The sequel to the roast chicken meal, this is my first choice for comfort food. It can be made ahead, and even frozen, using leftovers – we always eat it at least once in the Lake District after a long day hiking because it’s great to be able to just throw in the oven, and in the time it takes to get out of all the rain soaked layers/ muddy boots and do a round of hot drinks, the pie is ready; puffed up and piping hot, just the thing to warm you up from the inside. Also, the Penrith chickens for sale at the local butcher are fantastic, princes amongst birds.
For similar reasons I’ve found it’s a useful meal to make to give to people, either for freezing or immediate eating. It also works well for families and children – I made it into hand pies once, using a slightly less liquid filling and shop bought pastry, and then used pastry trimmings to form their names on the pies. Shameless pandering.
This recipe follows on from the roast chicken one, using about one leftover chicken to serve 4-5, and the stock made from the raw and cooked bones. The meat should be removed from the bones and sliced against the grain in 1.5 cm thick pieces, then the carcass can be broken up and added to the stock pot and simmered for at least 30 mins. as for the crispy roasted skin…well, I feel like I can’t come out and say just eat it! cook’s treat! yummy! so I’ll just say that if you add it to the stock it adds a lovely flavour, but is you can think of another use for it then that’s cool.
(Alternatively, the leftovers from one large chicken for two can make a pie for two, or for a budget and time friendly version, 6-8 roasted chicken thighs can be used – just grind with salt and pepper and roast uncovered over chopped onions at 200C for 30-40 mins until juices run clear, and sub instant chicken stock in the recipe)
Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie
The pie filling is that rare recipe that is not a recipe, more just a habit, so please forgive the imprecise measurements and be assured that it can take lots of substitutions in the veg. For instance, if you have leftover peas or carrots from the roast dinner, by all means use those, although added right at the end. I don’t cook the veg separately here, so that they retain as much of their character as possible, but it will be fine with cooked. The other non standard part is replacing most of the milk (or even cream!) with stock for the sauce, swapping out fat for additional flavour.
Cooked leftover meat from 1 roast chicken
Chicken stock, a few ladlefuls…oh about 150 ml
Leftover onion gravy
2Tbsp plain flour
50 ml milk
2 large carrots
2 small leeks
100g chestnut mushrooms
100g frozen peas
1. Bring the stock to a simmer over a low heat or in the slow cooker
2. In a separate pan, heat the leftover onion gravy in a large saucepan
3. Clean the leeks thoroughly, cutting across the layers and peeling them apart under could running water or in a basin, then take off the green parts and add to the stock. Slice the white part into coins and add to the onion gravy, breaking them up a bit and stirring around. Add the butter to melt over the pile of leek shreds and gravy
4. Wash the carrots thoroughly so that the peelings can go into to stock, then dice and leave to one side. Wash the mushrooms and halve them, then cut into chubby slices.
5. Meanwhile, when the butter is melted and bubbling, add the flour to your fragrant pan of buttery alliums and stir in to make a paste; it should be smooth (except for the vegetables!) Cook over a medium great until the roux base is golden and nutty, so the raw flour taste has gone
6. Then add the milk, a small splash at a time at first, and stir in vigorously to avoid lumps. The texture should go from a stiff paste to a shiny, thick sauce. Then add the stock, stirring in after each ladleful, until the sauce is too liquid to chew but too thick to slurp, or to taste! Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.
7. Tip in the chopped carrots and mushrooms, the chicken and frozen peas, and stir to combine. If there is insufficient sauce, add more stock and mix in.
8. Pour the filling into an ovenproof dish and leave uncovered to cool. It can be covered and go into the fridge overnight at this point, and will solidify as it cools.
I like this recipe, originally from the New York Times, as it does make layers but does not require chilling and rolling. Shop bought all-butter pastry also works, rolled out to a thickness of about half a centimetre. I find that this uses about half a packet, and the rest can be used for a sticky golden tarte tatin made with firm apples or unremarkable pears, which turn into fragrant amber…but I digress. To avoid adding extra flour, I like to roll it out between two layers of cling film, which also makes it easier to lift and lay over the pie filling. Score the top lightly and crimp the edges with a fork, and decorate with pastry trimmings if that’s your thing.
Bake for 20 mins (longer from chilled/frozen) in san oven preheated to 190C until the pastry is lofty and burnished and the filing is bubbling hot. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes, baby spinach or just on its own.