Chef Stephen McAllister’s famous homemade chicken pie

Kitchen Cabinet: Chef Stephen McAllister came up with this recipe at home. Now it’s on the menu in his restaurant

Comfort food: Stephen McAllister’s cock-a-leekie pie

 Comfort food: Stephen McAllister’s cock-a-leekie pie

When it comes to comfort food, nothing gives a hug quite like a pie does. We’ve had a cock-a-leekie soup on our menu in The Pig’s Ear on and off now for the past 12 years and I always thought it would make a fantastic pie one day.

I made this one St Stephen’s Day [Boxing Day] with the leftover turkey we had. It went down a treat with my two girls, so when we opened Spitalfields, it was a no brainer to put the pie on the menu, and it looks like it will be there to stay.

Stephen McAllister is a chef and owner of Spitalfields and The Pig’s Ear in Dublin

Spitalfields cock-a-leekie pie

Serves two to four

1 kg chicken (I use a free-to-roam bird)
1 l chicken stock or water
2 cloves of garlic
1 small bunch of thyme
2 sprigs of tarragon, leaves picked
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and cut into 2cm rounds (keep the green parts for poaching the chicken)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
50g butter
50g plain flour
200g hen of the woods mushrooms (button mushrooms will do)
6 prunes, cut in half
50ml Madeira (optional, or use white wine)
Shop bought all-butter puff pastry
1 egg, beaten (egg wash)

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Place the chicken in a large pot with the stock or water, thyme, garlic and green parts of the leek.

2 Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and poach for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3 Once cooked and the meat is just about to fall off the bone, transfer the chicken to a dish and let it cool. Sieve the poaching liquid the chicken has cooked in and keep it to one side. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick the meat off the bones. Discard the skin.

4 Place the carcass on to a tray and roast in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until golden, then put back into the stock and bring back to the boil. Turn off the heat and let the stock cool.

5 Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, then add the flour and stir continuously for one to two minutes, until you have a roux. Then add the Madeira or wine, if using, and gradually incorporate the flavoured chicken stock one ladle at a time, stirring all the while. Cook and stir for 10-15 minutes until you have a thickened and smooth sauce. This should have the consistency of gravy. Check for seasoning.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and leeks and gently fry for five minutes, until they are cooked and nicely caramelised. Place the torn up chicken, mushrooms, leeks, prunes and tarragon in a large bowl and mix. Check for seasoning. Put the mix into a pie dish. Pour over enough sauce to generously cover the filling.

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface. Brush the rim of the pie dish with a little egg wash and lay the pastry over the top of the pie. Trim the edges and crimp the pie with a fork or pinch with your fingers. Make a small hole in the centre of the pastry to let the steam escape. Brush the pastry with the remaining egg wash and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

TIP The pie can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Just make sure to take it out of the fridge for 10-15 minutes before baking. I like to serve this with a nice green salad with sliced onions.

Kitchen Cabinet is a series of recipes from chefs who are members of Euro-Toques Ireland who have come together during the coronavirus outbreak to share some of the easy, tasty things that they like to cook and eat at home #ChefsAtHome

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