Try this chicken and ale pie recipe from Country Homes & Interiors to make a great centrepiece for a picnic or teatime spread
FOR THE PASTRY 550g plain flour, plus extra to dust 2 tsps salt 150g lard
FOR THE FILLING 450g boneless chicken breasts 550g diced pork shoulder 1 shallot, finely chopped 50g pistachio nuts, toasted 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary 1 tsp salt Freshly ground black pepper Beaten egg, to glaze 3 sheets leaf gelatine 150ml pork or chicken stock 150ml strong ale, such as Old Speckled Hen
Step 1) Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Grease and line a deep 18cm round loose-based cake tin. To make the pastry, put the flour and salt in a heatproof bowl. Cut the lard into pieces and put in a small saucepan with 275ml water. Heat until the lard has melted then bring to the boil. Add to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to a soft pliable dough, adding a dash more hot water if the dough is too dry. Turn out on to the worksurface and work into a smooth ball. Return one-third of the dough to the bowl and cover with a cloth. On a floured surface, roll out the remainder to a 32cm round and use to line the tin, pressing the dough up the sides so it just overhangs the top edge to make a rim. Make sure the pastry lines the tin in an even layer and that there are no cracks. Line with greaseproof paper and half fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 30 minutes. Lift out the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Step 2) Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts in half then horizontally into thinner slices (cut two thin slices from the thin end and three from the thick end). Finely chop the pork or blend in a food processor until not quite minced. Tip the pork into a bowl and mix in the shallot, pistachios, rosemary, salt and plenty of pepper.
Step 3) Arrange one-third of the chicken slices in the pastry case and top with one-third of the pork. Repeat layering, finishing with a layer of pork and doming the mixture up slightly in the centre to leave a gap around the sides. Roll out the remaining pastry until slightly larger than the diameter of the tin. Brush the cooked pastry edge with beaten egg and position the lid, pressing it down firmly around the edges. Trim off the excess with a knife and crimp the pastry edges. Make a hole in the top of the pie, brush with a little beaten egg and cut out decorative leaves from the trimmings. Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4 and bake for a further 1 hour. Carefully remove the pie from the tin and place on a baking sheet. Brush the top and sides of the pie with more beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Leave to cool.
Step 4) Soften the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan. Drain the gelatine leaves and lower them into the stock, stirring briefly to dissolve. Add the ale and leave until cold but not set. Position a small funnel over the hole in the top of the pie and slowly pour in the mixture until the pie is filled. Chill for several hours before serving.
Recipe by Joanna Farrow