Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Home Raised Chicken and Bacon Pie

I shall call these big beauties 'home raised' as opposed to 'hand raised' pies, for fear of offending the Pie Police (as I am on somewhat thin ground with them as it is). Whatever their title though, they really are as marvellous as they are monstrous, gigantic in size, chock-full of succulent meat and delicately perfumed with just a hint of thyme. The pastry is also one of my favourites, both simple to make and equally as effortless to mould. I have filled my pies with chicken thighs and unsmoked bacon, but I encourage you to experiment. Dried fruit, spices and other herbs would all be welcome additions.

Prep time: 30 Mins
Baking time: 60 Mins
100g Unsalted  Butter or Lard
100ml Water
290g Plain Flour
Pinch salt

300g skinned/boned chicken thighs
250g  back bacon
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper
1 Beaten egg (Beaten)

250ml Pork or Chicken stock (The best you can afford)
2 Leaves of Gelatine

For the pastry, place the butter in a small saucepan with the water and bring gently to the boil. Whilst that's doing its thing sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. When the butter/water is boiling remove from the heat and pour over the flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon, then get your hands in (it shouldn't be too hot) and bring together to a dough. Transfer to a clean dry surface and gently knead for a minute or two until the dough is smooth, then place back in a bowl and set to one side for 20minutes.

Whilst the dough is resting you can prepare the filling and moulds. Roughly chop the chicken and the bacon and season each with a little pepper (I don't use salt as the bacon and stock are salty enough). Take two 9cm ramekins and line with cling film, ensuring the cling film overlaps the edge by several centimetres. Lightly grease with a little oil.

Once the pastry has rested it's time to bring it all together. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and lightly grease a large flat baking tray. Divide the pastry into three, reserving a third for the lids, then on a lightly greased surface roll out the rest into two rounds, each slightly larger than the base of your ramekins. For each round press into the base of your prepared ramekin and using your fingers, coax the pastry up the sides, until thin and sitting slightly over the top edge. The pastry should be quite pliable and you should be able to work it into shape relatively easily. Spoon some of the chicken into each case, followed by a sprinkling of thyme, followed by a layer of bacon. Repeat until the case is completely filled, as the meat will shrink slightly during cooking.

Grasp the overhanging cling film with your fingers and ease each filled pie from its ramekin. Unwrap the cling film and place on the greased baking tray. Divide the remaining dough in half and roll out two lids. Place them carefully on top of your pies and press the edges together to form a seal. You don't want any gaps or holes in the pastry. Make a small incision in the top of each pie, then open up to allow steam to escape. Brush all over with beaten egg and bake in the centre of the oven for around 60 minutes, until golden brown.

Once the pies are cooked you just need to fill them up with jelly. By far the best way to do this is using a little syringe. There is probably a specialist gadget, but I just use a little oral syringe that I picked up from the chemist. For the jelly itself cover the sheets of gelatine with cold water and leave to soften for 5 minutes. Heat the stock until hot, but not boiling, then give the gelatine a squeeze and stir through until dissolved. Place the cooked pies on a wire rack, then carefully syringe the hot stock into each pie through the hole in the top, a little at a time until full. Leave to cool completely, then chill in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours.

There is nothing quite like the excitement and nervous anticipation that accompanies home baking your own pies. They really are an adventure in the baking!

No comments:

Post a Comment