Using leftover roast chicken is ideal because meat roasted on the bone gives a lot of flavour. If you haven’t got leftover chicken, bone-in chicken breasts are an easy alternative.
Around Christmastime, add some chopped roasted chestnuts to the pie filling when you add the chicken for a festive make-ahead dinner.
Half a leftover roast chicken, or two bone-in chicken breasts (skin on or off)
100g smoked bacon, cut into lardons
2 large leeks, cleaned, the white and pale green parts finely chopped
250ml low-sodium chicken stock
1 tsp butter
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp flour
½ cup dry white wine
1 sheet of good quality, ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
If using a leftover roast chicken, strip as much meat from the carcass as you can, chop roughly and set aside. If using raw chicken breasts, rub lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 190C / 375F for 20 – 25 minutes, let cool, and cut into chunks. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tsp of olive oil over a medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the bacon fat, add the butter and a little extra olive oil if needed to end up with about a tablespoon of fat. Add the chopped leeks and thyme, a pinch of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Cook the leeks down for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring often, until soft, golden and sweet.
To the leeks, add the flour and stir until evenly mixed. Cook for a minute or two then add the wine and stir, scraping up any bits on the bottom. Add the stock and give everything a good stir. Keep an eye on it, stirring often, until thick and bubbly. Return the bacon and add the chopped chicken. Taste the filling and add more salt and pepper if needed. Leave to cool.
At this stage the filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen. Bring to room temperature before baking the pie.
When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 200C / 400F. Spoon the cooled filling into a baking dish and unroll the pastry on top, tucking in the sides. Brush all over with beaten egg and sprinkle very lightly with flaked salt. Cut 2 or 3 steam holes in the pastry. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing, and serve with steamed beans or greens.