Chicken pie is as good as it gets for comfort food – and it's incredibly easy to do. Here's how.
Jane Hornby’s latest book, Simple & Classic, is wonderfully easy to use. The words and descriptions are as simple and clean, as is the photography by Steve Joyce which shows step-by-step from assembling ingredients through to the processes needed to put together recipes.
We’ve already shared recipes for foolproof frittata and tarte au citron. This week, it’s the turn of chicken pie – we’ll continue to run more over the next week or two on the Country Life website, but the whole book – Simple & Classic: 123 step-by-step recipes by Jane Hornby (Phaidon, £29.95) – comes warmly recommended.
Recipe: Chicken, bacon and vegetable pie
‘Individual pot pies are easy to put together, without any fiddly pastry crimping,’ says Jane. ‘Serve with simply cooked vegetables or potatoes for an ideal family supper.’
Try and use chicken thighs if you can, explains Jane: ‘They’re better than breasts for a recipe like this because the meat stays moist, they have more flavour, and they are also better value.’ If you don’t have any but have chicken breasts instead, cut them into chunks.
If you make home-made or fresh pastry instead of frozen you can freeze the pies, unbaked, for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the fridge before baking.
Ingredients (makes six individual pies or one large pie)
- 12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 kg)
- 8 rashers dry-cured smoked streaky bacon
- 1 tbsp mild olive oil
- 2 onions
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 medium leeks
- Several fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 tbsp butter
- 200g button mushrooms
- 2 tbsp plain, plus extra for rolling
- 400 ml chicken stock
- 200 ml crème fraîche or double cream
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 sheet of ready made/ready-to-roll pastry (if you don’t want to make your own)
- 1 medium egg
- salt and pepper
- Cut the chicken thighs and bacon into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat a large skillet, frying pan, or shallow, heatproof casserole over medium heat and add the oil. After 30 seconds, add half of the chicken and bacon and season with salt and pepper. Fry for 8–10 minutes, stirring often, until golden all over. Scoop onto a plate using a slotted spoon. Repeat with the second batch.
- While the chicken cooks, finely slice the onions, celery, and leeks. Once both batches of chicken are cooked and set aside, add the vegetables to the pan, then cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until soft.
- Pick the thyme leaves from their stems (stalks). Turn the heat back up a little, then add the butter, mushrooms. and thyme. Fry, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until the mushrooms and vegetables take on a golden tinge. Return the chicken to the pan.
- Take the pan off the heat, then stir in the flour. Add the broth (stock) gradually to make a smooth sauce around the chicken and vegetables. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is tender.
- Stir the crème fraîche or cream and mustard into the pie filling.
- Taste the sauce for seasoning before you add any salt (the bacon will have added plenty). Season with pepper. Spoon the chicken pie filling into 6 individual pie dishes, leaving at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) at the top so that the filling can bubble without escaping. Let cool.
- Flour the work surface a little, then roll the pastry to a square about 18 × 18 inches (45 × 45 cm). Cut 6 rectangles of pastry, each a little wider than the tops of the pie dishes. Use a fork to beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water to make a glaze. Dampen the rim of each dish with a little of the glaze. Press the pastry over the top.
- Lightly brush the glaze over the pastry. Make a few small slashes in the top of each pie with a small sharp knife. The pies can be chilled for up to 2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/ Gas Mark 6. Put the pies on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling up in the middle. Pies cooked straight from the refrigerator will take a few minutes longer to cook. If you’re making a large pie, put the filling into a large dish and cover with the pastry. Slash the top, then bake for 30 minutes, until risen and golden.
This delicious recipe ideal for an indulgent weekend brunch comes from Jane Hornby's latest cookery book.
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