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The root of pie

PUBLISHED: 06:06 07 April 2014

Creamy chicken pie.

Creamy chicken pie.

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

This is a deconstructed pie, for which you prepare all the elements separately and then assemble them on the plate as you serve.

It is a wonderfully creamy pie, full of some of the best ingredients that work so well with chicken, especially bacon, mushrooms and tarragon.

You can make this recipe ahead, chill and keep in the fridge. Keep the pre-cooked pastry lids somewhere cool but not cold. Then blast the lids in a hot oven for a couple of minutes and gently heat through the

creamy chicken.

Serves four to six

900 g boneless, skinless chicken breasts

500ml of good chicken stock

100g butter

2 medium onions, finely chopped

250g finely diced smoked streaky bacon

250g button mushrooms, (choose smallest possible)

150 ml Nolly Prat or dry sherry

300ml double cream

3 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon, plus an extra tsp for serving

2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley

250g puff pastry

A beaten egg

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Cut the chicken breasts into approx 2cm cubes, trimming any gristle. Pour the stock into a saucepan, bring to the boil and cook the cubed chicken in the stock for a good five minutes.Then remove the pan from the

heat and stand to cool (with the chicken still in the stock).

2 Heat half the butter in a large, deep frying or sauté pan and add the chopped onion and bacon pieces. Cook over a gentle heat until the onion is softened and the bacon crispy, then remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

3 Add the rest of the butter to the pan and cook the mushrooms, for approx five minutes. Pour in the Nolly or sherry, bring the pan to the boil and reduce the alcohol by a half.

4 Strain the chicken and stand it to one side. Pour the stock into the pan with the bacon and onion and continue boiling until it has reduced by a half again.

5 Once the sauce has reduced, add the chicken pieces, herbs, salt and freshly ground pepper and the cream. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is heated all the way through; then taste and adjust the seasoning.

The pastry lids

Roll the puff pastry out and cut into individual discs (I tend to use a saucer for this) and lay them on a large baking sheet. Run a sharp knife over each disc making slight segment indentations, and softly crimp

the edges. Brush with beaten egg and cook for approximately 12 minutes in a preheated oven 200C/gas mark six/Aga on the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven, until risen and golden brown.

To serve

Spoon a portion of creamy chicken on to each plate and top with a pastry disc garnish with a small amount of fresh tarragon. Serve with sauté potatoes and green vegetables.

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