Cold chicken and ham pie

Serves 8-10
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Traditional pies make the perfect picnic food, and if you make your own large pie everyone gets a slice with lots of filling and less pastry than the individual pies. If you're not a confident cook they can seem tricky to make, but believe me, they're no harder than most desserts. Once you've made a pie like this a couple of times you can adapt the filling according to your preference and what you have to hand, using ingredients such as veal and ham, layers of mushrooms or at Christmas time turkey, ham and cranberry.

Traditional pies make the perfect picnic food, and if you make your own large pie everyone gets a slice with lots of filling and less pastry than the individual pies. If you're not a confident cook they can seem tricky to make, but believe me, they're no harder than most desserts. Once you've made a pie like this a couple of times you can adapt the filling according to your preference and what you have to hand, using ingredients such as veal and ham, layers of mushrooms or at Christmas time turkey, ham and cranberry.

For this you'll need to cook a ham hock or ham joint. To do this soak the joint overnight in water if necessary then cover with water in a pan. Add a few sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, 1 or 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered, a couple of sticks of celery and a pinch of peppercorns. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours or so until the ham is tender. Check to see if the water needs topping up. Remove the ham from the liquid and leave to cool. Keep the stock.

450g home-cooked ham
450g boned weight of chicken thighs, skinned
4tbsp chopped parsley
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 gelatine leaves

for the hot-water crust

150ml water
130g lard
375g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
1 small egg, beaten

Gently cook the onion in the olive oil with a lid on for 3-4 minutes until soft. Finely chop or mince a fifth of the chicken thighs and the ham (you can also do this in a food processor) and mix with the chopped onions and parsley, and season.

Slice the ham into rough 1/2-3/4cm slices. Put the chicken thighs between 2 sheets of clingfilm and bat them out with a rolling pin or meat bat to roughly the same thickness as the ham and lightly season them.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Bring the water and lard to the boil in a saucepan then stir it into the flour with a wooden spoon to form a smooth dough. Leave the dough covered for about 15 minutes or so until it is cooler, less sticky and easier to handle.

You will need a deep flan ring measuring 18-20cm x about 5cm deep or a similar sized removable-bottomed cake tin. Lightly grease the flan ring and line the bottom with a disc of lightly greased silicone or greaseproof paper. Place it on a baking tray, lined with another piece of lightly greased silicone or greaseproof paper slightly larger than the flan ring.

Take two thirds of the dough and on a lightly floured table roll it into a circle about 1/2cm thick and about 25-26cm across, so it is large enough to line the flan ring and overlap the edge by a centimetre or so. Making sure there are no holes in the pastry, place the dough into the flan ring, carefully press into the corners and allow it to just hang over the edge. Roll the remaining dough into a circle just large enough for the top and cut a 2cm hole in the centre.

Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of ham, breaking it into pieces to fill the gaps, then a layer of chicken, again breaking or cutting it to fill the gaps. Follow this with all the chopped chicken and ham mixture, pressing it down firmly. Top with a final layer of ham then chicken and carefully lay the pastry on top.

Trim the edges of the pastry with a knife and pinch the base and top pastry edges together with your forefinger and thumb to make a good join. You can decorate the top and edges if you like.

Brush the top of the pie all over with the beaten egg and cook for 45 minutes. If it is colouring too much, cover with foil and turn the oven down. Remove the ring and brush the sides and top again with egg before baking for a further 15 minutes until nicely coloured. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once the pie is cold refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile measure 300ml of the reserved ham stock, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until they soften and squeeze out the excess water. Heat about 60ml of the stock in a saucepan and stir in the gelatine until it's dissolved then stir that into the rest of the stock. Leave to cool but do not let it set.

Once the pie is cold, check around the pastry for any holes and fill them with a little softened butter so that the jelly doesn't escape. Pour about a third of the stock into the round hole in the top of the pastry a little at a time in case there are any more holes. Return the pie to the fridge for 15 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the jelly until it's used up.

The pie will keep for about a week in the fridge, so it's not necessary to rush around the day before. To make the most dramatic impression take the whole pie on a picnic, and cut it up there. Serve cold with Cumberland sauce, piccalilli or your favourite chutney.

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