Chicken, Pancetta & Leek Filo Pie

I admit that there’s not much original about combining chicken, bacon (or in this case pancetta) and mushroom in a pie filling. However, I do think that this succeeds where so many others can trip up: it’s just as nice in the depth of winter as it is in the height of summer.

This balance between comforting and light is achieved by the way it’s prepared. Poaching the chicken breasts in with the vegetables and stock keeps it moist and stops any flavour from escaping. It also removes the need for any additional butter, cream or cheese – great if you’re trying to watch your weight. Indeed, this was a method that I first encountered in a recipe by Angela Nielsen for BBC Good Food whilst I was in the middle of my 8 Month Challenge.

If you’re really trying to cut out on all the naughty foods you could just make the chicken filling and serve it as a light summery stew. I’ve done that before – with some mashed potatoes and a dollop of low-fat crème fraîche…

Not that I think you should serve it without a crust. I think there’s a lot to be said for the colour and texture that’s provided by the filo pastry topping. Rather than laying the filo flat across the top, I take a little more time to scrunch it up a little bit. This gives you lots of edges that will get extra crispy and golden brown in the oven. It also means that even a piece from the middle will have some crunch!

I know that there are some who would say “that’s not a pie, it’s a casserole with a filo pastry lid” but I quite like its lightness. If you’d prefer to go full pastry then be my guest – just let me know how it works out and whether it was worth the extra effort.

I should also mention that this is one of a few recipes on the site that make enough to feed four people – most of the others are for two. Just bear that in mind if you choose to scale things up or down. I always make the filling to this recipe and freeze half for another day.

It’s a nice treat to find at the back of the freezer in a few week’s time. Especially as it can be converted from freezer to table with minimum effort.

Chicken, Pancetta and Leek Filo Pie

An "all-seasons" chicken pie, containing the rich comfort-food requirements for a cold winter's night, yet light enough to be served on a warm summer's day.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British, Pies, Poultry
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 500 ml good quality Chicken Stock
  • 100 ml Vermouth or White Wine
  • 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
  • 3 sprigs Thyme
  • 200 g Carrots cut into discs
  • 1 pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breasts 150g each
  • 200 g Leeks washed and thinly sliced
  • 100 g Chestnut Mushrooms sliced
  • 65 g Pancetta cubed and fried until crisp
  • 2 tbsp Cornflour slaked in 2 tbsp Cold Water
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 sheets Filo Pastry
  • 20 g Butter melted

Instructions

  • Pour the stock and wine into a large, deep frying pan, then add the thyme, garlic and carrots. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Season the chicken breasts then add them to the pan. Cover and poach for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the sliced leeks to the pan, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until tender, then add the mushrooms before removing the pan from the heat. Keep it covered and put to one side for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop and the chicken to gently poach.
  • Remove the chicken breasts from the pan and cut or tear into bite-sized pieces. Strain the vegetable mixture through a sieve – retaining both the stock and vegetables separately. Put the chicken pieces and vegetables into an oven-proof dish, along with the cooked pancetta cubes.
  • Pour the liquid stock back into the frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add in the cornflour and water mixture and stir well. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat then add the mustard and season to taste. Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken and vegetables, then stir until well mixed.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  • Cut each sheet of filo into 4 squares or rectangles, brushing each with a small amount of melted butter. Lightly scrunch each sheet and place over the top of the pie, overlapping as needed. You want it to have a textured finish rather than laying flat. Tuck any loose edges into the side of the dish to avoid them burning.
  • Place the dish on a baking sheet, then put into the oven for 20-25 mins until the pastry is golden and the sauce is bubbling. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

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