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Festive Tips from Liberty London Girl

Food and Style writer Sasha Wilkins (Liberty London Girl) knows how to host the perfect party, which is why she has shared her top tips on party planning in the run up to the festive season. Lifted from her new book Friends, Food and Family, Sasha’s tips will help you throw a successful Christmas or New Years soirée.

What’s more, we also have the recipe for Sasha’s Giant Chicken Pie, perfect Boxing Day comfort food that will impress friends and family. Why not pair it with a chilled glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé to really bring the flavours to life.

Liberty London Girl’s Party Tips

• Fill the bath with ice and water as a temporary ice bucket
• You will always need more ice than you think
• Start chilling the wine and champagne the day before
• Buy the alcohol on sale or return
• Ban red wine
• Have empty cardboard boxes stashed away for all the empties
• Buy extra corkscrews if you are serving wine – someone WILL lose the only one
• Don’t serve anything with tomato in: spills never come out
• Prime the neighbours
• Make sure you have enough cash to pay helpers
• And for the biggest party luxury: book your cleaning lady for the next morning

Giant Chicken Pie Recipe

“Making a large pie can seem daunting but, wonderfully, it’s actually rather simple, requiring nothing more complicated than a standard roasting tin. I chose the tin, as opposed to a traditional china dish, for two reasons: when I first threw a party for 100 people and wanted to feed everyone pie, I needed five or six identical dishes, and that presented two problems: cost, and storage afterwards. Then I hit on the idea of using metal roasting tins because they can be picked up for a few pounds each and they stack together. They also conduct heat beautifully, so your pie hots up rapidly”

Sasha Wilkins, Liberty London Girl

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SERVES 12–15

For the poached chicken
1 large, organic, free-range
chicken (around 1.2–1.5kg)
1 carrot
1 onion
1 leek

For the pie
500g white mushrooms, quartered
4 leeks, thickly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, cut into chunks
100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 x 375g packets ready-made, rolled puff pastry
100g butter
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 litre hot liquid (preferably 500ml chicken stock and 500ml milk)
250g grated cheese (preferably Cheddar)
1 egg, lightly beaten
large roasting tin

 

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METHOD
Follow the instructions for poaching the chicken on page 73 of the book, straining and reserving the cooking liquid. Remove the meat from the bones (discarding the bones) and cut into bite-size pieces.

For the pie, fry the mushrooms and the leeks separately in 1 tbsp olive oil each and steam or boil the carrots until al dente. Set aside.

Sprinkle flour over the work surface and unroll one packet of pastry. Using the top of the roasting tin as a template, roll out the pastry further with a rolling pin (being careful not to roll it too thin) until it’s big enough to fit over the tin. Unroll the second packet of pastry and cut long strips the width and length of the lip of the roasting tin sides, to cover each side. Cover with a tea towel.

Using the butter, 100g flour, the mustard and hot liquid, make the white sauce according to the instructions on page 73 of the book, adding in the grated cheese at the end and stirring until melted through.

Tip the mushrooms, leeks and carrots into the roasting tin, being careful not to add the cooking liquid, as this will make the sauce too runny and cause it to separate. Add the chicken and distribute evenly. Pour the white sauce over the chicken and vegetables, making sure it is all mixed in. If you are using blackbird pie funnels, place these now. Leave to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Flip the large piece of pastry over the roasting tin, using a small sharp knife to make a cross where each blackbird will poke through. Do not worry if the pastry doesn’t quite stretch over the lip of the tin. Brush the beaten egg over the edges and place the pastry strips, cut earlier, over the lip of the tin to secure the pastry sheet on all sides. Brush the entire top of the pie with beaten egg.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and golden.

Friends, Food, Family: Recipes and Secrets from LibertyLondonGirl by Sasha Wilkins (Quadrille, £18.99)
Photography by Lisa Linder
Follow Liberty London Girl on Twitter @Libertylndngirl