This one is inspired by the Chicken, Leek and Tarragon pie in Angela Boggiano’s excellent book, Pie. It’s densely packed with mostly meat. If you’re short on chicken, it would be just as good if you subbed potatoes for some of the meat. Of course I take many liberties… I also explain divide the work over several days so it’s no big chore, because who has time for a meal that takes all afternoon?
Use your favorite crust for a double crust pie.
I prefer butter/lard or all lard for a savory pie.
2 1/2 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TBS dried oregano
One stick cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Scant 1/2 cup (3.5 – 4 ounces) leaf lard cut into small pieces
1 cup ice water
4 TBS cider vinegar
One 3 lb chicken (or use leftover chopped chicken or turkey and skip the first step)*
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tbs olive oil
knob of butter
2 leeks, finely sliced (leeks are especially nice, but if you haven’t got them, use mild onion or a combo of onion, carrot, parsley and celery instead – it’ll still be delicious)
2/3 cup white wine (I rarely have wine so sub chicken stock with a TBS of vinegar or lemon juice)
2 TBS all purpose flour
2/3 cup light cream (you can use half-and-half or heavy cream too)
grated zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
salt and ground black pepper
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
cream to taste – 2 – 4 TBS
salt and pepper to taste
If starting with fresh chicken, place the chicken in a large pan with the carrot, celery, and 1 of the onions. Season with a little salt and pepper and cover with water; Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. Return the stock to the heat and simmer gently for a further 30 minutes until it is reduced by half.
Remove the meat from the cooled chicken carcass and chop or shred into small pieces.
Make crust: measure the flour, salt and oregano into a large bowl. Whisk well. Cut the diced butter into the flour mixture, then the lard. Mix and cut the fat into the flour until mostly pea sized pieces remain. Combine water, vinegar and ice in a large cup. Sprinkle 2 TBS of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, mixing with your fingers until the dough comes together in a ball. Add water carefully as needed, a little at a time until dough just pinches together into a ball. The amount of water needed will vary with each dough, so take it slow. Cut dough ball in two, flatten into roughly shaped disks and wrap separately in waxed paper or plastic wrap. If you are using a deep dish Springform pan, make the disk for the bottom larger – about 2/3. Refrigerate your dough at least 1 hour, or keep refrigerated up to three days. May also be frozen.
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet, add the leeks and the remaining onion (or onion mixture) and gently cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the wine (or chicken stock mixture) and simmer rapidly for 3 – 4 minutes until reduced by half. Stir in the flour and combine well for 1 minute. Pour in the cream, 2/3 cup of the reduced stock and the lemon zest if using. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Combine the cooled chicken with the leek/cream mixture and stir together. Set aside to cool or refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place racks in the center and a baking sheet in the oven to heat.
On a floured surface, roll out the bottom (larger) crust. Line your pie pan with dough – don’t worry if the dough breaks, just patch it making sure any holes are sealed to keep the juices inside. Fill with poultry mixture. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid. Crimp the edges and cut a few steam holes. If you like a shiny crust, you can brush the crust with beaten egg to glaze.
Place pie on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the crust is golden and crisp.
Not necessary, but nice with gravy. While the pie bakes, in a large saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth and the smell of butter overtakes the smell of raw flour. Take care to not brown the flour. Gently add two cups of chicken stock, bring to a simmer and continue simmering until the gravy thickens. Stir in cream and season to taste. I keep mine mild so the oregano in the crust can shine.
*Note: If you start with pre-cooked chicken or turkey, you will also need an additional cup and a half of stock reduced to 2/3 cup.