You can do most of the work the day before for this pie if you wish, then simply reheat the filling, top it with pastry and bake it. Buy a ready-cooked rotisserie chicken to save time.
Serves 6 individual pies or 1 large one to serve 6 people
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 celery sticks, chopped finely
Salt and Pepper
1 packet puff or shortcrust pastry, defrosted if frozen
5 chicken breasts cooked (or as much chicken as you can get from a cooked chicken (without skin)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 cups chicken stock, preferably home-made
1½ cups milk
2 sprigs of thyme, chopped finely or ½ tsp dried thyme
2 sprigs parsley, chopped finely
1 cup peas
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Fry over a low heat for about 5-10 minutes or until soft and lightly coloured. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, strip the meat off the cooked chicken and shred it into a bowl. Add the cooked vegetables.
3. Wipe out the saucepan and add the butter. Heat over a medium heat and when it is melted and sizzling, add the flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon, nudging the spoon into the edges of the saucepan to stop it catching. Cook for about a minute. Add the chicken stock, little by little, waiting until the first lot is absorbed before adding the next ladle as this will stop it becoming lumpy. Add the milk, little by little, stopping only when the sauce is thick and creamy. Don’t worry if you don’t use all the milk (equally, use more milk if you need to). You are aiming for a white sauce that is thick enough to hold the chicken in the pie. Keep in mind that the sauce will firm up even further when it is baking in the oven.
4. Add the thyme leaves or dried thyme and stir. Season to taste. Add the chicken, parsley and peas to the sauce. (You can leave this mixture to cool and use it later or the next day if you wish. It is also a good filler for vol-au-vents).
5. Assembling the pie: choose 6 individual oven-proof dishes or one large shallow baking dish. Oil the dishes or dish. Roll out the pastry, cut out six rounds to fit each individual dish including a one inch overlap. If you are making one large pie, do the same with an inch overlap but obviously roll out just one round of pastry.
6. Pour the chicken mixture into the baking dish(es). Lay the pastry over the pie filling and press the pastry around the edges. Use a sharp knife to make 3 or 4 cuts in the top of a larger pie or make one cut in a smaller pie.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for individual pies and 30-35 minutes for larger pies. You should see the chicken filling bubbling up and the pastry will be golden.
Chicken Pot Pie Tips
– If you make this one-crust chicken pie the day before, reheat the filling before you top with pastry and bake it. Otherwise the filling may not have time to heat through by the time the pastry is cooked. It gives you more comfort too.
– You can use either shortcrust or puff pastry or even phyllo pastry. For a Phyllo Chicken Pie, rush melted butter in between the phyllo sheets (you will need about 4 sheets) and crumple them on top of the filling.
– To cook the chicken, you can either roast the chicken in the oven or poach it in water or chicken stock first, then strip the meat off the bones. If you are using chicken breasts, poach them for about 9 minutes as you don’t want to dry them out when they will be cooked again in the oven.
– The white sauce can be a little bit on the loose side as it will be cooked further in the oven. However, it should not be runny.
– Feel free to vary the herbs: add fresh chopped basil or parsley to the chicken sauce at the end (fresh soft herbs like parsley or basil should be added at the end of cooking a sauce, otherwise you lose their flavour. Hardier herbs like thyme or dried herbs like oregano can be added earlier).
– To make Curried Chicken Pie, stir in a dessertspoon of curry paste to the white sauce and omit the thyme.
– You can also add fried bacon lardons or chopped up streaky bacon to the white sauce for a Chicken and Bacon Pie.
– To make this a Chicken with White Wine Pot Pie, replace some of the stock with a glass of white wine.