A creamy, hearty farmhouse supper. This pie can be made in advance and frozen, if required.
1 large chicken (approx 1.7kg/3.5lb)
2 carrots, chopped
3 onions, sliced into wedges
1 bouquet garni (1 celery stick, 2 bay leaves, handful of lemon thyme, parsley tied together with string)
A few leaves of lemon thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, chopped thickly
300g/10.5oz smoked bacon lardoons
150g/5oz unsalted butter
150g/5oz plain flour
100ml/0.25pt crème fraiche
2tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 large egg, beaten
2 x 375g/13oz sheets of ready to roll puff pastry, or make your own if you are able
2 hours including chilling time
Put the whole chicken in a large, heavy saucepan over a high heat. Add the carrot, 1 of the onions and the bouquet garni. Add enough cold water to cover, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Remove the lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the heat and set aside. Place the pan back on the high heat and boil for 30 minutes to make a stock.
Meanwhile, take the meat off the chicken carcass and chop roughly into bite-size portions. Add the bones to the stock to improve the flavour even more.
In another large pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the remaining onions and leeks, season to taste and fry for 5 minutes or so. Add the bacon lardoons (fat of the bacon) and continue to cook until the vegetables are golden in colour. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Strain the chicken stock into a jug, discarding the bones etc left in the sieve. Measure out 1.5l/2.5pt and set aside. The remainder can be frozen.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Melt the butter in the pan you cooked the bacon in, and the flour and stir to form a smooth paste. Gradually add the chicken stock, stirring to ensure the mixture remains smooth in consistency. Bubble over a medium heat for a few minutes to cook out the flour, adding a little extra stock if it turns into too thick a sauce.
Add the crème fraiche and the mustard and reserved thyme leaves. Add the chicken, bacon and vegetables. Mix thoroughly.
Divide between 2 x 2l/3.5pt pie dishes and leave to cool thoroughly.
Brush the edges of both pie dishes with the beaten egg, add the puff pastry to the top, firmly pressing down the edges to seal them with the back of a fork. Remove any excess pastry with a sharp knife. If you have any remaining pastry this can be rolled on a floured surface into leaves or decorative shapes to adorn the tops of the pies. Make a small slit in the top of each pie to allow steam to escape. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7. Brush the pie you will be cooking with beaten egg. The second pie can be wrapped in cling film at this stage and frozen for another time, remembering to add 10 minutes or so to the cooking time once the pie has been defrosted and brushed with beaten egg.
Cook the pie in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
Serve with new or mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
2 x 4 person pies