The recipe for the pastry for this pie came from an old family friend Mrs Norton. She liked using sparkling water in the pastry to keep it ‘light.’
For the pastry you’ll need: 500g cake flour, generous pinch of salt, 250g well chilled butter, 130g well chilled lard – or use 380g butter if you cant find lard, up to 180ml of chilled soda water.
Method: Sift the flour and the salt twice into the bowl of a food processor. Toss in the butter and the lard and pulse using a plastic blade until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in two thirds of the soda water and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Add more water a little at a time if necessary until all the meal is taken up. Dust with extra flour; cover with clingwrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board and with the flat of your hand press it out into a rectangular shape about 2 cm thick. Keeping the board dusted with flour and using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a strip about 35cm long and about 15 cm wide. Fold in three and turn the open end towards you. Repeat the rolling process four times and when finished, fold it in three again. Rest in the refrigerator for up to two days or seal well and freeze.
For the chicken filling you’ll need: 2 Free Range – preferably organic – Chickens, sea salt, freshly milled black pepper, 500ml full bodied off dry white wine – Chenin Blanc, 250ml NoMu chicken Fond, 2 onions, finely sliced, 2 sticks celery, finely sliced, 2 large carrots, finely sliced, some chopped celery leaves, some whole parsley stalks, 2 bay leaves, a little melted butter.
Sauce ingredients: 1 whole peeled onion, 6 cloves, 3 blades of mace, 650ml full cream milk, 125g butter, 60g flour, 250ml chicken stock, 100ml cream, 200g diced cooked ham, 4 Tbs chopped parsley, 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard. Pastry glaze: 1 egg white, pinch salt.
Method: Preset the oven at 180C. Truss the chickens after seasoning them well inside with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper. Pour the wine and the chicken stock into a roasting dish. Add the vegetables and the aromatics making a bed for the chickens. Place the chickens on top, paint with the melted butter and season with the salt and freshly milled black pepper. Cover with foil and roast in the preset oven for 75 – 90 minutes or until all redness around the leg joints has disappeared. For the sauce, take the whole peeled onion and stick the cloves into it. Place in a saucepan with the blades of mace and pour over the milk. Heat the milk until just below boiling temperature, cover and remove from the heat and allow to infuse until you need it. Remove the skin and the bones from the chicken and cut the meat into chunks and place in a 2-litre pie dish. Add the bones and skin to the roasting dish and simmer until the stock is reduced to 250ml. Strain and set aside for later use in the sauce. Prepare the sauce. Strain onion and the mace off the milk. Melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour and cook for a short while. Raise the temperature and whisk in the stock, the infused milk and cream. Bring to the boil and simmer for a while to cook the flour. Stir in the ham, parsley and mustard. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Pour the sauce over the chicken ensuring a good mix. Place the mixture into an oval pie dish, cover and allow to cool. On the farm we used a large deep rectangular yellow enamelled pie dish with a cute little pie elephant in the middle to hols up the pastry. When you are ready to bake the pie preset the oven on 220C. Cover the pie with the puff pastry lining the edge of the dish with a strip of pastry to give the pie a thick edge. Decorate with pastry leaves and scallop the edges. Cut some vent holes to allow steam to escape. Whisk up the egg white with a pinch of salt and brush it over the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190C and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the pie is nicely golden brown on top.