This week is British Pie Week and, on Sunday, to mark the occasion, I took myself off to a pie-making class. Marika Gauci’s Sunday Pie Club is the only pie-making class in London and I was there to review it on behalf of The Good Web Guide (you can read the review here).
It was four hours long, very relaxed and fun, and yielded three perfectly plump, pastry-all-the-way-round, creamy, and, yep, truly delicious chicken and leek pies. I took them home to a pie-loving Heid, who helped me to scoff all three and said that all his Sundays had come at once….
Marika’s classic chicken, leek & bacon pie
Makes 6‐8 little pies or two 7.5” round pies
Recipe by Marika Gauci
For the white Sauce:
2 tsp mustard
1/2 chicken stock cube, crumbled
For the filling:
3 tbsp Vegetable oil
600g Chicken, medium diced
2 garlic cloves sliced
100g lardoons or smoked streaky bacon, diced
1 tsp tarragon or sage
Black pepper and salt
For the short crust pastry:
500g Plain flour
125ml of very cold water
40g Parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
What to do with them
1. First make the Sauce. Add the butter into a saucepan and melt, then add the flour, mix well with a whisk for a few minutes. Then add all the milk at
once, whisking well. Take the saucepan from heat if it starts to thicken. Now add the mustard and crumble in the stock cube. Season with salt and pepper. Leave to cool.
2. Add a little olive oil to the casserole dish and fry the diced chicken to brown, don’t add salt at this stage as it will draw out the moisture from the chicken, just a sprinkling of pepper. Once a little brown or fried for 5 minutes, ladle out the chicken and set aside to rest so the juices and flavour escape.
3. Add a little butter and fry the sliced leeks and onions until shinny, then add the bacon and mushrooms and fry for a few minutes, until they start to caramelise. Finally, add the sliced garlic and tarragon/sage. Now add the chicken and juices back into the mix.
4. Cook on a medium heat for a further 5 minutes.
5. Take from heat; add the sauce to the chicken and leek mixture and leave to cool completely. If you’re in a hurry, fill the sink with cold water to draw out the heat fast. (If your filling is too hot for your cold pastry you will have an uncooked soggy bottom to your pie, so don’t skip this step)
6. Meanwhile make the short crust pastry. Place flour, salt and diced cold butter into a mixing bowl. With your fingertips, lightly rub the together the butter and flour until it resembles ground almonds or breadcrumbs. Try and be as light and airy as possible and lift the flour up high with hands to allow lots of air into the mixture. Think cold. When that’s done add the parmesan and mix.
7. Make a well in the mixture and gradually add water or all at once, one hand on the bowl other quickly mixing until the mixture comes together in a loose crumbly dough. Tip out dough onto floured surface and squeeze together, turning around a few times so the crumbs can marry up. Flatten the
dough, cover with clingfilm and chill in fridge for about 30 minutes.
8. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 5
9. Remove the pastry from the fridge, flour the surface, and roll the pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin and the size of your pie dish(es)
10. Fill with cold mixture. The top can be a little thinner than the base if you like. Brush whisked egg around the pie rim to act as a glue. Fix the pie lid then crimp, decorate as you wish. Don’t forget to make some holes and egg wash the top.
11. Place on a pre-heated baking tray and bake in the pre‐heated oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
Marika’s Sunday Pie Club takes place twice a month at the Central Street Cookery School in Clerkenwell and costs £60. To book a place, visit marikas-kitchen.com