Heston Blumenthal’s Chicken and Ham Pie

I’ve just returned to work after a long period off with a broken knee, and trying to get back into the swing of things (all while continuing rehab and learning to walk properly again) is seriously kicking my ass. I’ve been getting home exhausted and it’s a rare night when my eyes are still open after 8.30pm, so cooking duties have largely fallen to Scott … while I putter about in the kitchen with baking jobs that don’t need too much standing time.

Scott’s irrational hatred of shopping means we’ve been slowly depleting the storage freezer (which is a good thing, given we’re currently running two full-size domestic fridges, one bar fridge on the deck and a storage freezer. It’s well past time to consolidate, to reduce electricity costs if nothing else!) This weekend the debate was over what to do with some frozen chicken thighs. We’d watched Heston Blumethal’s series  How to Cook Like Heston online a while back and so the consensus was to give his delicious looking Chicken and Ham Pie a go. Thankfully we had some leftover Careme Butter Pastry in the freezer, which made the option much more feasible as neither of us is a big fan of fussing around actually making pastry.

In a move that surprised neither of us, the recipe – which is also contained in the Heston at Home Cookbook – was fairly process intensive. Scott commented that Heston was obviously single as clearly no individual who had a relationship or family responsibilities would have the time to prepare meals like this on a regular basis. He was deeply disappointed when I pointed out that the world’s favourite mad scientist in the kitchen actually had three teenaged kids and had been married for 20 years until late 2011, when he appears to have left his wife for a US cookbook author. I don’t think this pie had anything to do with it though. Scott found it too salty – probably the way the ham hock was prepared – but I loved it; it was the perfect dinner for a winter’s night in front of a dvd. The recipe follows after the jump.

Heston’s Chicken and Ham Pie


For the chicken

  • 8% brine (1kg cold tap water and 80g salt mixed together)
  • 8 boned and skinned chicken thighs (keep the skin)
  • 500ml chicken stock

For the leeks

  • 2 tbsp groundnut or grapeseed oil
  • Chicken skin from the thighs
  • 300g washed and finely sliced leeks, white part only

For the button mushrooms

  • 250g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 25g unsalted butter

For the sauce

  • 135ml double cream
  • 120ml white wine, reduced to a syrup consistency
  • 135ml whole milk
  • 90ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp agar agar flakes

To assemble and cook the pie

  • 200g cooked ham hock, chopped into small pieces
  • 25g wholegrain mustard
  • 15g Dijon mustard
  • 10g flat-leaf parsley
  • Pinch of  pepper
  • 1 x 250g packet all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  1. Place the brine in a bowl big enough to contain the chicken thighs. Add the chicken to the water and leave in the brine for 5 hours.
  2. Rinse the chicken under cold running water for 5 minutes, then pat dry with kitchen roll. Store in the fridge until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 85ºC.
  4. Place the brined chicken thighs in an ovenproof saucepan and cover with 500ml of chicken stock. Bring the stock to a simmer over a medium heat then place in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes.
  5. Allow the chicken to cool in the liquid before removing and dicing. Retain 90ml of the chicken stock for the sauce which will bind the pies. (The remaining stock can be used for soups or sauces.)
  6. In the meantime, cook the leeks. Place the pan over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin and render the fat from it for 10–15 minutes. Remove the skin and discard.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks to the fat. Cook until completely soft (approximately 15 minutes), then allow to cool in the pan.
  8. To cook the mushrooms, place a pan over a medium-high heat. Add the butter and when melted, add the mushrooms and cook until lightly colored (approximately 5 minutes). Drain the mushrooms on a plate covered with kitchen paper.
  9. For the sauce, put the cream, reduced wine, whole milk and reserved chicken stock into a pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Sprinkle in the agar agar flakes and whisk to incorporate. Simmer for 4 minutes then allow to cool and blitz thoroughly with a hand blender.
  10. When ready to assemble and cook the pie, preheat the oven to 215ºC.
  11. Mix the chicken thigh meat, diced ham, leeks, mushrooms, wholegrain and Dijon mustards together then add the sauce. Finely chop the parsley and add it to the mixture. Season with salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Pour into a family-sized pie dish (approximately 28cm in length).
  12. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Lay over the pie dish and fold the overhang around the lip of the dish to seal the edges. Rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.
  13. Crimp the edges of the pie with a fork for decoration then, using a pastry brush, coat the top of the pie with the beaten egg.
  14. Place the pie in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the pastry turns golden on top.

~ by swalloworspit on July 8, 2012.

One Response to “Heston Blumenthal’s Chicken and Ham Pie”

  1. […] Swallow or Spit – A fun report on Heston’s Chicken and Ham Pie recipe, with some sage ob… […]

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