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Recipe: Chicken, white wine, tarragon and lentil pie

PUBLISHED: 13:22 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:19 07 March 2018

Slow-braised chicken pie by Charlotte Smith Jarvis.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Slow-braised chicken pie by Charlotte Smith Jarvis. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Make this hearty pie for Mother’s Day.

British Pie Week draws to a close on March 10, and what better to round it off than with a cracking chicken pie laden with legumes and herbs?

It’s a far cry from the very first pie I ever made. I remember it clearly, and it actually (despite its simplicity) became a bit of a family favourite.

My turkey pie consisted of homemade shortcrust pastry (not bad going for a 10-year-old) and was jam-packed with turkey thigh mince, grated onions, salt and loads of crushed black pepper. That was it. It became a faithful part of my pre-teen cooking repertoire, which also included chocolate fudge cake and ‘spice cake’ made with a heavy dose of dark sugar and lots of mixed spice – only dad and I dared eat that one.

I didn’t make pie for a long time after I moved out of home, aged 17 and the clubbing years ensued. And it wasn’t until I was just about to get married that I got back into pastry making, rekindling my love with Nigel Slater’s wonderful new potato and sausage pie – which I still have a fondness for.

Anyway, back to this week’s pie. Shortcrust is by far the easiest pastry you can make so it’s what I tend to use in my kitchen. For the filling chicken is slow-cooked down to a velvety consistency and is matched with tarragon, which is a classic pairing for poulet, bringing it alive with tantalising notes of aniseed. Green lentils add bite.

I like to serve this with a big pile of steamed vegetables and a glass of chilled white. The ideal thing to cook for mum on Mother’s Day.

Slow-braised chicken, tarragon and lentil pie

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients

For the filling:

4 chicken legs with thighs attached (skin on)

200ml chicken stock

200ml white wine

1tsp dried or 1.5tbsp fresh chopped tarragon

100ml double cream

1 tin green lentils, drained

2tsps cornflour mixed with 3tsps water

Seasoning

75g dried breadcrumbs

Pastry:

150g cold, unsalted butter, cubed

300g plain flour

Pinch salt

Cold water

1 egg beaten to brush

Method

Place the chicken, stock, wine and tarragon in a slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or overnight on low. Cool, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat. Strain the juices into a bowl and skim off any fat.

Mix the water and cornflour to a paste and mix into the shredded chicken.

Place the chicken, chicken juices and cream in a pan and cook on a medium heat until thickened and reduced so there is little or no liquid remaining. Season, stir in the lentils, and place in a bowl to cool completely.

For the pastry rub the flour, salt and butter together in a bowl to make breadcrumbs. Add cold water, drop by drop and bring together into a dough.

Wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Set the oven to 190C.

Flour a surface and roll out a third of the dough to about 3mm thick and large enough to line a 20cm round, deep pie dish with overhang.

Line your dish with the pastry, cut away the excess and the line with greaseproof and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and baking beans, brush the base with beaten egg and fill with breadcrumbs (these will soak up any excess juice and prevent a soggy bottom).

Now get creative. Roll out the rest of the pastry to a circle to fit the top of the pie and seal. Decorate as you like with the leftover pastry. Make a hole in the centre to allow steam to escape, brush with beaten egg and bake for 45 minutes to one hour until firm and golden.

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