This is a teenager-approved recipe. I once placed this pie in front of a few weekend lodgers and hangers-on mistakenly thinking there would be some left for the next day. Foolish thinking indeed; it was gone in one appreciative whoosh!
With hindsight, that should have come as no surprise. Succulent chicken and gentle, velvety leek seem made for one another, the dash of grain mustard adds grown-up kick to the sauce and the crunchy finish of filo gives a comforting meal an indulgent edge. It’s a good choice for a crowd, not just because of the generous quantity but because it can be made ahead of time. Even though it looks time consuming, be assured that once the preparation is done the various stages are very hands-off, leaving you free to organise other things.
If you don’t often cook with leeks give them a whirl. Discard any very dark green bits right at the tips as they are tough, and give the lighter green and white parts a thorough rinsing in cold water to dislodge the sand and soil particles that often lodge among the leaf layers as the leek pushes its way through the ground to the surface.
When using filo, we strongly advise buying fresh over frozen—it is easily found in rolls in supermarket chiller cabinets and is much easier to wrangle. When you’re placing the filo on the pie, brushing each sheet with melted butter as you go, keep the unrolled filo covered with a clean, damp tea towel so that the pastry doesn’t dry out and crack.
The pie can be made in one generous dish or made into individual pot pies.
- Arrange chicken in the Varoma tray distributing it evenly between the top and bottom layers. Steam 20 minutes/Varoma/speed 2. Stir the chicken about to make sure it is cooked, if not steam a few minutes more.
- Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside; it will look decidedly unappetising at this point. Rinse out the mixing bowl.
- Place the leek into the mixing bowl. Chop 3 seconds/speed 4. Add the butter and cook 7 minutes/90 degrees/speed soft. Scrape the leek out and set aside with the chicken. There is no need to rinse the mixing bowl this time.
- Heat the oven to 180C fan-forced. Organise a shallow ovenproof dish approximately 30 centimetres x 18 centimetres.
- Pour the milk into the mixing bowl and add the bay leaves and onion. Heat the milk to infuse the flavours 10 minutes/60 degrees/speed soft. Pour the milk out into a separate jug.
- Add the butter to the Thermomix bowl and melt 2 minutes/60 degrees/speed soft.
- Add the plain flour then strain the milk back in. Cook 6 minutes/100 degrees/speed 4.
- Add the grain mustard, then return the chicken and leek including any juices. Fold the mixture together thoroughly with a spoon then season generously with salt and pepper.
- Spread the mixture into the dish and smooth the top. The pie can be prepared ahead up to this point.
- Place one sheet of filo at right angles over one half of the dish allowing the edges to hang over significantly. Place a second sheet next to it in the same way so the whole dish is covered with one layer. Brush the filo with melted butter, including the edges as best you can, then repeat the process until six sheets have been used.
- Fold the overhanging edges in along all four sides of the dish making them quite rough. Brush the remaining two sheets of filo with butter. Scrunch them up and lay them down the middle of the dish. The whole top of the pie should now be scrunchy.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 30–40 minutes or until the sides are bubbling and the pastry is nicely browned. Allow the pie to settle and cool a little before serving straight from the dish.
AND … if filo is not your thing you could try mashed potato or a crunchy layer of coarse brown breadcrumbs instead.