Midnight Pie (a.k.a. Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pie)

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You may be wondering why I have called this recipe “midnight pie”. Well, friends, that’s because this pie takes a while to make, I’m not gonna lie – when I finally get around to serving this baby, it’s probably past everyone’s bed time. We’re not in Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals territory here, folks.

I make the pie when I can devote enough time to it, because it is quite a process – so it tends to be made on a Friday night with an accompanying glass of wine. Or three.

There are lots of short cuts you can take – buy the herbs in those squeezable tubes, buy pre-grated cheese, chuck everything in the food processor and hope for the best etc. I just find the process cathartic when I cook, so I tend to make it more dramatic than it needs to be.

You don’t have to cook the components in any particular order, other than blind-baking the pastry at the beginning and the pastry top at the end. The filling can be prepared any which way; so long as all the components are cooked through, you’re good to go.

Also, the quantities aren’t an exact science. If you like cheese, use as much cheese as I do (which is probably more than the average cheese consumer) or omit the bacon if you don’t like bacon. But other than the chicken and the pastry quantities, do what you want, guys.

That said, I strongly don’t recommend you use any MORE of anything, because no one is as greedy as I am and I pack this pie full to the brim with heart attack-inducing delicious stuff. If you can fit more butter/cheese/bacon into this recipe, then my hat goes off to you, sir.

I serve this motherload of pie with mash, peas and gravy that I’ve made with equal parts of roast meat gravy and chicken gravy powder (amount to taste in terms of seasoning/thickness), combined with the juice from the chicken poaching liquid and some of the bacon fat (no holds barred, people – if you’re looking for a light and modest meal, then this is not the recipe for you).

Anyway, enjoy! This serves about 8. It’s a damn huge pie. It’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge and tastes even better the next day, so you could just be like me and make it for two and eat it over the course of the weekend. Delish.

INGREDIENTS

PIE

– 1 tbs olive oil

– 2 tbs butter


- 6 (about 850g) chicken breast fillets, cut into 4cm pieces


- 600g bacon rashers, rind removed, coarsely chopped


- 2 leeks, ends trimmed, cut into approximately 1cm-thick slices


- 5 garlic cloves, crushed


- 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour


- The leaves of 8 large sprigs fresh thyme (at least – I also supplement this with a few squeezes from a tube of pre-cut thyme. I like it to taste REALLY thymey)

– 1 cup chopped fresh continental parsley (about half a bunch)


- 6 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed


- 1 egg, lightly whisked

– Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste (I wouldn’t be adding any more salt to this though, just pepper)

– 3 cups poaching liquid (see below)

– Around 2 cups full cream milk

– 400g tasty cheese, grated

POACHING LIQUID

– 1 cup white wine

– 2 cloves garlic, peeled

– Loads of freshly cracked pepper

– 
 500ml (2 cups) chicken stock (I just use two stock cubes or two tbsp powdered stock dissolved in boiling water)

– Half a cup time leaves/ a couple of squeezes pre-cut thyme in a tube

-Half a bunch of parsley

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Grease a round, deep pie dish (if you don’t have a pie dish – never fear! You can use just about anything in place of a pie dish – as long as it’s oven-proof and large enough to fit the filling in, and you adjust the quantity of pastry sheets you need (I tend to have extra filling left over which I chuck in a soup bowl and cover with pastry, then bake it in the oven when I’m baking the larger pie). Cover the base and sides with pastry so that the inside of the dish is completely concealed. Blind bake until lightly golden (NB: You can get special heatproof beads to fill the dish with as you’re blind-baking to keep the base from rising, but I don’t think this is necessary).

2. In a large, deep fry pan, saucepan or even a wok, place all ingredients of the poaching liquid and give a good stir. Place chicken fillets in and poach until cooked through – you can check by cutting into the chicken with a knife and fork. Cut the fillets into chunks and place in a food processor; pulse on a low setting until the chicken is shredded. Don’t forget to pulse, stop and check – you don’t want the chicken to turn to mush! If you don’t have a food processor, just pull apart using tongs and a fork – this’ll take longer, but what you gonna do? Reserve poaching liquid for the gravy and to add to the pie filling mixture.

3. Add the bacon to frying pan and cook until the bacon pieces are crisp.Remove bacon from pan andreserve the residual bacon fat for the gravy.

4. Add butter to a large saucepan and add the leek and garlic, stirring for 5 minutes or until the leek and garlic soften. Add flour and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in a cup of the poaching liquid and a cup of the milk until well combined. Add chicken, thyme and parsley to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes or until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Taste and season with pepper. Add cheese and cook for a further one or two minutes, or until cheese has melted in. If necessary, you can add more milk or poaching liquid if the mixture is too thick and dry.

5. Spoon the chicken mixture into the blind-baked pastry-covered pie dish until full. Cover the top of the pie with more of the frozen pastry (I made mine a little slap-dash in these photos, but it still tastes delish). Press the edges to seal the pie. Brush the top with the beaten egg.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden. Set aside to cool slightly. Boild potatoes until soft and mash with butter and salt; blanch some peas by covering some frozen peas with bloiling water and draining. Serve pie with mash, peas and gravy.

You’re done! Probably took at least an hour and a half – sometime takes me three hours because I stuff around – so no doubt you’re exhausted. Well, have another glass of wine and eat another piece of pie – you deserve it!

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