Styling with dark textures helps to give certain shots a rustic, earthy feel. Our Photographer, Andy, carefully lit this to give focus to each of the layers within the pie, and show off the buttery, crumbly pastry.
COOK AND PREP TIME: 3 HRS
For the filling
800g skinless and boneless chicken breast, diced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
½ white onion, finely chopped
3 tsp Dijon mustard
200g cooked ham hock
2 bunches fresh asparagus, as they are
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry
550g strong white bread flour
1 tsp sea salt flakes
40g unsalted butter, softened and diced
170g lard, melted
200ml boiling water
1 egg, beaten
For the jelly
7g leaf gelatine
100ml chicken stock
- Mix together the chicken, onion, thyme, mustard and season. Cover with some cling film and pop in the fridge. You can leave it overnight to let the flavours develop, but if you need to get cracking just leave to chill for 5–10 minutes.
- Dice the ham hock and mix into the chilled chicken filling. Cover over again and return to the fridge until you need it. Whilst the meat is chilling, trim the asparagus stalks and simmer in salted water for up to 3 minutes. Once they’re done, plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water, so they stop cooking and keep their bold colour.
- To make the pastry, mix the flour with the salt and rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs, then make a well in the centre of the mixture. Heat the lard with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir the hot liquid into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon and fold together to form a smooth dough.
- Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until it’s smooth and almost shiny. Use the dough whilst it’s still warm to stop it cracking.
- Line the base of a rectangular raised pie tin with some baking parchment and cover the base and sides with the pastry dough. Next, roll out the lid with a little overspill to form a border. Keep the trimmings for decoration, if you’re feeling arty.
- Put half the meat filling onto the pastry base and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. Line the asparagus on top in 2 neat layers and spoon the rest of the meat mixture over the top, pressing down again.
- Seal your pie with its pastry lid and make a hole in the top to allow the steam to escape. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Bake in the oven, on the middle shelf. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for a further hour. If the pastry begins to darken, cover with some tin foil.
- To ensure an even bake, take the pie out of the oven, carefully remove from the tin and place on a baking tray. Brush the lid and sides evenly with beaten egg and return to the oven at 180°C. If the pie begins to brown, cover again with foil. When the meat inside has reached 84°C, remove from the oven.
- Whilst it cools, prepare the chicken jelly. Soak the leaf of gelatine in cold water and squeeze out the excess water. Heat the chicken stock and place the gelatine in to dissolve. Once you can’t see the gelatine, sieve the liquid.
- Pop a funnel in the hole on top of the pie and pour in as much jelly as will fit. Leave to settle for 5 minutes and then pour in some more jelly, keep this up until the pie can’t hold anymore. Once the edges feel cool, pop the pie in the fridge and resist temptation ’til the next day.