Chicken, leek & saffron pie

Lindsey Bareham’s daily recipe columns (first in the Evening Standard, later in The Times) have inspired many of our family meals over the years. This one stems from her recipe for a ‘pasty pie’ (Evening Standard, March 1998 – we were living in Rouse Gardens at the time) and has evolved into just a pie, with a number of modifications to the filling. LB’s original used chicken thighs, simmered with classic stock ingredients. Our preference is for breast pieces, a home-made stock, and a splash of wine too. ‘Creative’ pastry decorations are optional. Serve with green vegetables and potatoes if you fancy more carbs in addition to the pastry.

Serves 4-6


2 packs diced chicken breast pieces or 3 large breasts, cut into chunks or 6 meaty chicken thighs
3 leeks, trimmed, sliced into ½ cm rounds and washed
a generous pinch of saffron stamens
20g flour
20g butter
100ml white wine
100ml chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1 pack puff pastry, ideally ready-rolled
1 egg yolk, beaten with a splash of milk


Place the saffron in a small cup and pour on about 1 tbsp of boiling water. Melt the butter in a large frying pan for which you have a lid. Fry the leeks until they are softened a bit (5 mins) and then add the chicken. Continue to cook until the chicken surfaces have all turned opaque. Sprinkle on the flour and stir it in, then add the saffron and its water, along with the wine, stock, salt and pepper. Stir it all in, bring to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 fan / 200C.

Butter the edge of an oven-proof dish and then spoon in the chicken and leek filling. You should aim to use a dish that brings the filling as high as possible up to the surface.

Roll out (or unfurl) the pastry and trim some strips off the edges. Use these strips to cover the rim of your pie dish and brush the surface with egg wash. Cut a cross in the centre of the main pastry sheet, then lay it over the top of the pie. Pinch the top sheet all the way around the rim to seal it to the strip below and cut away the excess that hangs over the edge. Now ‘knock up’ the pastry edges to form a good seal by holding a sharp knife horizontally against the cut edge and gently tapping the pastry edge all round (this is something I learned from Great-Granny). Brush the pastry surface all over with egg wash. You can use any leftover bits of pastry to add your ‘individual’ decorations – brush these with egg wash too.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the pie is puffed and golden.

Published by motherrach

Alongside this blog, which records tried and tested family favourites, I’m documenting on Instagram (mother_rach_cooks) my efforts in repertoire expansion.

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