Chicken and Leek Pot Pie

This is what I call comfort food - the kind of thing to make on a cold, grey winter's day. You can vary the vegetables if you like (I quite like it with mushrooms replacing half the leeks).


Serves 2

This recipe is taken from The Delia Collection: Chicken

Chicken and Leek Pot Pie
 2 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
 2 medium leeks
 10 fl oz (275 ml) dry cider
 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices
 1 bay leaf
 1 small sprig of fresh thyme
 8 oz (225 g) block of fresh or frozen and defrosted puff pastry
 a little flour for dusting
 1 small egg, lightly beaten
 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan, for sprinkling
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the sauce
 10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
 3/4 oz (20 g) plain flour
 3/4 oz (20 g) butter
 a pinch of cayenne pepper
 1 oz (25 g) mature Cheddar, grated
 1/2 oz (10 g) Parmesan, finely grated
 a little freshly grated nutmeg
 salt and freshly milled black pepper

You will also need a small, round casserole or heatproof dish, 7 x 21/2 inches (18 x 6 cm), with a capacity of 11/2 pints (850 ml).



First, pour the cider into a medium saucepan, along with the carrots, bay leaf, sprig of thyme and some salt and freshly milled black pepper.

Bring to simmering point, then cover with a lid and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Now take the tough green ends off the leeks, then make a vertical split halfway down the centre of each leek, and run them under cold water to rid them of any hidden grit. Then slice them in half lengthways and chop into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices. Add the chicken and leeks to the pan and simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes.

For the sauce, all you do is place the milk, flour, butter and cayenne pepper into a medium saucepan and place it over a gentle heat.

Then, using a balloon whisk, begin to whisk while bringing it to a gentle simmer. Whisk continually until you have a smooth, glossy sauce, and simmer very gently for 5 minutes.

Then add the cheeses and whisk again, allowing them to melt. Then season with salt, freshly milled black pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg.

Next, drain the chicken and vegetables, reserving the liquid, but not the bay leaf and thyme. Now pour the liquid back into the pan, bring it to the boil and reduce to about 2 tablespoons.

Meanwhile, skin the chicken and cut it into bite-sized strips.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F (200C).

Now stir the cheese sauce into the cider, bring to a simmer, and stir the chicken, carrots and leeks into the sauce, before transferring the whole lot to the dish.

Next, to make a lid, roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut out a 9 inch (23 cm) round, then roll out the trimmings and cut a 1/2 inch (1 cm) strip.

Now dampen the edge of the dish with water and press the strip of pastry around the rim. Dampen the strip and carefully lift the pastry lid over the top.

Press it firmly over the edge to get a good seal all round, then trim, using a knife.

Finally, gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to cut into leaf shapes. Brush the surface of the pie with beaten egg, and arrange the leaves on top.

Now, brush the leaves with beaten egg, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

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