Local chef Jack Dale, owner of Hote Plate Catering in Oldham, shares some of the techniques, dishes, tips and tricks that he has picked up over the years and hopes you will give them a go. let him know what you think at jackdale@hotplatecatering.co.uk

I spend so much time making pies for events around Oldham, typically the popular Meat and Potato and Cheese and Onion options, that it's easy to forget how many delicious pie options there are out there. From steak, chicken and even fish pies, the list really is endless! If it tastes nice and you can wrap it in pastry, it will usually make a great pie.

There's something homely and tempting about homemade pies, even as we head into warmer months. Many people will agree that a pie is only a true pie if it is completely encased in pastry, so this one is more of a "pot pie" as it only has a top crust, but either way, I highly recommend giving it a go!

Serves 6


4/5 Large Chicken Breasts

Fresh Parsley

2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

Tbsp Flour

2Tbsp Butter

Chicken Stock (about a pint)

Glass of White Wine

Salt and Pepper


400g Self Raising Flour

200g Shredded Suet

1 Egg

Fresh Parsley

1) Cover the chicken breasts with water in a good-sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Then turn down to simmer and poach until fully cooked. Remove the chicken breasts into a separate bowl (you could use at least some of the water to make your chicken stock if you are using cubes, you'll need about a pint).

2) Pull the chicken with two forks as you would to make pulled pork. It doesn't have to be completely even in size. The shredded chicken in a pie makes a huge difference when compared to chunks of plain old chicken breast. This way, you'll get plenty of chicken in every bite and maximum flavour throughout.

3) In a new pan melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Cook for a minute on medium heat to cook away that raw flour taste and then add a glass of cold white wine. Incorporate with a whisk or spoon until smooth and thick. Then add the chicken stock a splash at a time, whisking continuously until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. You are looking for the consistency of a smooth puree. If it's too thick, add a touch some more stock. Add fresh thyme and a handful of chopped fresh parsley.

4) Then add the shredded chicken breast, mix together well and season to taste with salt and pepper and leave off the heat.

5) To make the pastry combine the self-raising flour, shredded suet, another handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley and a small pinch of salt in a bowl with cold water to combine. Don't be tempted to add too much water too soon as it can be deceiving. You are looking for the dough to just about come together as a smooth but tacky dough, without being overly sticky. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes whilst your oven preheats to 180c (gas 4). This pastry works perfectly with this pie as it is a great cross between shortcrust and dumplings and soaks up the filling underneath!

6) Place your delicious chicken filling into an oven dish of your choice and when cooled slightly, roll out your pastry and place on top of the pie filling, crimping around the edges. Brush with egg wash and top with some salt and pepper to give the crust an extra seasoning and bake at 180c for 30 minutes or so until the pastry is golden and cooked through. Serve with some optional steamed veggies or whatever you might fancy that day.

This dish is quicker than it seems to prepare, only around one hour so a great one for a Saturday evening meal. You can add anything you like to yours, whether it's a bit of garlic, maybe some carrots, peas or even some leftover ham from a roast dinner would go perfectly.

TIP - When making egg wash to top pies, add a good pinch of salt to an egg and whisk. The salt breaks down the consistency of the egg and makes it much easier to use as an egg wash. You could even opt for a yolk only egg wash for an extra golden colour on your pastry top!