Creamy Chicken and Apple Pie with Cardamom

Chicken pies are an old-fashioned favourite. This one, with its luxuriously creamy sauce, crumbly pastry and aroma of cardamom, is a great favourite. Serve with broccoli, if possible, which goes well with the sauce.

Ingredients

  • 550-675 g/1¼-1½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 25 g/1 oz butter
  • 3-4 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1 rounded tablespoon plain flour
  • 300 ml/½ pint cider
  • finely grated rind and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 150 ml/¼ pint double cream
  • 2 dessert apples
  • salt

For the pastry

  • 225 g/8 oz strong plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g/4 oz butter
  • 50 g/2 oz vegetable fat
  • 2 tablespoons very cold water
  • milk, to glaze

Method

Make the pastry first. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter and fat into small pieces, add them to the flour and crumble with your fingertips until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Add the water and stir with a knife until the dough begins to stick together. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. To make the filling, cut each chicken thigh into 3 pieces. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind with a pestle and mortar. Melt the butter in a flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chicken pieces and ground cardamom until the chicken is coated with butter. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper and some salt, then stir in the flour. Gradually stir in the cider with the lemon rind and juice. Put the casserole back over a higher heat until the juices bubble and thicken, stirring all the time, then cover, place in the centre of the oven and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and stir in the cream. Check the seasoning.

Peel and core the apples, slice thinly in semi-circles and add to the casserole. Transfer the mixture to a pie dish or earthenware flan dish and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Knead the pastry lightly, then roll it out thickly on a lightly floured surface into a piece big enough to cover the top of the pie dish. Moisten the edges of the dish and lay the pastry on top. Press the edges down lightly and trim neatly. Reroll the trimmings and use to make decorations. Cut 2 holes in the pastry to allow steam to escape, brush all over with milk and cook in the centre of the oven for 25-35 minutes, until well browned.

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