I like to use chicken thighs rather than breasts as they have a lot more flavour, with the tarragon and lemon contributing a lovely herbaceous freshness to the filling.
1 kilogram boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced 1 cm strips
½ cup plain flour
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
knob of butter
100 grams bacon, roughly chopped (we use Freedom Farms)
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
300 grams kumara, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup cream
Cream cheese and thyme pastry
200 grams butter, diced and chilled
150 grams cream cheese, chopped
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
7 cup capacity ovenproof pie dish
Pastry: Put all the ingredients except the milk, in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add just enough milk to bring the dough together. Tip onto the bench and form into a flat disc. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm.
Filling: Season the flour with salt and pepper and toss the chicken to coat, shaking off the excess. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour. Heat the oil and butter in a large sauté pan and cook the chicken until lightly golden. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl. Don’t let the flour catch and burn. Add the bacon, onion, leek, carrot and tarragon and cook until tender and starting to brown. Add the kumara, garlic and lemon zest and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved flour then the stock and cream to make a thick sauce. Season well and return the chicken and any meat juices to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Tip into the baking dish and cool completely.
To assemble: Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured bench so it’s large enough to cover the pie and hang down the sides of the dish. Brush with beaten egg and place egg washed side down over the filling. Gently press the pastry against the sides of the baking dish to seal. Brush with egg and cut a cross in the centre of the pastry. If desired, roll out the pastry scraps and stamp out shapes. Decorate the pie and brush with egg. Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is deeply golden and crisp and the filling is bubbling.