Sydney-based food editor and baking whiz Anneka Manning shares her recipe for Chicken, Leek and Thyme Pies.
- 400g desiree potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
- 60g unsalted butter
- 2 leeks (pale part only), halved lengthways, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 4 prosciutto slices, chopped
- 1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
- 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
- 2 quantities Annekas simple flaky pastry (see Related Recipe)
- 10 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoon milk
- 1.5kg whole chicken
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, unpeeled, quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 whole peppercorns
- For the chicken, place all ingredients in a large saucepan or stockpot and add enough cold water to cover the chicken by about 2cm. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and gently poach for 40 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove the chicken from stock, transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge to cool.
- Strain the stock, discarding the solids. (The stock can be reserved and kept frozen for up to 3 months). Return 1.5L (6 cups) stock to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the potato and boil for 8 minutes or until just tender. Remove the potato from the stock with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue boiling the stock for a further 15 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups (500ml). Set aside.
- Meanwhile, shred the chicken meat, discarding the skin and bones. Cover and chill until needed.
- Melt 20g butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leek, celery and prosciutto, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just soft. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Melt the remaining 40g butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and gradually add the reduced stock and milk, stirring constantly, until smooth and combined. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and simmering. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the shredded chicken, potato and leek mixture, then season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Chill for 1 hour or until cooled.
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease six 3/4 cup (185ml) ovenproof dishes or ramekins.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until 4mm thick. Using the top of one of the dishes as a guide, cut out 6 rounds of pastry. Divide the chicken mixture among the dishes and top each pie with some thyme leaves. Brush the edge of the dish with a little of the egg wash, then place a piece of pastry over each pie. Press down the edges with a fork to seal. Cut a small cross or two slits in the top of each pie, then brush pastry with a little egg wash to glaze.
- Place the pies on a baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp.
- Serve pies straight from the oven.