Sunday, October 25, 2015

Chicken Pie Recipe

A couple of years ago, in honour of a birthday present Le Creuset pie dish, I made a chicken pie that finally ticked all the boxes for my kids. Attempts back in the mists of time had left half the family lukewarm and, let’s face it, if you’re going to all the effort of making a chicken pie from scratch you want a few wows, some applause, at the very least a series of ‘yums’ running around the table. Finally however I’d found the right recipe for my family, creamy enough without being too rich, not too dry, no weird / scary vegetables lurking in the depths. That was a while back now and recently I started getting some less than subtle hints from the kids that they’d like another taste of that chicken pie.

A few weeks ago,  I finally had a few days without major writing deadlines, when I could abandon the computer early without a qualm, so I went looking for that chicken pie recipe as a starting point. Could I remember where I’d found it? I searched here on my blog, because if a recipe is that good the safest place to record it for posterity has to be here... only the failures came to light. Nigella’s pot pies may have wowed her children, but mine evidently have different tastes. I went back into Facebook archives to see if I’d mentioned it there. No joy. Finally I dusted off some recipe books languishing at the back of the pile under the kitchen counter (possibly two years worth of dust, it was hard to tell!) and finally found my source in Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking for Friends, given to me on the same birthday as the pie dish. I hadn’t followed the recipe to the letter, but it was what I’d based my successful pie on, so I was in business.

What I like about this recipe is that it uses the minimum of pots, just one in fact plus the pie dish, so you don’t end up with piles of washing up, and you could prepare most of it in advance quite easily and just post the pie into the oven in time for supper, if you were ever that organised. It’s also easy enough to substitute any vegetables that your kids find acceptable instead of the original mushrooms and baby onions that Gordon advises. I ended up using roughly chopped onions, carrots and potatoes because that was what I had, but peas could easily replace the carrots and, if I were making it for adults, leeks and mushrooms would be perfect too. Plus it’s relatively quick, apart from leaving things to cool before putting it all together.

Because I can see myself searching frantically  for the recipe again in another two years time, I’m posting my version here as a permanent reminder.

Chicken Pie Recipe

800ml chicken stock
2 sprigs thyme and bay leaf
500-600g chicken breasts
300g onion roughly chopped
200g vegetables chopped (potatoes, peas, carrots, leeks or mushrooms)
50g butter
50g flour
100ml milk or cream
1 egg yolk mixed with 2 teaspoons water
Pastry made from 250g flour / 125g butter / 6 tablespoons iced water or enough ready-made pastry to line top and bottom of a 23cm pie dish

Bring chicken stock to a simmer and poach the chicken breasts in it with the herbs for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Then chop into bite-size pieces.

Add onions to stock and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables according to size so that they are all cooked to al dente tenderness at same time. Remove to a plate to cool.

Boil the stock until it has reduced to about 1 ½ - 2 cups in volume. Tip it into a jug.

Melt the butter in the pot. Stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes to cook the flour. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring in thoroughly until you have a thick smooth sauce.

Add the milk or cream, stir well and simmer, stirring often until the sauce is thick and creamy.

Mix together the chopped chicken, cooked veggies and sauce and leave to cool completely.

Line a 23cm pie dish with pastry. Add cooled filling in an even layer.

Beat up the egg yolk with water to make an egg wash. Brush a little around the edge of the pastry. Put the top layer of pastry on, trim and crimp the edges. Cut a cross in the middle. Use any trimmings to make decorative leaves to go on the lid if you wish. Brush the whole top with the egg wash.

Bake at 200C/400F for approx 35 minutes until the top is golden and the the filling is bubbling.

 Bon Appetit!