Recipes for August 2022

Chicken With Curried Fennel Sauce

SERVES 4

15g. / 1oz. butter
4 chicken breasts
2 large fennel bulbs
3 cardamom pods
2 large garlic cloves
2.5cm. / 1 inch piece of root ginger
1 fresh red chilli
1 tsp. gd. coriander
½ tsp. gd. cinnamon
½ tsp. gd. cloves
1 tbsp. plain flour
150mls. / ¼ pt. natural yoghurt
8 tbsps. lemon juice
1 ½ tbsps. tomato puree mixed into 300mls.
 ½ pt. water

To serve:

Handful of fresh coriander leaves

  1. Set the oven to gas mark 4 / 180.  Heat the oil and half the butter and add the chicken pieces and brown them all over.  Put the chicken into a large casserole.
  2. Cut off the base and stalks of the fennel and remove any marked outer parts and cut the bulbs into 6 – 8 pieces each.  Blanch the pieces in boiling salted water for a few minutes to soften slightly.
  3. Put the fennel in the dish around the chicken.  Roughly crush the cardamom pods and scatter them in with the fennel.  Peel the garlic and ginger and chop finely.  Cut the chilli open lengthways and discard any seeds and slice very thinly.
  4. Put the frying pan back on the heat, adding the remaining butter.  Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and the ground spices and stir for 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour and continue to stir for 1 minute.  Stir in the yoghurt in one direction only, add the lemon juice to the tomato puree mixture and stir into the fried spices.
  5. Bring to the boil and stir until the sauce thickens, season to taste with a little salt.  Pour the sauce over the fennel in the casserole dish.  Cover and cook for one hour.  Serve with basmati rice and a green vegetable.

You will require an apron and tea towel, a large frying pan and a large casserole dish plus foil to cover and clingfilm.

TIP

The reason for telling you to stir the yogurt in one direction is that it can split.  Adding a teaspoon of cornflour to your yogurt prevents this.  You could, of course, use creme fraiche instead of yogurt if you are worried.  I have never known that to split ever.

Plum & Hazelnut Cake Or Pear & Walnut Cake

SERVES 6

8 – 10 large red plums, halved & stoned or 3 pears
125g. / 4 ½ ozs. soft butter, plus extra for greasing
100g. / 3 ½ ozs. caster sugar, plus 1 extra tbsp.
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
100g. / 3 ½ ozs. self-raising flour, sifted
100g. / 3 ½ ozs. toasted hazelnuts ground or walnuts
2 tbsps. whole milk

  1. Cut each plum half into 3 slices or the cored pears into about 1 cm. / ½ inch thick slices.  Butter a 20cm. 8 inch springform tin and line the base with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
  2.  Put the butter, sugar (minus the extra tablespoon), eggs, lemon zest, flour, nuts and milk into a food processor and whiz until smooth.  Spoon the batter into the tin and arrange the plum or pear slices, cut-side up, in circles on top.  Make sure you pack them well together.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. caster sugar (or more if the plums are very tart) and bake in an oven preheated to 180C / gas mark 4 for 40 minutes.  A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
  3. Let the cake cool in its tin for 15 minutes, then remove it, peeling off the greaseproof paper on the bottom, and put it on a wire rack to cool completely.

You will need a 20cm. / 8 inch springform tin, apron, teatowel and baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

TIP

Bentleys Fruit Farm near Newent have lovely plums which they say will be available until well into September.

Recipes for July 2022

TRIPLE TOMATO TART – Serves 6

250g. / 9ozs, ready made puff pastry (all butter is best)
3 tbsps. sun dried tomato puree, or ordinary tomato puree
250g. / 9 ozs. ripe vine tomatoes, sliced
150g. / 5 1/2 ozs. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 egg yolk
125g. / 4 1/2 ozs. Italian sliced salami, chopped
salt and pepper
handful thyme sprigs

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas Mark 5.  Roll out the pastry to form a rectangle 36cm. / 14 inches long and 25cm. / 10 inches wide and lift on to a heavy duty baking tray.
  2. Spread the tomato puree over the pastry, leaving a 3cm. / 1 1/4 inch margin around the edge.  Arrange the vine tomato slices over the tomato puree, scatter over the cherry tomato halves, top with the rosemary and drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.  Brush the edges of the pastry with egg yolk and bake for 10 minutes.  Scatter over the salami and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes.   
  3. Remove the tart from the oven and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with the remaining oil and scatter over the thyme.

TIPS

You could make this into a vegetarian version by leaving out the salami and instead using feta or goat’s cheese.  Another alternative is roasted peppers and pine kernels instead of the salami.

Some sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips,  could be added at the same time as the salami.

A LEMONY HAZELNUT AND BLUEBERRY CAKE – Serves 8 – 10

115g. hazelnuts
260g. unsalted butter, really soft
225g. white spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
130g. honey (or golden caster sugar)
130g. maple syrup
finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon

For the filling:

350mls. double cream
2 – 3 tbsps. honey
2 – 3 tbsps. blueberry jam
200g. fresh blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.  Grease and line 2 x 20cm. loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
  2. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 5 – 7 minutes but check after 5.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool then whizz in a food processor into fine meal.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and beat in all the other ingredients using an electric handmixer.  Be careful not to overmix.  Scrape the mixture into the tins and level the tops with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the cakes are risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tins and placing on a wire rack.
  4. When cool, lightly whip the cream until soft peaks form, drizzle in the honey and whisk again.  Take one spoonful of jam at a time and carefully marble it through the cream.  Carefully place one cake on a cake plate, spoon over two thirds of the marbled honey cream and place the second cake on top.  Spread the remaining third of the honey cream on top of the 2nd cake, then sprinkle the fresh blueberries over the cream.

TIPS

You could use ground almonds instead of toasting hazelnuts and whizzing them in your food processor.

If you want to cut down on the cream content, I would use half the amount and just put it in the centre.  I would then lightly poach the blueberries and put those on the top.  You could use 1 tbsp. of jam for the centre filling and spread 1 tbsp. of jam on top which would help to anchor the blueberries.

Recipes for June 2022

GREEN LENTILS, ASPARAGUS AND WATERCRESS

200g. green lentils
120g. watercress, thick stalks removed
40g. parsley
150mls. light olive oil
400g. asparagus spears
100g. pecorino cheese
4 lemon wedges,
salt and black pepper

Wash the lentils in cold water, then place in a saucepan with plenty of fresh water and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked.

While the lentils are cooking, put half of the watercress, the parsley, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and some salt into a food processor.  Blitz until smooth and pour into a bowl.

As soon as the lentils are cooked drain them well and mix them while still hot with the watercress dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Break off the end of the asparagus spears and discard.  Cook the asparagus in simmering salted water for 2 – 3 minutes, drain and cut the spears into roughly 6cm. long segments.

You can serve the salad warm or at room temperature.  Toss together the lentils, asparagus and most of the remaining watercress.  Add pieces of cheese as you plate up and garnish with the reserved watercress.  Serve with wedges of lemon.

NOTES

I think this salad would be lovely served with a piece of roast chicken or salmon with a salsa verde sauce for the chicken or salmon.  To make a salsa verde sauce you need 1 large bunch of mixed herbs (parsley, basil and mint say), 1 clove of garlic, 2 tbsps. of capers, 3 gherkins, 2 – 3 anchovy fillets, 1 heaped tbsp. of french mustard, 4 tbsps. olive oil, 1 – 2 tbsps. red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  Chop all the herbs, capers, gherkins and mix with the rest of the ingredients.

Alternatively, you could add a cooked breast of chicken or salmon to the salad, omit the cheese, and make it a more substantial dish.

STRAWBERRY LABNEH

500g. thick (not low fat) Greek yogurt
400g. strawberries
1 ½  tsp. caster sugar
2 tsps.rosewater
3 tbsps. good honey

Mix yogurt and 50g. of icing sugar and set over a basin lined with muslin or a clean J-cloth.  Put in the fridge and leave to drain overnight (12 hours is best).

Hull and quarter the strawberries and mix with the sugar and rosewater and leave to macerate for a few hours.

Gently fold the honey into the labneh which, by now, will resemble cream cheese.  Puree a quarter of the strawberries, pile the rest on top of the labneh and drizzle with the pureed strawberries.

NOTES

This can be served with poached fruits such as plums or rhubarb, or raspberries rather than strawberries.

To make savoury labneh mix 500g. of thick Greek yogurt with 1/2 tsp. of salt and leave to drain overnight as before.

Make the labneh into balls by rolling between your hands to shape them and then leaving on a clean cloth lined tray.  They can be marinated in olive oil (4 tbsps. for this quantity), some dried oregano or fresh thyme leaves (about 1 tbsp.), the zest of a lemon and a few chilli flakes.  Store in the fridge and serve with flatbreads as a starter or nibble. 

Recipes for May 2022

Quick Rhubarb Chutney with Cardamom

Makes 2 x 500g. jars

200mls. cider vinegar
400g. soft light brown sugar
100g. raisins
2 red onions, chopped
2cm. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
seeds from 20 cardamom pods
4 – 5 star anise
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1kg. rhubarb, cut into 3cm. lengths

Put all the ingredients except the rhubarb into a large, heavy based pan, bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Add the rhubarb and bring back to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool slightly and spoon into dry, warm, sterilised jars, (you can sterilise them in a very hot dishwasher, or boil them in a pan of water for 10 minutes.  Cover with a wax disc, then seal and label with the date.  This chutney can be eaten straight away.  Once opened it is best stored in the fridge, and will keep for up to a month.

TIPS

You can use this chutney in the usual way with bread and cheese, or alongside cottage pie, but it is also good heated through and served with roast pork, duck or grilled mackerel. 

I sterilise my jars in the oven, at a low temperature, for about 15 minutes.

Fillet of Salmon with Sweet-Sour Beetroot and Dill Crème Fraiche – Serves 6

For the dill crème fraiche:

200g. / 7ozs. crème fraiche
2 tbsps. grain mustard
1 ½ tbsps. chopped dill

For the beetroot:

500g. / 1lb. cooked beetroot
50g. / 2ozs. unsalted butter
½ tbsp. oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 tbsps. caster sugar
1 ½ tbsps. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

For the salmon:

30g. / 1¼ozs. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. oil
6 x 175g. (6oz.) salmon fillets
good squeeze of lemon juice

 

To make the dill crème fraiche simply mix the crème fraiche, mustard and dill together and refrigerate until you need it.

Cut the beetroot into small pieces.  Season and taste for sweet/sour balance, you may want more sugar or vinegar.  Set aside and reheat before serving.  Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and cook the onions until soft.  Add the beetroot and increase the heat.  Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sugar and stir until beginning to caramelize.  Add the vinegar and let it bubble.

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan.  Season the salmon on both sides and cook over a medium heat, flesh side down, for 1½ – 2 minutes or until golden.  Turn over and cook for 1½ – 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat and cook until done but still moist.  Squeeze on some lemon juice.  Serve with the beetroot and dill crème fraiche.

TIPS

We had this dish for lunch and I used vacuum packed beetroot which worked well.  Just pat it dry before cooking.  I also used dried dill, about 1 tsp., as fresh dill is often hard to come by.

I served it with new potatoes.

April 2022 Recipes

EASY LEMON TART – Serves 6

Pastry:

125g. plain flour
100g. melted butter
3 tbsps. icing sugar, sieved

Lemon Filling:

150mls. whipping or double cream, not single
50g. caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 large lemons, juiced and the rind of 1

  1. Mix the flour and sieved icing sugar in a bowl.  Melt the butter and press the dough into the base and sides of a 7 inch / 18cm. diameter pie tin (I used a sponge tin with a loose base).  Bake blind for 20 minutes at 190 degrees.  Cool.  Reduce oven temperature to 150.
  2. Whisk all the filling ingredients together and pour into the pastry lined tin.  Bake for another 35 – 40 minutes until set.  Allow to cool before slicing.  This would be lovely served with some raspberries / blueberries and some coulis.  It does not require more cream in my opinion.

TIPS

Baking blind stops you getting a soggy bottom.  I have special baking (ceramic beans) but you can use rice or any dried beans.  Just line the tin with baking parchment so that the base is weighed down.

I didn’t refrigerate my tart and it lasted for 3 days.  Keeping it out of the fridge stopped the pastry going soggy.  It was beautifully crisp the first day, not quite so crisp the following day but still very good.

Pour the filling into the tin whilst it is in the oven and on a baking tray then you won’t have to carry it across the kitchen – use a jug for the purpose.

SLOW COOKED SHOULDER OF LAMB WITH ROSEMARY AND ONION SAUCE – Serves 4 – 6

 

6 garlic cloves
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
10 bay leaves
2 – 2.2kg. shoulder of lamb
salt & pepper
250mls. red wine

For the rosemary and onion sauce

50g. butter
1 onion (about 200g. finely sliced)
2 tbsps. plain flour
500mls. milk
2 tbsps. cream or creme fraiche
1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary

Preheat the oven to 160/ gas mark 2-3.  Place the unpeeled garlic in the bottom of a large roasting tin with the rosemary and bay leaves.  Sit the lamb on top and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 2 hours, then pour in the wine and roast for a further hour.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over a low heat, add the onion and saute until soft.  Stir in the flour and then add the milk gradually, stirring all the time.  Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, add the cream and rosemary and cook for another 5 minutes, again stirring all the time.  The sauce should not be too thick so add the little more milk if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.

Take the lamb out of the oven and transfer to a warm plate.  Cover in foil whilst you make the gravy.  Discard the rosemary, bay leaves and garlic and spoon off all the fat.  Put the tin over a medium heat and add a little water (or vegetable water) and bring to the boil, stirring to make a gravy.  Arrange the lamb meat in chunks on a serving plate, pour over the gravy and serve with the rosemary and onion sauce.

Eat More “Nose to Tail”: Return of the Simmered Bone Broth

Our guest blogger Liz Pearson Mann explores the parts of the animal our thoughts may not normally reach, shares her personal views with us and provides some recipes:

A native African mother gives her baby its first solid food, according to local cultural wisdom.  She offers up raw liver, which she has first thoughtfully chewed.  People of the Sudanese/Ethiopian border also highly value liver. They believe that their soul resides in the liver, and that a person’s character and physical growth depends on how well they feed the soul by eating it. Indeed, liver is so sacred that it cannot be touched by human hands. This report was given by Weston A Price in the 1930s. He was a Canadian dentist and researcher of indigenous tribes and their approach to health through food.

Liver – this is just one component of “nose to tail” eating.  Cheek, heart, liver, tripe (stomach), kidneys, blood, ribs, tail bone, trotters and more could be added to the list depending on your tastes, of course.  Although this is food we’ve long been eating (until recent decades), you might ask if we’d want to return to it. However, if you want to enjoy a healthy diet, and be sustainable in your eating, read on.

You could be forgiven for thinking that nose to tail eating is merely a frugal way to make do, and poor fare at that. But, this is the way our ancestors ate.  They used knowledge passed down through generations in order to maintain the health of whole communities through the food they ate, and the health of their local natural landscape.  Yet, those eating habits of small, remote indigenous communities are still relevant, even here in a modern Herefordshire landscape.

Wheat and Meat

On the Ledbury Food Group blog, in Diversify Your Grains: Throw in Some Beans we told how the stiff, fertile clay soils surrounding Ledbury have been the focus of heavy wheat crops for centuries, but not without problems.  Even fertile soils can be worn out through constant cropping, if not rejuvenated by fallow periods, with grazing and manuring with livestock in the mix.  Professor Thorold Rogers, in the Victoria County History of Herefordshire, explained how land during medieval times was let to lie fallow every three years, sometimes reduced to two.  He wrote “But fallowing alone could not keep the land in good heart, so that by the end of the 15th century the arable land was being worn out.”  There is only ever so much wheat we can grow and eat, and conversely only so many animals we can ever raise and eat. Balance has always been key.  Enter “nose to tail” eating as part of the balance.
 

Sheep grazing in a fallow field
Sheep grazing in a fallow field

Ancestral Food and Thrifty Fare

The most nourishing minerals, vitamins and compounds (like gelatine) are to be found in parts of an animal we rarely eat these days.  People have always known this without the need for modern science.  They’ve observed the connection between health and food, passing this knowledge down through descendants by word of mouth for most of human existence: this is ancient nutrition.  For instance, if you’ve ever bought glucosamine capsules for joint pain, you’re buying a medicine that is found in collagen and gelatine released in a pot of slow-simmered bone broth. You could see this as ancestral food versus techno food, and natural health versus Big Pharma.

“Nose to tail” eating is easy on the budget too; after all, liver, kidneys, black pudding, sausages and slow-roast joints of meat are well known for being thrifty fare.  Farmers can’t raise just a pork chop, lamb shank, or beef topside joint – they have to raise the whole animal.  Many say that to eat the whole animal is to respect the life of the animal.  Though some may not wish to eat meat, or any part of an animal, a truth we may find harder to accept today is that all diets require the sacrifice of life.  We are all part of the circle of life, however we eat.

Here are some ideas for “nose to tail” cooking:

Cheeky Recipes: Beef Cheeks

With rising interest in slow-roasting, slow-simmering and ‘slow food’, beef cheeks have seen some attention in the cooking world recently.  D T Waller and Sons butchers, at The Homend in Ledbury, rate ox cheeks as a good buy at certain times of the year, so check in with them to find out when they may have them in stock.

If you’re looking for recipes, then here’s one that covers some basics:

How to cook ox cheeks by Farmison

And, if you like to try recipes from famous chefs:

Beef cheeks in red wine from Jamie Oliver

Braised beef cheek from Great British Chefs

The Middle and the Tail End of the Story

Sally Fallon, in her book about ‘Nourishing Traditions’ points out that American cook books of only a century ago were full of “nose to tail” recipes. The same could be said of a cook book I own which was my great-grandmother’s. Coombs Unrivalled Cookery for the Middle Classes was published in 1911 with a title which wouldn’t sit well with many people today!

My Great-Grandmother’s cookbook – full of nose to tail recipes.
My Great-Grandmother’s cookbook – full of nose to tail recipes.

Many of the recipe names in my book sound rather up-market (it’s the style), and though made from simple, basic ingredients, they’re still good.  Here’s an easy one for grilled kidneys:

Grilled kidneys a La Maître D’hôtel – Serves 2

3 sheep’s kidneys
1 tsp lemon juice
1oz butter
1 tsp chopped parsley
Pepper and salt

Method:

  • Skin and core the kidneys and cut into halves
  • Grill for seven minutes, and serve with butter in each

For the butter:

  • Put all the ingredients on a plate and work with a knife until the butter absorbs the lemon juice and parsley.

 Stewed Oxtail and Tomatoes – Serves 5 – 6

Here’s an oxtail recipe from my great-grandmother’s cookbook.  It was more commonly seen in previous decades, but it still lives on, mostly as commercially-made oxtail soup.  You’re unlikely to see oxtail (bone with the meat) in a supermarket, and it’s even hard to get it from a butcher’s, but D T Waller and Sons on The Homend in Ledbury sell it.  It would be worth asking at any local butchers whether they normally sell it, or would order some in for you.  (Please note, though, that modern food safety requirements restrict what butchers can sell today compared with butchers of the past.)

1.5 kg oxtail joints
Chopped ham (to taste)
1oz of cornflour
4 or 5 tomatoes
1 1/4 pints warm water
Little pepper
1 small onion
1 oz butter
1/2 tsp gravy powder*

* The original recipe lists ‘Coombs gravy salt’, which isn’t made anymore, but I take this to mean gravy powder, now mostly superseded by gravy granules. I suggest using the instructions on the back of the packet and adjust for 1 1/4 pints of water.  If you can make your own stock, it will be tastier and more nutritious.

Method:

  • Wash and remove the fat from the oxtail, melt the butter in a pan, and fry until brown.
  • Also fry the ham (adjust amount to taste), the onion (sliced), and the tomatoes cut into slices.
  • Add the water and simmer slowly for two hours
  • Put the tail on a hot dish
  • Mix the cornflour with a little cold water, thicken the sauce with this, add pepper and gravy powder, and pour over the pieces of tail and serve. The sauce can be strained if liked

If you find you have some left over, you can freeze if for another tasty meal.

Find Out More

For more information, try:

It Takes Guts: A Meat-Eater’s Guide to Eating Offal by Ashleigh VanHouten

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon (with Mary Enig)

Liz Pearson Mann is a writer, archaeologist, crafter and grower. She writes about being rooted in landscape, traditional culture and evergreen skills. She is author of Eat Like Your Ancestors (From the Ground Beneath Your Feet): A Sustainable Food Journey Around the English West Midlands

Thanks to Matt Waller of D T Waller and Sons for information and help in the preparation of this blog,

March 2022 Recipes

FAST CHEESY HERB MUFFINS – Makes 12

Good with soup, salads or for eating on the go!

275g. / 10ozs. self raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
50g. / 2ozs. butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
250mls. / 9fl. ozs. milk
75g. / 3ozs. cheddar, grated
leaves of 1 bunch of basil, chopped
75g. / 3ozs. pitted black olives, chopped
2 tbsps. sun-dried tomato paste

  1. You will need a 12 hole muffin tin and 12 muffin cases.  Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6.
  2. Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Mix the butter, egg and milk together in a jug.
  3. Add the cheese, basil and olives to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour in the wet ingredients and gently stir everything together using a fork.  Mix in the sun-dried tomato paste right at the end to give a rippled effect through the batter.
  4. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes until well risen and lightly golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Serve warm or cold.

TIPS

These are best made and eaten on the day but will keep for 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container.  They freeze well for up to a month.  Defrost and warm through at a low heat in the oven to refresh.

If you can’t find muffin cases you could use cupcake cases, they are larger than fairy cake cases but not quite as deep as muffin cases, so the mixture may stretch to a few extra muffins.  Gently swirl in the sun-dried tomato paste, without stirring it in completely, as this gives a lovely hit of tomato when you eat the muffin.

CHICKEN AND LEEK SUET CRUST PIE – Serves 6

2 tbsps. oil
4 slim, small leeks or 2 fat ones, trimmed and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut fairly small
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts (about 450g. in weight)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsps. plain flour
150mls. (5fl. ozs.) Marsala or sherry
200g. / 7ozs. full-fat creme fraiche
2 tbsps. chopped parsley

For the pastry:

150g. / 6ozs. self raising flour
75g. / 3ozs. suet
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten

  1. You will need a 26cm. / 10 1/2 inch pie dish that can hold about 1.2 litres (2 pints).  Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/ gas mark 7.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan.  Add the leeks, carrots and onion and fry until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil, season the chicken and fry over a high heat until browned.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour and Marsala / sherry in a bowl until smooth then tip into the pan.  Add the crème fraiche and stir until thickened and combined.  Add back in the leeks, chicken etc.  Add the parsley, season, spoon into the pie dish and allow to cool.  You could do this step the day before.
  5. To make the pastry, measure the flour, suet and salt into a large bowl and pour in enough water (about 100mls. / 3fl. ozs.) to make a soft dough.  Add the water gradually, do not tip it all in at once, and stir with a knife as you go.  Bring together with your hands and lightly knead.  Roll out on a floured surface to about 1cm. / 1/2 inch thick and large enough to cover the top of the pie dish.
  6. Brush the edge of the dish with a little of the beaten egg, then carefully lay the pastry over the filling.  Trim the edges and press to seal.  Brush with more beaten egg and make a small hole in the middle of the pastry to allow steam to escape.  Place on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 – 30 minutes until lightly golden.
  7. Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

TIPS

I had a pie dish of exactly the right dimension, but I also have 2 that are deep and oval, so if you can get the filling in, a dish of that type would be fine.  You wouldn’t need as much pastry for covering the top with a dish of that shape.

If you have a pie funnel (I have 2) I suggest you use one as it keeps the lid from getting soggy on the bottom by holding it up.  You can still buy pie funnels in a good kitchen shop (I have seen them in the one in Ledbury).

The pie can be totally assembled up to 6 hours ahead and baked to serve.  The pre-baked pie freezes well.  Bake straight from frozen for 40 – 45 minutes.