New Years Day – Chicken and Ham Pie

New Years Day – Chicken and Ham Pie

This is quite a complex job for some, but for a keen chef it takes about half a days work for a magnificent pie which will stun any visitors for your dinner party and take centre of place on your New Year Table.

My steps below give easily enough meat to make 2 round pies, 15cm and 25cm and I had some spare pork left over. I think the best plan is to over make, then you can always make some small ones, to give away to guests in any event.  Just be aware the pies are solid protein so are very filling, they do go a long way.

Meats/ Spices

  • 5kg approx. of Ham from a cooked gammon (medium salty) unsmoked is better or it can taint the delicate flavours of pie. You will need really to slice your own really thin, I recommend a slicer for this to get a even finish. A cheap one generally will work as the meat is not too hard. The slices are important as they provide a barrier to stop the moisture loss. Also you need some to cube as well.
  • 1kg Chicken Thigh – boned and skinned and then beaten flat using a plastic bag and meat mallet. They should be really flat.
  • With 2/3rd of the Chicken Thigh add some chopped parsley (1 bunch) and olive oil to lubricate the meat, salt and pepper and lemon zest (half lemon) and a squeeze of juice to freshen.
  • With 1/3rd of the Chicken Thigh chop small and add a handful of diced ham an add salt and pepper and parsley to taste. Remember the ham is salty!
  • 5kg Pork Mince – medium level of fat on this if possible. Mix some olive oil and fresh thyme that you have chopped finely and add salt and pepper. Add a handful of diced ham to the mix. Remember it is salty!

Pastry

You are making a hot water crust pastry to a standard method:

  • 1kg plain flour
  • 5 teaspoon of salt
  • 600ml water
  • 400g of beef dripping / lard mixture (what you have in!) I use a mixture of home rendered and bought in. Harder is better.

Simply heat the water, salt and fat till boiling point in a large saucepan, then stir in the flour and beat till smooth. If your hands are delicates use a plastic glove to take it out and shape to a ball. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes. Then roll into 4 weighed out balls for the base and lid and cool a little further. My recipe here will have wastage but it makes it easy to make sure you have plenty and allows for problems. But I think you could get away with 25% less ingredients. However, the problem with hot water crust, if you are struggling to roll it thin and it cools you have to make more which is not good.

15cm Cake Tin

  • 280g – Lid (150g spare)
  • 400g Base (130g spare)

 

25cm Cake Tin

  • 425g – Lid (235g spare)
  • 775g Base (120g spare)

 

Assemble the Pie

  1. Use a non-stick cake tin with a removable bottom and lever side if possible. However, usually the pie will shrink so the bottom is the key part!
  2. Use cling film to roll out the pastry, you need it really flat and no cracks. Cracks will mean you lose moisture and gelatine later. So avoid at all costs.
  3. Put a generous layer around the top of the tin as you will cut later and be gentle. Make sure the pastry really go int all the corners.
  4. Start adding the meat very carefully in layers. It will matter what this looks like so get it right. Layer with ham to completely cover, chicken thigh whole, ham again, chicken and ham mixture, pork and ham, ham again. In reality it is up to you how to do this but always start with ham first to shield the pastry from the juices of the meats. If your tin is very high you can do more!
  5. Create your lid (using cling film again to roll the pastry and support). Egg wash the top of the pie to help it stick and crimp then cut with a nice. Cleaner is better as excess pastry is just not required. You must seal is all the way around, no cracks again.
  6. Egg wash the whole pie and cut some shapes or leaves from the spare pastry to decorate. Press on gently and egg wash these too.

 

Baking

The pies will take between 40 mins for a very small dish (if you choose to do  mini ones) and 1 hour 20 for a larger one. The two I made differed by quite a lot. I baked on 200C in a fan for about 25 minutes to crisp them up and turned down to 180C for the reminder of the time and monitored the temperature of the meat ever 15 or 10 minutes with a meat thermometer. The centre will take time to cook and you are looking for the cooked through chicken thigh temperature, so I went to about 66C in the oven at the pie centre (it was hotter on edges). If you go to far you will dry the meat and waste all that effort. So remember that just like any roast the temperature in the middle will climb even when it comes out of the oven.  Also if you think your pie is pretty solid and crust is firm at about 2/3 of the cooking time, you may release your outer case and take away to allow the crust on the side to brown. However, only do this if you are confident it will not collapse. Beginners take note!

 

Aftercare

Let the pie cool for some time i.e. 1 hour before you remove the base and allow to cool properly. If you can put in an empty fridge at the top to cool quicker this is useful. Allow about 3 hours or more to ensure the pie is pretty solid and cool.

When the pie is out of the oven take a ready-made stock that you created from some bones i.e. beef rib, pork spine, bay leave and pepper corn. Ensure you have cooled and removed the fat which has rendered from the bones. Make sure it is salted for flavour and also to ensure it keeps, then add some gelatine leaves to mix. Usual method is 400ml of stock to 2 leaves which you have softened in water. Boil the stock and then when cooling mix in the gelatine. Allow to cool completely before use but it cannot be gloopy as it must flow into the pie.

Seal any cracks on the crust with a firm application of soft butter (not runny) and allow to firm up before injecting the gelatine carefully and slowly. Time spent is better than making a hole!

Allow to cool overnight to merge flavours before cutting with a sharp knife.

 

Video / Images (to fill in from video)

 

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