But my favourite pies of all are these fabulous ones which I've been making for longer than I can remember - they are slightly adapted from my favourite Australian chef Bill Granger's book Sydney Food:
Individual chicken, leek and tarragon pies
Not only are they delicious, but they are also quick to make as they don't need the usual pre-two hour-long-stew which is required for meat pies. And the flavours just come together in the most warm, sweet, delicate yet deeply-scented way... utterly divine. Children love them too - my daughter regularly asks to take one for her packed school lunch! AND these pies also work extremely well with left-over cooked chicken - a brilliant way to use up the rest of the Sunday "farmyard scratcher". ( I also made them with the rest of last Christmas' turkey crown and, last week, with left-over veal chops - both an absolute triumph!)*
500g chicken breast, cut into smallish (3-4cm) dice
3 tbsp of well-seasoned plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
80 ml white wine
250 ml chicken stock
125 ml cream
250g frozen peas
1 heaped tbsp of chopped tarragon***
300g puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 180°.
Put the seasoned flour and chicken pieces into a ziplock bag and stir to combine.
Heat half the oil and butter in a large pan and cook the leeks and garlic over medium heat until soft (ca 5 mins).
Remove the leeks, add the rest of the butter and oil and fry off the chicken pieces until lightly browned and sealed. Add the stock and scrape off any pan stickings. Add the leeks, wine, cream, peas and tarragon and simmer for 5 mins.
While the mixture cools, line 4 loose-bottomed tartlet tins (10-12 cm) with baking paper. Roll out the puff pastry and cut 4 circles big enough to line the bases and sides of the tins. Also cut 4 circles for the tops. Line the tins with the 4 big circles and spoon in the filling. Place the tops on the pies and crimp/seal the edges firmly with your fingers.
Bake in the oven for 35 mins or until golden brown.
Serve with a green salad.
*If you use already cooked meat, just add the 3 tbsp of flour to the filling after the tarragon and stir to combine before simmering.
**I always save any leftover bits and pieces of leeks from previous meals in the freezer - and I often top this up with ready-chopped frozen leeks - Aldi (Trader Joe's in the US) sell 700g bags for 89 cents which is fantastic value. Use ca 350g for this recipe.
***I also use frozen tarragon as I haven't had any luck with growing them in my garden and a bought pot just goes to waste... A small container from Delhaize costs just 1.29€ and lasts for AGES.