Chicken pie - Two warming recipes for a traditional and classic chicken pie.

Chicken pie

There's nothing more warming than a huge piece of homemade chicken pie with a pastry crust, served with mashed potatoes and lashings of gravy. This dish is ideal for those cold, wintry evenings after a long hard day at work or a tiring journey in the pouring rain.

If apple pie is the mother of all sweet pies, then chicken pie must be the mother of all savoury pies. Chicken pie is a timeless classic that has been around for centuries.
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There are numerous variations of the chicken pie recipe. Some varieties may be made with a two-crust pastry or puff pastry whilst others may contain their delights underneath a single upper pastry crust. For those in need of a calorie-fuelled treat, there's the chicken pie made with serious amounts of double cream, whilst for those who don't want to miss out on their favourite dish but prefer a less indulgent meal, a chicken pie made with the stock from the boiled chicken may just do the trick.

You can make a chicken pie starting off with a whole chicken or just as easily from the remaining chicken meat left over from a roast chicken dinner made previously.

A traditional chicken pie will contain plenty of fabulous fresh vegetables including carrots, peas, leeks or onions. Nowadays, you can add almost anything to your chicken pie, for example mushrooms, potatoes, sweet corn, parsnips or ham.

Below are two recipes for chicken pie. The first is a recipe for a traditional chicken pie made with cream, vegetables, wine and sherry covered with a rich shortcrust pastry.

The second recipe is a healthier version, made only with chicken stock and covered with a pastry crust made from shortcrust pastry. Both, however, are equally delicious.

Traditional Chicken Pie

Ingredients
  • For the pastry
    • 6 oz (170 g) of plain flour
    • 4 oz (115 g) of lard or vegetable fat
    • 2-3 tbsp of iced water
    • pinch of salt
  • For the filling
    • 12 oz (340 g) of cooked chicken cut into chunks or small pieces
    • 12 fl oz (340 ml) of chicken stock
    • 6 fl oz (170 ml) of whipping cream
    • 3 fl oz (85 ml) of dry white wine
    • 3 fl oz (85 ml) of medium sherry
    • 3½ oz (100 g) of frozen peas
    • 2 oz (55 g) of butter
    • 3 diced carrots
    • 1 diced parsnip
    • 1 medium chopped onion
    • 3 tbsp of plain flour
    • 1 tbsp of freshly chopped parsley
    • 1 tsp of dried thyme
    • salt and pepper
  • To glaze
    • 1 beaten egg
    • 2 tbsp of milk
Method
  1. First of all start off by making the pastry. In a large mixing bowl sift the flour and salt. Cut the fat into chunks and add to the flour. With a knife or pastry blender, cut the fat into smaller pieces to mix with the flour at the same time. Rub the small pieces of fat into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of water at a time onto the flour and begin to gather the mixture together with the knife and finally with your hands until a soft ball of dough has formed. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to a temperature of 400°F/200°C.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat 1 oz (30 g) of the butter, add the onion, parsnip and carrots and fry gently until the vegetables have softened. Remove the vegetables and set aside.
  4. Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator and allow to warm up to room temperature.
  5. In the same saucepan, melt the remainder of the butter, add the 3 tbsp of flour and stir constantly. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the chicken stock, sherry and the white wine.
  6. Stir the liquids into the flour and butter mixture continuously and bring to the boil. A thick sauce will form. Once the sauce begins to bubble, boil for 1 minute further, stirring constantly.
  7. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken pieces, peas, thyme and parsley and mix well. Carefully stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the carrots, onion and parsnip.
  9. Roll out the pastry using the inverted pie dish as a guide.
  10. Transfer the sauce mixture to a 3½ pint pie dish, spreading the mixture evenly over the base of the dish.
  11. Cover the pie dish with the pastry and cut two slits in the top of the pastry lid to allow the steam to escape.
  12. Seal the rim of the pastry to the dish by pressing the back of a fork down onto the pastry all the way around the edge. This will also make a nice decorative pattern.
  13. With the remaining pastry cut out several shapes using a sharp knife and position them on top of the pastry cover.
  14. Lightly beat the egg together with the milk and brush the mixture over the pastry cover.
  15. Place the pie dish into the preheated oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown in colour.
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Chicken and Leek Pie

Ingredients
  • Shortcrust pastry
    • made with 6 oz (170 g) of plain flour, 3 oz (85 g) of butter, 1 -2 tbsp of iced water and a pinch of salt
  • For the filling
    • 1 small chicken (preferably organic)
    • 4 oz (115 g) of cooked ham
    • 6 leeks
    • 1 onion
    • 1 stalk of chopped celery
    • 2 tbsp of freshly chopped parsley
    • bouquet of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, bay leaf)
    • salt and pepper
Method
  1. Place the whole chicken into a large pot for making soup. Add the whole onion, celery, herbs and salt and pepper.
  2. Cover the chicken with water and cook on a medium heat until the chicken is cooked and the liquid has reduced to form a rich stock. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Save the chicken stock for later.
  3. Skin the chicken, remove the breasts, legs and wings and cut the chicken meat into small pieces. Set aside.
  4. Cut the cooked ham into small pieces also.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
  6. Chop the leeks into round slices and steam or boil for a few minutes until tender.
  7. Place the chicken pieces, ham and leeks into the bottom of a pie dish, sprinkle with the fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove the layer of fat from the chicken stock with a spoon and pour some of the stock over the chicken, ham and leeks, until it just reaches the top of the filling.
  9. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cover the pie dish with the pastry.
  10. Brush the top of the pastry with a little beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes. After this time, reduce the heat to 350°F/180°C and bake for a further 15 - 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and serve hot.



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