Home Healthy Eating How to Make the Perfect Pie: A Chef’s Top Tips for Success This British Pie Week

How to Make the Perfect Pie: A Chef’s Top Tips for Success This British Pie Week

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People have been making pies all over the world for as long as they’ve been cooking, but they’ve managed to become a real staple of British cuisine. With British Pie Week coming up, Jordan Moore, senior food development manager at recipe box service Gousto, has shared his top tips on how to make the perfect pie, so you can keep it classic or get inventive while celebrating these warming and delicious meals. 

Start with toppings

Jordan says, “The great thing about pies is that there are plenty of different ways to make them, so you can find something to suit everyone.

“If you’re going for a pastry topping, using an egg wash will give you the perfect golden colour that we all know and love. To add some extra flavour, I love sprinkling dried herbs on top of the egg wash. Not only will this accentuate the taste, but it will also smell delicious when you bring it out of the oven. 

“If you’re opting for a mashed potato topping, like on this classic Shepherd’s Pie, it’s essential to make more than you need; you don’t want to end up with any of the filling popping out from the bottom of the dish!

“If you’re looking to get adventurous, why not try baking vegetables into the top of your pastry like in this Springtime asparagus pie? This will add a bold look and develop the flavours.”

Onto the fillings 

“I love a bit of spice in my pie fillings,” says Jordan. “This Lentil curry pie will bring some fragrance to the dinner table, especially when served with mustard greens.

“For me, a staple recipe is this creamy chicken and leek pie. Make sure to prepare the filling a day in advance so the flavours can develop while the filling thickens. You can keep your filling in the fridge until you’re ready to top with your pastry and bake until golden.” 

Four recipes to help you celebrate British Pie Week in style:

1. Creamy chicken, leek and bacon pie with dill pastry

Instructions for two portions

Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 50g soft cheese 
  • 1 waxy potato
  • 1 puff pastry
  • 160g fine green beans
  • 5.5g chicken stock mix
  • 2 British chicken breast portions
  • 10.5g wholegrain mustard
  • 15ml Chinese rice wine
  • 100g British bacon lardons
  • 1 leek
  • 5g dill
  • 3 garlic cloves

You’ll also need: butter, flour, milk, olive oil, pepper, salt, vegetable oil, and water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C (fan) or gas 7, then take your chicken out of the fridge, open the packet, and let it air. Boil half a kettle, then chop your dill finely.

Add the chicken breast to a baking paper-lined tray with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then put the tray in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through (no pink meat).

2. Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a drizzle of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add your bacon lardons and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Chop your leek in half lengthways, wash thoroughly to remove any grit, then top, tail, and slice finely. Peel and finely chop your garlic, then chop your waxy potato in half.

3. Once the lardons are crisp, add the sliced leek and cook for 4–5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Dissolve your chicken stock mix in 80 ml of boiled water and add 50 ml of milk, your soft cheese, and your wholegrain mustard. This is your stock.

Once the leek has softened, add half the chopped garlic (save the rest for later) with 1 tablespoon flour and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

4. Add the stock to the pan with your Chinese rice wine and a generous crack of pepper; bring to a boil over high heat; and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a clean board and shred it apart using two forks – this technique is known as “pulling”.

Reserve the tray with the baking paper and add the chopped waxy potatoes, a drizzle of vegetable oil, and a generous pinch of salt.

5. Put the waxy potatoes in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until golden.

Dust your work surface with a generous sprinkling of flour and unwrap your puff pastry, then roll it out to approximately 0.5cm thickness with a rolling pin.

Wash with a little milk and press the chopped dill into the pastry – this is your dill pastry. 

6. Add the pulled chicken to the pan with a generous grind of black pepper and give everything a good mix-up – this is your creamy chicken pie filling.

Transfer the creamy chicken pie filling to an oven-proof dish, then lay the dill pastry over the oven-proof dish and trim off any excess.

Press the edges with a fork to seal the pastry to the dish, and put it in the oven for 15–20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up, golden, and cooked through.

7. Trim, then add your green beans to a large piece of tin foil with the remaining chopped garlic, a large knob of butter, and 2 tablespoons of cold water.

Scrunch the edges of the foil around the green beans to form a sealed parcel and add it to a separate baking tray.

Put the tray in the oven for 10–12 minutes or until tender with a slight bite – these are your garlicky green beans.

Serve the creamy chicken, leek, and bacon pie with dill pastry, with the roast potatoes and garlicky green beans to the side, and season with a grind of black pepper.

2. Chicken and chorizo pie with herby mash and greens

Instructions for two portions

Time: 40 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 80g crème fraîche 
  • 1 puff pastry
  • 100g diced chorizo
  • 3 white potatoes
  • 2 British chicken breast portions
  • 160g blanched peas
  • 15ml Chinese rice wine
  • 10g parsley & chives
  • 80g fine green beans
  • 1 red onion

You’ll also need: butter, flour, milk, olive oil, pepper, and salt

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C (fan) or gas 6, then take your chicken out of the fridge, open the packet, and let it air.

Peel and finely slice your red onion, then heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a drizzle of olive oil over high heat. Once hot, add the sliced onion with a pinch of salt and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to soften. 

2. Dust your work surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Unwrap your puff pastry, roll it out to approx. 0.5cm thickness with a rolling pin, and cut into one rectangle per person.

Add the pastry to a non-stick baking paper-lined tray and carefully score the pastry with a criss-cross pattern. Season with a grind of pepper and put the tray in the oven for 15 min or until the pastry is golden, cooked through and puffed up – this is your pie lid. 

3. Once the onion has softened, add your diced chorizo to the pan.

Chop your chicken breast portion into bite-sized pieces. After the chorizo has been cooking for 4–5 minutes, add the chopped chicken to the pan and cook for 6–7 minutes further or until browned all over. Then boil a full kettle.

4. While the chicken is cooking, peel your potatoes and chop them into large, bite-sized pieces. Add the chopped potatoes to a pot with plenty of boiled water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until fork tender. Once done, drain and return to the pot to steam dry.

5. Add 1 teaspoon flour to the pan with the chicken and give everything a good mix-up, then add 150 ml of milk and the crème fraîche. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 6–7 minutes further or until the chicken is cooked through (no pink meat) and the sauce has thickened to a double cream-like consistency. Stir through your Chinese rice wine and cook for one minute further – this is your chicken & chorizo pie filling.

6. Meanwhile, reboil half a kettle and trim your green beans. Add the trimmed green beans to a separate pot and cover them with boiled water (just enough to cover them!). Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until tender.

Once tender, add your blanched peas and cook for one minute further, or until warmed through. Drain the vegetables and set aside for serving.

7. While the vegetables are cooking, chop your parsley and chives finely, including the stalks. Return the drained potatoes to a low heat with a knob of butter and a splash of milk, and season with a pinch of salt. Mash the potatoes until smooth, then stir through the chopped parsley & chives – this is your herby mash.

Serve the chicken and chorizo pie filling with the herby mash and green beans and peas to the side, and top the filling with a pie lid.

3. Plant-based creamy leek and mushroom pie

Instructions for two portions

Time: 35 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 puff pastry 
  • 250ml creamy single oat
  • 11g vegetable stock mix
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 160g blanched peas
  • 21g wholegrain mustard
  • 160g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 leek
  • 2 garlic cloves

You’ll also need: olive oil, pepper, salt, and flour

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C (fan)/gas 7.

Slice your chestnut mushrooms roughly. Wash your leeks carefully to remove any grit from between the leaves, then top, tail, and slice finely. Peel and finely chop (or grate) your garlic.

2. Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the sliced mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until they begin to soften.

3. Once the mushrooms have started to soften, add the sliced leek, chopped garlic, and dried oregano and cook for 2–3 minutes further. Add a splash of your creamy single oat to a bowl and reserve for later (you’ll use this to glaze the pastry!).

4. Once the leek has started to soften, add your wholegrain mustard, remaining creamy single oat, and vegetable stock mix. Add a generous grind of black pepper and cook for 1–2 minutes or until everything is combined – this is your creamy leek & mushroom pie filling.

5. Add the creamy leek & mushroom pie filling to an oven-proof dish (or two).

Dust your work surface with a generous sprinkling of flour. Unwrap your puff pastry, roll it out to approx. 0.5cm thickness with a rolling pin, and score a criss-cross pattern across the top with a knife.

6. Lay the puff pastry sheet over the pie dish and trim off any excess.

Tip: Use any excess pastry to add decorations to the pie!

Press the edges with a fork to seal the pastry to the dish, then brush the reserved creamy single oat all over. Put the dish in the oven for 20–25 minutes or until puffed up, golden, and cooked through – this is your plant-based creamy leek and mushroom pie. 

7. Once the pie is almost done, boil a kettle. Add your blanched peas to a pot, cover them with boiled water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cook for 1–2 minutes or until bright green and tender.

Once done, drain the peas and return them to the pot with a pinch of salt. Serve the plant-based, creamy leek and mushroom pie with the peas to the side.

4. Lentil and mushroom pie with garlicky greens

Instructions for two portions

Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 16g tomato paste
  • 11g vegetable stock mix
  • 150g puff pastry
  • 250g cooked black beluga lentils
  • 80g chestnut mushrooms
  • 120g shredded kale
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8ml soy sauce 
  • 1 brown onion

You’ll also need: butter, flour, olive oil, pepper, and salt

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C (fan)/gas 7.

Peel and finely chop the brown onion. Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion with a pinch of salt and cook for 4 minutes, or until it begins to soften.

2. While the onion is softening, peel and finely chop (or grate) the garlic. Slice the chestnut mushrooms finely, then boil half a kettle.

3. Once the onion has softened, add the beluga lentils to the onion with 1 teaspoon of flour and a generous grind of pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 1–2 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, dissolve the vegetable stock mix, tomato paste, and soy sauce in 250 ml of boiled water; this is your vegetable stock.

5. Add half the chopped garlic to the pan (save the rest for later) with the sliced mushrooms and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the vegetable stock, give everything a good mix, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10–11 minutes or until thickened to a bolognese-like consistency – this is your lentil & mushroom pie mix.

6. While your pie mix is cooking, line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Unwrap the puff pastry and cut it into two squares. Score a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry with a knife. Crimp the borders with a fork and put the tray in the oven for 15 minutes or until puffed up and golden – these are your pie lids. 

7. Once the pastry is almost cooked, heat a separate, large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with a large knob of butter.

Once hot, add the shredded kale with the remaining chopped garlic and a small splash of cold water and cook for 2–3 minutes or until tender – these are your garlicky greens.

Serve the pie lids over the lentil & mushroom pie mix, with the garlicky greens to the side.

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