December Recipe: Christmas Pie

pieChristmas Pie is one of the tastiest savoury recipes for the season that I have made and, as you can see, feeds quite a few folk.  Do please use good quality skinned sausages rather than ready made sausagemeat and a spring clip tin is a boon for this recipe.  It would most certainly freeze if you want to make it in advance.  Ready made shortcrust pastry is now available in most supermarkets, but try to get one made with butter.  As a retired cookery teacher I make my own, but am aware that a lot of folk have problems with pastry so do not endure a lot of stress in this stress filled season, buy ready made if its easier!


  • 2 tbsps. olive oil
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g. / 1lb. good quality skinned sausages
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g. / 4ozs. fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 85g. / 3ozs. ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
  • 50g. / 2ozs. chestnuts, canned or vacuum-packed, chopped
  • 2 tsps. chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 100g. / 4ozs. cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 500g. / 1lb. 2ozs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 500g. / 1lb. 2 oz. pack ready-made shortcrust pastry
  • beaten egg to glaze

1. Heat oven to 190C / fan 170C / gas mark 5.  Heat 1 tbsp. of oil and the butter in a frying pan, then add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until softened.  Cool slightly.  Tip the sausagemeat, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, apricots, chestnuts and thyme into a bowl.  Add the onion and cranberries, and mix everything together with your hands, adding plenty of pepper and a little salt.

2. Cut each chicken breast into three fillets lengthwise and season all over with salt and pepper.  Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan, and fry the chicken fillets quickly until browned, about 6 – 8 minutes.

3. Roll out two thirds of the pastry to line a 20 – 23cm. springform or deep loose-based tart tin.  Press in half the sausage mix and spread to level.  Then add the chicken pieces in one layer and cover with the rest of the sausage.  Press down lightly.

4. Roll out the remaining pastry.  Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and cover with the pastry lid.  Pinch the edges to seal, then trim.  Brush the top of the pie with egg, then roll out the trimmings to make holly leaf shapes and berries.  Decorate the pie and brush again with egg.

5. Set the tin on a baking sheet and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, then cool in the tin for 15 minutes.  Remove and leave to cool completely before freezing.  Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat covered in foil.  Serve with a crunchy winter salad.

6. Crunchy Winter Salad:  450g. / 1lb. carrots, 1 small celeriac 1 red onion sliced, 50g. / 2ozs. chopped mixed nuts, 4 tbsps. olive oil, 2 tbsps. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard.  Peel the carrots and celeriac and grate.  Mix together with the onion and nuts.  Whisk the oil and vinegar with some mustard, salt and pepper and toss with the salad immediately to stop the celeriac going brown.


Photos from Helen Pull, not Liz Whattler – whose pies would be much more elegant!

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