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Weekend Recipe: Diana Henry’s bird pie

There’s nothing like a pie. It might look as though this is a very thick white sauce. It is. The leeks, once they’re added, can make the filling quite liquid as they continue to cook and you’re also adding lemon juice and cream, so the base sauce needs to be thick.

serves 6

60g (2oz) unsalted butter
60g (2oz) plain flour, plus more to dust
500ml (18fl oz) whole milk
salt and pepper
3 tsp Dijon mustard, plus more to taste
juice of ½ lemon, plus more to taste
3 tbsp capers, rinsed
leaves from a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp crème fraîche
3 medium leeks, bases removed, cut into rings and washed
450g (1lb) cooked chicken, torn or cut into pieces
300g (10½oz) puff pastry
2 egg yolks, beaten with 2 tsp milk

Heat 40g (1½oz) of the butter in a saucepan and add the flour.
Stir this over a medium-low heat for a minute. Remove from
the heat and start adding the milk a little at a time (it’s better if
the milk has been heated, but often I don’t have time).

Mix well with a wooden spoon to ensure there are no lumps;
the mixture must be smooth. Keep adding and stirring until
all the milk has been added. Season. Return the pan to the heat
and, stirring continuously, bring to the boil. The mixture will
thicken considerably. Once it has come to the boil, reduce the
heat and simmer for about three minutes (this ‘cooks’ the flour
in the sauce). Stir in the mustard, lemon juice, capers, parsley
and crème fraîche and taste for seasoning.

Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan and gently sauté the
leeks for three minutes. Splash in 2 tbsp of water, season, cover
and cook over a low heat until tender, about seven minutes. If
there are lots of juices, increase the heat to reduce them.

Add the chicken to the sauce, then bring to the boil, reduce
the heat and heat the chicken through. Gently stir in the leeks
and taste. You may want to add more lemon juice or mustard.
Put the mixture into a 25 x 20cm (10 x 8in) pie dish – I like an
enamel one as it conducts the heat well – and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. On a lightly
floured surface, roll the pastry out to the thickness of a 50 pence
coin. Cut off a strip the same width as the lip of the pie dish.
Wet the lip and press this strip on to it. Brush the strip with
water and lay the rest of the pastry on top. Press the pastry lid
on to the pastry strip, then cut off the excess. Crimp the edges
and use the remaining pastry to decorate the top of the pie.

Make three small slits in the pastry (near the middle) to let the
steam escape. Brush the top with the egg mixture and put into
the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until the pastry is a deep golden
colour and puffed up. Serve immediately.

Recipe taken from A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry. Available here

A Bird In The Hand 3D web