Nigel Slater's Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie

8/04/2014 11:03:00 PM

Nigel Slater's Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie with a minty broadbean salad

I have really been loving Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day - it's his latest cooking program (it's finished screening now, but it was on Lifestyle Food in Australia and I'm sure will be repeated often), which focuses on his weekly shop, and the different recipes he comes up with throughout the week. I like his style, his enthusiasm, his no-nonsense, unpretentious presentation - in this program, it's all about the food. (Obviously things have changed a bit since his series Real Food (1998), which had excellent recipes, but was also hilariously erotic and full of double entendres. Yes Nigel, let's melt that chocolate "until it is smooth... and sexy", with a saxophone solo playing in the background. Hehehe.) On Dish of the Day, most of what he makes looks delicious, and even when he makes recipes that I wouldn't fancy eating myself, it's always an entertaining and enlightening show.

Compare this to say, Bill (Granger's) Kitchen: Notting Hill, another cooking show that was screening over the same period. I like Bill, I've visited his cafes, own many of his books and enjoy cooking from them, but the Notting Hill series seemed all about showing off his fabulous lifestyle, rather than him making good recipes or imparting any food knowledge, even more so than his previous Sydney-based series. (Just off the top of my head, this series sees him visit London Fashion Week, take a trip to Sweden, set up an impromptu food truck dinner party and generally traipse around Notting Hill).

Ok, so let's get to the topic of the post: Nigel Slater's chicken, bacon and leek pie. I saw him make it on the show, and could not get into the kitchen fast enough to make it myself!

He poached chicken thighs and legs (i.e. marylands) in milk, then pulled the meat off the bones. He sauteed pieces of streaky bacon in butter, then added sliced leeks, followed by the chicken. He added flour, mustard and some of the poaching milk to make a creamy white sauce, then wrapped this delicious mixture up in all-butter puff pastry and baked it until crispy and golden. Oh wow!

I made the pie that same week, guestimating amounts based on what Nigel said on the program (he doesn't use strict weights or measures), and it turned out really well. Hooray! Of course, after I made it and I was writing up my version of the recipe for this post, I googled it and found that the original recipe, with precise weights and measures, is already online - d'oh! I was pleased to see, however, that my version was pretty similar to the original recipe - clearly I had been paying attention to the program!

Making the pie is a little fiddly and time consuming, and I spent a pleasant weekend afternoon pottering about the kitchen making it. Perfect weekend activity for this cold weather, don't you think?

Here are the chicken pieces, about to be poached in milk.

Chicken marylands poaching in milk with onion, peppercorns and bay leaves

Another important ingredient: bacon.

Peter Bouchier dry-cured streaky bacon

I saw this Peter Bouchier bacon at the David Jones food hall in the city, and it looked so lovely that I just had to buy it, despite it costing over ten dollars a packet (approx. eight rashers). And you know what? It's frikking amazing! The flavour and smoky aroma is just beautiful, and you can really see that it's made from proper pork - it's a world away from the pale, watery bacon you can get at the supermarket. I'd much rather fork out for bacon like this, and just eat it (much!) less frequently. Seriously good stuff. It also made the kitchen smell so nice as it was frying - bonus!

Making the filling

Assembling the pie

I love how the assembled pie looks like a big petit beurre biscuit!

Puff pastry!

Puff pastry!

As you can see, this recipe makes a very flat, sliceable pie. The pastry-to-filling ratio is very high, which is my idea of heaven. In a totally decadent move, I used two sheets of Careme puff pastry, which are 375 grams each and have many, many buttery layers. Yum.


However, if you prefer less pastry (who are you even?) I've got two options for you. First option: use one sheet of Careme puff pastry, but cut it in half and roll both pieces out very thinly to cover the same amount of filling. The second option would be to use a different brand of puff pastry (all butter please, and certainly not reduced fat), which tend to be thinner. Pampas, for example, is about 170 grams per sheet and doesn't puff up nearly as much.

As per Nigel's suggestion, I served the pie with a minty broad bean salad. I defrosted a packet of frozen broad beans in boiling water from the kettle, and then skinned them. I made the dressing by whizzing up some fresh mint leaves with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, and tossed the lot with some baby spinach and rocket leaves. (If you weren't serving this salad with the pie, then some goats cheese would make a lovely addition).

Broad bean salad

Nigel Slater's chicken, bacon and leek pie with minty broad bean salad

Yum, yum, yum! This pie was such a stunner! So buttery, bacony and all around delicious! I found that leftovers re-heated amazingly well in the sandwich press at work.

Interestingly enough, Nigel suggests this recipe as an economical way of eking out expensive free range chicken bought from the butcher. However, once I added the expensive bacon and two sheets of fancy pants Careme puff pastry to my free range chicken pieces, the pie ended up being more expensive than a whole free range or even organic chicken. Oh well, I figure if you're going to eat something this calorie-dense and time consuming to make, you may as well go all out and fill it with wonderful ingredients you're really, really going to love. I think of this pie not as self-sacrificing budget cookery, but a really lovely, all-out, once-in-a-while treat. Definitely a dinner-party contender (although you're a better person than I if you're able to share it). Enjoy!

Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie
Adapted from Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day

2 chicken marylands
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bayleaf
1 small onion
1 clove
Milk (enough to cover the chicken pieces)
6 rashers smoked streaky bacon
30 grams butter
1 leek
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 x 375 grams packets of puff pastry (I used Careme)
1 egg, beaten
A little grated Parmesan cheese, for the top

Place the chicken pieces into a pot in which they fit snugly. Add the peppercorns and bayleaf. Stud the onion with the clove and add it to the pot. Pour over enough milk to cover the chicken. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Lift the chicken out to a separate plate to cool down. Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, flake the chicken meat and skin into pieces, discarding the bones.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.
Cut the bacon into postage-stamp sized pieces, and fry them in the butter until crisp. Finely slice the leeks, add them to the pan and cook until softened.
Add the chicken to the pan with the bacon and stir to combine.
Add the flour and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Add two ladlefuls of the cooked milk, stirring all the while so the sauce doesn't go lumpy. (No need to be precise about the amount, just keep adding enough milk to make a thick sauce that holds the meat together). Add the Dijon mustard. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before assembling the pie.
Roll out one sheet of pastry onto a large piece of baking paper. Top the pastry with the filling, leaving a 2 centimetre border. Brush the border with beaten egg, and top with the second piece of pastry. Crimp the edges to seal. Brush the top with more beaten egg, then score a pattern into the pastry with a sharp knife. Poke some steam holes in the top. Grate some Parmesan cheese over.
Use the baking paper to transfer the pie to the tray in the oven, and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through, and the filling is piping hot.
Serve with a green salad.
Serves 6-8

You Might Also Like


  1. Bacon *heart eyes emoji* LOVE!

    1. violet crumble4:16 PM

      Here's a suggestion (and I'm making this pie right now) .... Buy a whole f/r chicken instead of the maryland pieces and poach it not in milk but as if you are making stock (i used some white wine, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, black peppercorns) Then you not only have loads of lovely moist tender chicken for your pie but a delicious chicken stock as well for soups etc. You can use the stock to make the sauce as in the recipe, adding a little cream.

  2. I love Nigel Slater's recipes though I always find his tv programs a bit hard to stomach for some reason.

    This pie looks fab and it would definitely get the thumbs up in our household (pies have to have pastry on both top & bottom!).

    The bacon looks amazing too - DJs shut its food hall in Adelaide so my wallet might be safe!

  3. Oh my goodness, that's one amazing looking pie...! Having a light brunch earlier today, I'm now having mid-afternoon hunger pangs. And like you, I also enjoy having good quality bacon, shall take note of that DJ brand!

  4. Ok I really need to get the food channel as I have missed both these shows! The pie looks great and even the plate is very "Nigel".

  5. Wow that bacon does look amazing. And Careme pastry always rises wondrously! Such an incredible looking dinner.

  6. I'm such a Philistine, I've never heard of Careme pastry, and generally just get the Pampas and the normal supermarket bacon! This looks infinitely more indulgent than that.

  7. If there's bacon, I definitely love it! It looks very delicious! Perfect for dinner!

  8. We made this for supper tonight with a few minor changes. Added salt and a couple garlic cloves to the milk, added a diced garlic clove in with the leeks and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was sooo good! My husband ate half, he couldn’t get enough! It’s the first savoury pie that we’ve made but definitely won’t be the last! Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment and the tips. Love the idea of adding garlic to the poaching liquid.

      I hope there are many delicious savoury pies in your future!



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.