Chicken pie

Chicken pie

By
From
How I cook
Serves
6
Photographer
Jason Lowe

This is a deeply satisfying weekday supper dish. Lovely on a winter’s evening when the light drops from the sky late in the afternoon, it will warm you right to your core. I like to serve the pie simply with a mound of buttered wilted spinach.

You can prepare the pie in advance and keep it in the fridge, ready to glaze and bake – just allow an extra 10 minutes in the oven. Or you might prefer to just make the pastry ahead – wrap well and keep in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for a couple of weeks or so. The pie will also reheat successfully in a warm oven if you have any left over.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Shortcrust pastry

Quantity Ingredient
500g plain white flour, plus extra to dust
generous pinch sea salt
250g unsalted butter, well chilled, cut into little cubes
1 organic free-range large egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons cool water
1 organic free-range egg, lightly beaten, to glaze

Filling

Quantity Ingredient
1 organic free-range chicken, about 1.5kg
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
10 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
small bunch thyme
small bunch parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
150ml crème fraîche
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
bunch flat-leaf parsley, stalks removed, roughly chopped

Method

  1. To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter lightly and evenly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Lightly beat the egg yolk with the water, then sprinkle over the flour. Work gently with your fingertips to form a dough, adding a little more water if necessary. Form into a ball and knead lightly on a floured surface. Wrap in baking parchment and rest in the fridge for 1 hour, or until needed.
  2. For the filling, wash and pat dry the chicken, removing any giblets and/or fat deposits from inside the cavity. Place the chicken in a cooking pot large enough to hold it comfortably and add the celery, a third of the carrots, the peppercorns and herbs. Pour on enough water to cover the chicken and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer and poach for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and leave the chicken to cool in its liquor.
  3. Simmer the rest of the carrots in a pan of salted water until just tender, about 7–10 minutes; drain and set aside.
  4. Once the chicken is completely cooled, lift it out onto a board. Strain the liquor and reserve 500ml for the pie (keep the rest to use as stock). Tear the chicken into generous pieces, discarding the skin. Set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, over a very low heat for a minute or so, without colouring. Slowly stir in the reserved liquor and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Add the crème fraîche, season generously and take off the heat. If the sauce is at all lumpy, pass through a sieve. Stir through the chopped parsley and leave to cool.
  6. Divide the pastry in two, making one portion slightly bigger than the other. Re-wrap the smaller one (for the lid) and return to the fridge.
  7. Roll out the other portion on a floured surface to a round, large enough to line a 20cm fluted pie tin, about 3cm deep; the round will need to be at least 28cm in diameter. Lift the pastry into the tin, press it evenly onto the base and sides, then trim the edge. Prick the base lightly with a fork. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C.
  8. Line the pastry case with a piece of baking parchment and half-fill with baking beans (or dried beans). Bake the pastry case on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes to slightly dry out the base. Set aside to cool a little.
  9. In the meantime, roll out the other piece of pastry thinly to a round, 5mm thick, for the pie lid.
  10. Spoon the chicken mixture into the pastry case then, using a rolling pin, lift the pastry round over the top to cover. Press the pastry edges together with your fingertips to seal and mark a cross in the centre of the pie. Brush the pie generously with beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  11. Leave the pie to stand on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

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