You will need:
For the chicken
8% brine (80g salt dissolved in 1kg tap water)
8 boned and skinned chicken thighs (keep the skin)
500g brown chicken stock
For the ham
1 gammon joint, weighing approx. 1kg
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 leek, white part only, cleaned and finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
For the leeks
2 tbsp groundnut or grapeseed oil
Chicken skin from the thighs
300g leeks, white part only, cleaned and finely sliced
For the mustard sauce
200g white wine
225g whole milk
225g double cream
150g brown chicken stock (from above)
2 tbsp agar-agar flakes
30g dijon mustard
40g wholegrain mustard
Salt and black pepper
To assemble and cook the pies
5g tarragon leaves
10g flat-leaf parsley
250g all-butter puff pastry
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1. Place the brine in a bowl big enough to contain the chicken thighs. Add the chicken and leave for five hours. Rinse the chicken under cold running water for five minutes, then dry with kitchen roll. Store in the fridge until needed. Two hours after you have started brining the chicken, pre-heat the oven to 85ºC / gas mark 1.
2. Put the gammon joint and vegetables in an ovenproof saucepan, and pour in enough cold water to cover the meat. Put a lid on the pan and place over a medium heat. Bring the water to a simmer and then place the pan in the oven for five hours, or until the meat flakes. Allow the meat to cool in the liquid before removing and dicing.
3. When the gammon has been cooking for three hours, place the brined chicken thighs in another ovenproof saucepan and cover with the chicken stock. Bring the stock to a simmer over a medium heat, then place in the oven, along with the ham, for 1 hour 30 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool in the liquid before removing and dicing. Keep 150g of the chicken stock for the mustard sauce that will bind the pies.
4. Meanwhile, cook the leeks. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with the oil and place the pan over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin and render the fat from it for 10–15 minutes. Remove the skin and discard. Reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks to the fat. Cook until completely soft (approximately 15 minutes), then allow to cool in the pan.
5. Now make the mustard sauce. In a saucepan, reduce the white wine by two-thirds. Add the milk, cream and chicken stock and cook for 10 minutes over a low heat while whisking. Sprinkle the agar-agar into the pan and whisk it into the sauce. Continue to simmer for four minutes. Allow to cool, then blitz thoroughly with a hand blender.
6. Return the pan to a medium heat, stir in the Dijon and wholegrain mustards, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. When ready to assemble and cook the pies, pre-heat the oven to 215ºC / gas mark 6 ½ . Mix the diced ham and chicken with the mustard sauce and leeks. Finely chop the herbs, add them to the mixture and adjust the seasoning. Pour into individual pie dishes, approximately 10 centimetre in diameter (or, if you prefer, a family-sized dish, approximately 28 centimetre in length).
7. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface until approximately five milimetre thick. Cut out six circles slightly larger than the diameter of the pie dishes (or cut to the right size for a single pie). Leave the pastry in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.
8. Lay the pastry discs over the pie dishes and fold the overhang around the lip of the each dish to seal the edges. Crimp the edges of the pies with a fork for decoration. Make a few holes in the middle to release the steam. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the pies with the beaten egg.
9. Place in the oven for approximately 15–20 minutes or until the pastry turns golden on top.
Heston Blumenthal at Home by Heston Blumenthal (Bloomsbury)
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