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Chicken & Vegetable Pie

Introduction & method

I started making this because the recipe I'd been recommended called it a 'pot' pie, and I've always wondered what makes a pot pie special. Turns out it's nothing at all - a pot pie can be double or single crusted, just like pies everywhere else. And there doesn't seem to be a 'pot' involved anywhere. The other thing about that recipe was it was designed for an Instant Pot (AKA pressure cooker) - again, this is nonsense - it's just the filling which is cooked under pressure for 4 minutes - by the time you add in building up the pressure and then getting rid of it, you could have made it the regular way on the stovetop. Those niggles aside, this is a gorgeous pie.

Chicken & Vegetable Pie Recipe

I made this pie in a steel dish, 22cm x 28 cm (about 8 x 11 inches) with sides about 40mm (just under a couple of inches) high. I prefer to use steel over glass or ceramic because it transmits the heat better. I used shop-bought puff pastry for the top, and made my own shortcrust for the base. 

Make the Filling

We'll make the filling first because it needs to cool completely before we can use it. Peel, slice and dice the onion. Brush any crud off the the mushrooms and halve or quarter them so they're not too big. Dice the carrots and the celery. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until it's soft - it's OK if it's a little bit browned. Add the mushrooms and cook them for a few minutes until they've given up all of their moisture. Add the stock, carrots, celery, bay leaves and pepper, and bring to the boil. Simmer with a lid on until the carrots are cooked, about 10 minutes, then stir in the thawed peas.

You can dice your chicken into smaller than bitesize chunks if you like. Or, for an unusual pie, slice the chicken breasts horizontally. You should get 3 large slabs out of each one. Lay the chicken slices on top of the veg, put the lid back on and let them poach in the steam until they've gone opaque - about 5-10 minutes. Take them out of the pan and finish off the sauce. First of all you'll want to thicken it - this is easily done by stirring in a slurry of equal parts flour and water (about 2-4 teaspoons of each). Cook it in for 2-3 minutes, then taste the sauce and add salt if needed. Finish off by stirring in 2 or 3 tablespoons of double cream. Place the sauce and the chicken pieces in another container and when it has stopped steaming, put it in the fridge to cool completely.

Make the Shortcrust Pastry 

Your butter and lard need to be quite cold for this to work. Cut the fats into small cubes. In a large bowl, mix the salt into the flour. With your fingertips, rub the fats into the flour until you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. Using a knife, stir in a bit of water at a time until you've incorporated enough to make the flour and fat stick together as a ball. Cover and place in the fridge to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Make the Lid

Sprinkle plenty of flour onto your worktop. I'm assuming you're using shop-bought pastry. You can just do a plain lid, or weave it into a lattice if you want to make a seriously impressive pie. I won't attempt to describe how to make the lattice - best if you watch the video below (the weaving starts at about 9 minutes in).

Assemble the Pie

Roll out the shortcrust pastry for the base. Dust the inside of the tin with flour. Roll the pastry up over the rolling pin, then unroll it over the tin. Use a spare bit of dough to press the pastry right down into the tin. Take half of the chicken slices and arrange them in a single layer on the pastry base. Spread the veggies and sauce all over, and finish off with a layer of the remaining chicken. Moisten the rim of the pastry base with water, then place the puff pastry lid on it. Press around the edges to make it stick to the base. Glaze the lid with eggwash (1 egg beaten with a small amount of milk). If you're using a plain lid rather than a lattice, cut a few judiciously artistic slashes in the pastry.

Bake the Pie

Heat your oven to 170°C (338°F) for a fan/convection oven, 190°C (374°F), gas 5. Place the pie in and bake for 40-50 minutes, turning it round halfway through to ensure even colouring.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Chicken & Vegetable Pie on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 200 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
 1 tsp salt
 50 grams lard
 50 grams unsalted butter
 3 skinless boneless chicken breasts
 2-3 tbsp double (heavy) cream
 1 litre chicken stock
 1 medium onion
 2 carrots
 2 sticks celery
 a handful of button mushrooms
 3 tbsp frozen peas
 2-4 tsp flour/water slurry
 half a tsp white pepper
 2 bay leaves

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 6 
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Cooling time: 30 minutes.
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes.
Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes.