With gastro pubs so trendy right now, the pie is enjoying a well-deserved revival. This hits all the right buttons - chunky pieces of chicken and ham with creamy cheese and leeks.


  • 275 ml/ 10 fl oz dry cider

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 small sprig of fresh thyme

  • Salt and pepper, to season

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into pieces

  • 110g/ 4oz chunky British ham

  • 2 medium leeks, cleaned, cut lengthways and chopped into slices

  • Shop-bought fresh white/cheese sauce

  • 225g/ 8oz block of fresh or frozen and defrosted puff pastry

  • A little flour for dusting

  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan, for sprinkling

  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper


  • 1.

    Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Pour the cider in a saucepan and add the carrots, bay leaf, sprig of thyme and season well. Bring to simmering point, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, ham and leeks to the pan and simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the cheese sauce gently in a saucepan.

  • 2.

    Next, drain the chicken, ham and vegetables, reserving the liquid, but not the bay leaf and thyme. Now pour the liquid back into the pan, bring it to the boil and reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Meanwhile, skin the chicken and cut it into bite-sized strips. Now stir the cheese sauce into the reserved liquid, bring to a simmer, and stir the chicken, ham, carrots and leeks into the sauce. Allow to cool before transferring to the dish.

  • 3.

    To make a lid, roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut out a 9 inch (23 cm) round, then roll out the trimmings and cut a ½ inch (1 cm) strip. Now dampen the edge of the dish with water and press the strip of pastry around the rim. Dampen the strip and carefully lift the pastry lid over the top. Press it firmly over the edge to get a good seal all round, then trim, using a knife. Finally, if you wish, gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to cut into leaf shapes. Brush the surface of the pie with beaten egg, and arrange the leaves on top. Now, brush the leaves with beaten egg, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

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