Serves 4-6

We are lucky enough these days to have all the cuts of chicken available to us, conveniently packed and ready to cook. Boned thighs are perfect for long-cooking methods like this as they don't dry out like a breast. Originally this dish would have been made using a boiling fowl, but these are difficult to come by nowadays. You could also use oysters or girolles instead, which would add great colour and flavour to the finished sauce.

750g boned, skinned chicken thighs, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
100g rindless smoked streaky bacon, cut into rough 2cm chunks
250g button mushrooms, halved or quartered
3tbsp flour
4tbsp white wine
350ml chicken stock
2tbsp chopped parsley

For the suet pastry

275g self-raising flour, plus more to dust
140g beef suet
tsp salt

To make the suet, mix the flour and suet in a bowl and add the salt; mix into a dough with 100ml cold water. The dough should be soft, but firm enough to roll into a circle large enough to line a 2-litre pudding basin. Cut a quarter out of the circle for the lid. Butter a pudding basin, drop the larger piece of pastry into it (it should fit nicely with the quarter removed), joining the edges where the quarter was removed. Trim the edges around the bowl. Season the thighs; lightly flour. Melt 15g of the butter in a large frying pan and cook the chicken gently for a couple of minutes on each side without colouring. Remove from the pan; put to one side. In the same pan, melt the rest of the butter and cook the onions and bacon until soft; add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the flour, stir well, then slowly stir in the white wine and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Mix the sauce with the chicken thighs and parsley. Adjust the seasoning and tip the mixture into the lined pudding basin. Remould the pastry for the top and roll it out to the correct size to top the pudding. Lay it on top of the filling and press the edges together so that the filling is sealed in; trim the pastry where necessary.

Cut a piece of foil big enough to fit over the basin and overlap the sides, making a pleat down the middle to allow for expansion during cooking. Tie it in place with some string, making a string handle so it can be lifted when topping up with water. Half fill a pan large enough to accommodate the bowl with water, bring to the boil and lower the pudding into it. The water must be boiling and come about halfway up the side of the pudding basin. Cover with a lid and simmer very gently for 4 hours. If the water level gets low, lift the basin out and top up with more boiling water. To serve, remove foil and serve the pudding straight from the basin. Serve with mash, greens or root vegetables.

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