The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.55
WINTER2017

A deconstructed pie of chicken & leek

This approximation of a pie derives from a recipe in Be-Ro Flour Home Recipes , the beloved British booklet that first appeared during 1923 and has remained in continuous print ever since. Like just about everything in Home Recipes it is easy to make, but like everything else errs a tad toward austerity, so we have boosted its flavor with bacon, an herb and some spice. Four servings.

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The pastry.

-2 oz unsalted butter
-about 5 oz water
-4 oz flour
-heaped teaspoon dry mustard
-3 oz shredded Cheddar or other sharp cheese
-3 beaten eggs


  1. Bring the butter and water to a boil, turn off the heat and stir the flour into the pot.
  2. Return the heat, to low, and stir the dough until it balls up in the center of the pot.
  3. Put the dough into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature ( see the Notes).
  4. Gradually beat the mustard, cheese and eggs into the dough ( see the Notes).

Preheat the oven to 400°.

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The filling.


-unsalted butter for greasing a shallow oven dish
-3 chopped slices of bacon
-1 Tablespoon neutral oil
-1 lb boneless chicken thighs cut into ¾ inch cubes
-2 roughly chopped leeks
-3 Tablespoons flour
-¼ teaspoon cayenne
-1 heaped teaspoon dried thyme
-½ cup chicken stock
-1 cup milk
-1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
-salt and pepper
-about ½ cup shredded Cheddar or other sharp cheese.


  1. Grease the shallow oven dish and plop uniform blobs of pastry around its perimeter.
  2. Bake the pastry for about 30 minutes or until it begins to set.
  3. Meanwhile assemble the filling. Cook the bacon in a big heavy skillet until crisp and remove it.
  4. Turn the heat to high, add the oil to the skillet and sear the chicken, then remove it.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir the leeks into the fat in the skillet and cook them until they soften, but do not let them brown.
  6. Stir the flour, cayenne and thyme, then add the stock and milk.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, add the Worcestershire, bacon and chicken, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, usually in about 10 minutes.
  8. Check the filling for seasoning, then dump it into the center of the oven dish; top it with the cheese.
  9. Bake the ‘pie’ until the cheese bubbles and browns, usually in about 10 minutes.

 

Notes:

- Be-Ro calls this a gougère; it is not. They are little balls of the pastry baked separately as snacks.

- It is essential to let the pastry cool before adding the eggs or they will scramble instead of marrying with the rest of the dough.

- The easiest way to beat the eggs into the dough; use a KitchenAid countertop mixer with its dough hook. If you lack one, pulse the dough in a food processor but be careful not to overdo it. If you lack either machine, use an old fashioned electric beater. Lacking that use an unpowered crank operated beater; lacking that attend the Old School and boost your biceps by using a wooden spoon. If you lack a wooden spoon, buy one or give up on cooking.

- A serving spoon or wooden spoon about twice the size of a Tablespoon is a good bet for plopping the blobs.