Four Colly Birds

Four Colly Birds

Day four of The Twelve Days Of Christmas-four colly birds.  Colly birds were the original name for blackbirds and in my attempt at being authentic I didn’t think Blackbird would go down too well, even with the least squeamish of you all.  So I went in search of blackbird pie funnels and came up with a chicken and ham pie with a difference.  Chicken, ham and leek pie with vanilla.

Making Pastry

Pastry Recipe from Short and sweet by Dan Lepard

  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150g butter
  • 75ml ice-cold water


  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients.
  • Rub the butter into the other ingredients until it forms coarse crumbs.
  • Add the water and bring together into a dough
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Chicken, Leek And Ham With Vanilla Pie

Pie Filling

  • 500g chicken thigh cut into small pieces
  • 500g chicken wings
  • 250g thick cut ham cut into cubes
  • 1 leek finely sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 x 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium carrot ( about 65g) finely chopped
  • 45g butter
  • 45g plain flour
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 300ml cream ( you can substitute this for milk)
  • Grated whole nutmeg
  • Vanilla pod slit and seeds scraped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg yolk to glaze pastry


  • Make the bechamel sauce
  • Melt the butter in a pan
  • Add the flour to the butter  and mix over a low heat and cook for 5 minutes, to cook the flour through.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and add a small amount of the milk, stir to combine completely.
  • Add the remainder of the milk bit by bit and mix in well, until it’s all combined.
  • Then add the cream and stir.
  • Grate about 1/4 teaspoon of whole nutmeg into the pan and also the vanilla seeds and the vanilla pod.  Stir well.
  • Stir through the grainy  Dijon mustard
  • Put back on a low heat and stir continually for about 15 minutes until thickened.
  • Season to taste.
  • Set aside
  • Put the olive oil in a wide pan; when it has heated up add the chicken wings to brown.  These will be used for flavour only to add a stock element to the final filling.
  • When the chicken wings have browned on both sides and the juices have caramelised on the bottom of the pan, remove the wings with a slotted spoon.
  • Deglaze the pan with 70ml white wine, pour off and set aside.
  • Add 25g butter to the pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Add the finely chopped carrots and leeks and cook to caramelise.
  • Add the chicken thighs to the pan and brown.
  • Add the ham and the set-aside juices from the pan.
  • Remove the vanilla pod and bay leaf and discard.
  • Add the bechamel to the pan of chicken and ham mix, stir well and leave to cool.
  • Place the pie funnels in the pie dish.
  • When cool transfer the chicken mixture to the pie dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick.
  • Wet the lip of the pie dish with water.
  • Lift carefully over the pie dish and rest on the funnels.
  • make a x cut in the pastry at each funnel tip and allow the pastry to slide over the funnels.
  • Press the pastry onto the edge of the dish and cut off any excess.
  • Cut a 1cm wide strip of pastry from the excess, long enough to go all around the pie dish. ( you may need to make a join).
  • Dampen the edge of the lid and lay the strip around the pie.
  • Crimp the edge using the tips of thumb and first finger of each hand pinching the pastry together.
  • Using a pastry brush wash the top with the egg yolk.
  • Put the pie in the middle of the oven and bake for 40 minutes.


Chicken, ham and leek pie with vanilla

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  1. says

    the vanilla just gives it a richness and works well with the nutmeg. Because there isn’t any sugar you don’t get a custard connection. GG

    • says

      Minus the ham would be fine. The birds and the dish are made here in the UK in one of the few factories left in Stoke On Trent that still make ceramics rather than the Far East. GG

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