500g rough puff, or filo pastry
400 g cooked chicken – chopped or shredded roughly
300g mushrooms – button are fine, but obviously more flavour is to be found in the black field mushrooms – or chestnut mushrooms
2 medium onions – fairly roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic – finely chopped, but not minced
small bunch flat leaf parsley – de-stalked and the leaves roughly chopped
small sprig fresh thyme – leaves taken off
few stalks of fresh tarragon – leaves taken off stalks and very roughly chopped
1 level tsp ground nutmeg
1 heaped tbsp flour
large knob of butter
150 ml chicken stock
150 ml dry white wine
150ml full cream milk
glug of olive oil
1/2 lemon or lime
1 lightly beaten egg
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
As I compiled the above list, I felt, frankly, a little bit of a dweeb – the reason for which is that really, quantities are largely superfluous, certainly where the main ingredients are concerned. Just use what you have left on the carcass (within reason – if you are unfortunate enough to have teenage children, you may find yours stripped bare and useful for nothing more than the stock pot). In my case, I had a nice plump breast and an equally fetching thigh salvaged from a large chicken and that, after de-boning, getting rid of any tendons and other gristly bits, happened to give me 400g. If it had been 250g or 500g, great, no problem – you could always add a bit more mushroom – or vice versa if you’re strong in chicken and weak in mushroom.
Likewise, if you haven’t any chicken stock, just use a bit extra wine and/ or milk – or even water. This ends up a very tasty dish almost whatever you do, so you probably don’t need to deploy the standby block of hydrolysed vegetable protein and salt, aka a stock cube.
1) If you’re making your own pastry – well done! If you are using shop-bought then fine but do check out our puff pastry recipe on this blog which is quick to make. Either way, roll it out around 2-3 mm thick and to give you enough area to line your pie tin which, with the quantities above, should be big enough to take around a litre of liquid. Butter and flour it before lining and do remember to cut a separate piece for the lid. If you wish to create “artistic” motifs, please feel free to do so if you have leftover pastry – we didn’t bother as Brenda’s attempt at a chicken shape looked more like a pig. It was a good self portrait though I have to say.
Switch on the oven to 200°C fan assisted
2) Make the sauce. Start off with a roux, in other words allowing a knob of butter to melt in a saucepan over a low to medium heat, then adding the flour and cooking it for 2-3 mins until it’s light golden brown and smelling toasty. Then whisk in your milk, wine and stock which should, after another few minutes, give you a smooth glossy and fairly thin sauce, about the consistency of double cream. Season with salt and pepper and the chopped parsley, bayleaf, tarragon and nutmeg (if using) – and finally a squeeze of lemon or lime. Set aside.
3) In fairly large frying pan, heat a glug of olive oil and another knob of butter and then add to the pan the onions, mushroom and garlic and thyme. When the mix has released its water and is starting to go from translucent to beginning to pick up some light, golden colour, tumble in the chicken pieces. Stir in thoroughly and fry for a couple of minutes more – you’re not really looking to add any more colour at this point, it’s really a combining and warming-through exercise.
4) Combine the two pans together (so, the sauce and the chicken/mush/ mix – it doesn’t matter which you add to the other) and pour into the lined pie dish. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and skilfully lay the pastry lid over the top. Crimp together by going round with a fork and finish with a brushing all over the lid with the egg wash. Don’t forget to make one or two steam holes.
5) Bake for around 30-35 minutes until the crust is a delightful golden brown and should be light and crisp. It makes enough for 4 people so Brenda and I enjoyed it two nights running, both times accompanied by creamy mash and, on evening 1, some runner beans from the garden and evening 2, some olive oil and chilli fried courgette rounds, also from the garden. A winner.