I’ve made no secret that I am slightly obsessed with pastry. Anything wrapped in buttery pastry is my death and in particular, chicken pie. By the way, you wouldn’t know I love pastry that much when you look at the disastrous pastry I made yesterday (I posted the pic on my Instagram). Never mind that, though. When I made this chicken pie last week, I knew I was onto something quite special when I tasted the filling. I wasn’t really paying too much attention, I actually didn’t even intend on blogging about this pie but when I tasted the filling, I knew it had to be shared.
I started by poaching two, perfectly plump free-range chickens in my biggest pot with lots of aromatics. This, is the key to this pie. Not only do you get juicy, succulent chicken which you can shred for the sauce, but you are also left with close to 2 litres of the most delicious homemade chicken stock (seriously, this is the most insane stock I’ve ever tasted). Some of the stock is also used to make a white sauce of sorts which will keep your filling lovely and moist.
For the pastry, I decided to make a flaky shortcrust for the bottom and sides and puff pastry for the top. This ensures that the pastry stays beautifully crisp at the bottom without going soggy but you get the lovely look and butteryness of the puff. This pie was rich and flavourful and although it takes quite a lot of work, I suggest you do this over a weekend when you’ll have time to do all the elements. Also, the pastry and filling can all be made up to 12 hours in advance and just assembled and baked before you’d like to serve this majestic pie. I served mine with buttered carrots but a salad with a sharp dressing will also work.
to cook the chicken
- 2 free-range chickens approximately 1.7-2kg each
- 2 onions quartered
- 1 head of garlic halved
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks plus leaves, roughly chopped
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- handful fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
for the pastry
- 150 g cold butter cubed
- 300 g flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 4-6 tablespoons ice water
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 2 carrots finely chopped
- 1 celery stick finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- chicken meat shredded, bones and fat discarded
- handful fresh parsley finely chopped
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
for the sauce
- 100 g butter
- 1 cup flour
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 100 ml cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 roll ready-made puff pastry
- 1 egg beaten
- To cook the chicken, place all the ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with cold water.
- Bring the water up to a boil and lower the heat. Cover and allow to cook for 90 minutes.
- When the chickens are cooked through, remove from the stock and set aside to cool before shredding the meat. Discard the bones and excess fat and skin.
- Strain the stock to remove all the aromatics then strain again through a muslin-lined sieve. Place the stock in the fridge to allow the fat to rise to the surface and solidify so you can skim it off. You will then be left with a beautiful stock.
- To make the pastry, combine the butter, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolks and with the motor running, pour in the ice water, spoon by spoon until the pastry comes together in a ball in the food processor (you might need more or less water, all you need is for the pastry to come together).
- Remove the pastry from the food processor and wrap in clingfilm. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, roll the pastry out and line the bottom and sides of an oven proof dish approximately 25-30cm in diameter (make sure you have a bit of pastry overhang at the top of the dish so you can crimp the shortcrust and the puff pastry together).
- Place the pastry-lined dish back into the fridge to set until you're ready to assemble the pie.
- To make the filling, saute the onion, carrot and celery in a splash of olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken meat, parsley, lemon zest and juice and set aside.
- To make the sauce for the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and mix into a roux.
- Slowly whisk in the stock until you have a smooth, rich looking sauce. Turn down the heat and allow to cook gently for 10 minutes.
- Add the cream and season to taste.
- Mix the sauce with the chicken filling and set aside.
- When you are ready to make the pie, pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
- Roll the puff pastry out a little thinner and cut into a shape suitable to top your pie. Reserve any off-cuts to cut out pretty shapes to decorate your pie for.
- Place the prepared chicken filling into the chilled shortcrust pastry-lined dish.
- Top with the puff pastry and crimp the edges.
- Decorate with puff pastry shapes then brush with the beaten egg.
- Place the pie in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.