Simon Hopkinson’s Chicken Pie

A buttery chicken pie, perfect for a family dinner. Beneath the shortcrust pastry top, you'll find a creamy mix of chicken thighs, vegetables and white wine.

Introduction

  

Serves 4

Ingredients

700-750g chicken thighs, with bone
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
75ml white wine
1 chicken stock cube
1 bay leaf
25g butter
2 large leeks, trimmed of almost all green parts, thickly sliced, then washed
150g medium white mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Plenty of freshly ground white pepper
100ml double cream
For the pastry:
75g cold unsalted butter, cubed
75g cold lard, cubed, plus a little extra for greasing the tart tin
250g plain flour
A large pinch of salt
Iced water, to mix
1 egg, beaten and mixed with a little milk, to glaze

Essential kit

You will need a deep loose-bottomed tart tin approx. 20 X 4cm, and a food processor.

Instructions

To make the pastry, place the butter and lard in a bowl with the flour and salt or place all four in the bowl of a food processor. Gently rub the fat into the flour using fingertips until the texture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs or pulse to a breadcrumb-like texture then transfer to a clean bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoonfuls of the iced water and stir together with a knife. Once the mixture begins to come together, tip out on to a work surface and gently knead until well blended. Form into a thick disk and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, to rest and firm up.

Put the chicken thighs into a roomy pot and add the onion, carrot, celery, wine, stock cube and bay. Just cover with cold water and place over a moderate heat. Bring up to a simmer and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Cook very gently for about 40 minutes, continuing to skim if necessary

Lift out the thighs using a slotted spoon, while flicking off any clinging bits of vegetable, then put on to a plate to cool for a few minutes before removing the skin and discarding it. Now, strain the broth through a fine sieve into a large, clean saucepan and discard the debris. Allow the broth to settle for a few minutes, then remove any surface fat with kitchen paper. Place over a moderate heat again and reduce by about half its volume (more scum will be generated, so remove it as and when). Using your fingers, break up the chicken thigh meat into small pieces, throw away the bones and put the meat into a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Also, place a flat baking sheet on the middle shelf.

Rinse out the emptied broth pot and in it melt the butter. Add the leeks and mushrooms together and gently fry them until lightly coloured. Shake the flour over them and stir around for a few minutes until the flour has been cooked a little. Now, slowly add the reduced hot stock, stirring all the time, until it begins to thicken. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until smooth and the sauce is glossy looking. Check for salt (it should be seasoned enough from the stock cube) and stir in the parsley, plenty of pepper and, finally, the cream. Pour over the chicken meat and carefully mix together. Leave to cool completely.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and, laterally, cut a slice of about one third off the full size, which will be for the lid of the pie. Roll out the remaining two thirds to a thickness of about 3mm. Grease the tart tin and fit in the pastry base, allowing the edge to slightly stand proud from the rim. Generously prick the base of the pastry with a fork, then roll the remaining pastry to the same thickness.

Fill the pie with the cooled filling and then brush the edges with the egg/milk mixture. Lay over the lid. Press the pastry well down on the filling (this helps the pie to cook more evenly), then firmly press the overhanging pastry edges together. Take a small, sharp knife and trim off the excess pastry to achieve a neat finish. Brush the surface with more of the egg/milk wash and mark the pastry rim with the tines of a fork; if you wish you may also score the surface of the pastry with the back of a small knife to create a lattice effect. Make two small holes in the centre of the pie to allow steam to escape, then slide the pie on to the baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

Now, turn the temperature down to 180°C/gas mark 4 and continue cooking for a further 30-40 minutes or so. If the pie is browning too much towards the end of the cooking time, loosely cover with a sheet of foil. Once the pie is a perfect golden brown, allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving with the delicious carrots and peas.

 

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