For the pie filling
- 800g skinless & boneless chicken breast, thigh or mixture, diced
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ level tsp ground white pepper
- pinch tarragon
- 200g cooked gammon or ham hock
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley, flat or curly, finely chopped
- 2 bunches fresh asparagus (long and thin if possible)
- Iced water
For the hot water pastry
- 550g strong white bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 70g unsalted butter, diced (at room temperature)
- 1 tsp sunflower oil
- 100g lard
- 200ml boiling water
For the egg wash
- 1 egg, beaten
- pinch salt
For the chicken jelly
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 100ml boiling water
- 7g leaf gelatine
- In a large bowl mix together the chicken, salt, pepper and tarragon. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight, on the bottom fridge shelf.
- Begin by chopping the gammon and parsley and mix it into the chicken filling. Re-cover and return to the fridge until needed.
- Trim the asparagus stalks and cook in a saucepan of simmering salted water for 3 minutes. Drain, then plunge into iced water to set the colour. When cold, drain and place in the fridge.
Making the pastry
- Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, then make a well in the centre.
- In a heavy-based saucepan, gently heat the sunflower oil and lard until just melted. Add the boiling water and stir until combined.
- Pour the hot mixture into the flour and, with a spatula, gradually mix the flour and liquid together until a dough forms.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 2-3 minutes until smooth and shiny, taking care as it will be hot. The dough should be used while still warm, so that it does not crack as it cools.
Lining the tin
- Line the base of the tin with baking parchment, then place the sides on top so that the full base is lined.
- Cut the warm dough into 1/3 and 2/3, wrapping the small piece in cling film to keep it moist.
- Roll out the larger piece into 2 oblongs 7mm thick, each measuring 37 x 10cm. Cover with cling film.
- Roll out the smaller piece of dough into 2 oblongs for the pie base and lid. The base needs to be 20 x 10.5cm and 7mm thick and the lid is 20.5 x 11.5cm and 5mm thick. Keep the trimmings for decoration.
- Take one of the large oblongs of pastry and line one length and width of the tin sides, forming an L shape and overlapping the base of the tin by 1cm. Repeat with the second large oblong. Avoid air pockets and press the pieces to ensure a good seal.
- Place the pastry base into the tin and press firmly to make a tight seal with the sides.
Assembling & baking the pie
- Place half the chicken filling into the lined tin, pressing down firmly. Place the asparagus on top, in 2 layers, then top with the remaining chicken. Press down well.
- Dampen the edges of the pastry lid, place it on top of the pie and crimp to seal.
- Make a small steam hole in the centre of the lid, then decorate as desired with pastry trimmings. Chill the pie in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
- Put the tin on a baking sheet and place on the middle oven shelf. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 180°C/Gas 4 and bake for 1 hour. Keep an eye on the crust colour, and if it is getting too brown cover with tin foil.
- Take the pie out of the oven, remove the sides of the tin, then gently slide the pie off the cradle onto the baking tray. The pie is now on the base of the tin with all sides exposed.
- Brush the pastry lid and sides with egg wash to ensure a glossy finish, making sure all the crust is evenly coated. Insert a meat thermometer into the pie and return it to the oven at 180°C/Gas 4, checking the crust colour and covering with foil if needed. When the thermometer reaches 84°C remove the pie from the oven.
- Let the pie cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the chicken jelly by soaking the leaf gelatine in cold water. In a jug, dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water. Squeeze out the gelatine and dissolve it in the hot stock, then strain through a sieve.
- Insert a funnel into the steam hole and pour in as much jelly as the pie can hold. After 5 minutes add more jelly, and continue until the pie can absorb no more. When cool enough, place the pie in the fridge until the next day.