Creativity is such a beautiful talent. I have to say I don’t think I’m massively gifted in that field, at least as far as cooking and baking are concerned. I’d rather stick to a recipe with ingredients already measured out and which has already been tried and tested. I think it probably has to do with the fact this way I’m not afraid things might not turn out just as in the picture, although I have soon learnt with baking that this is not always the case. Anyway, this time I decided to do everything from scratch and not to follow any recipe whatsover (apart from the one for the shortcrust pastry). And, I have to say, the result is quite impressive. Way to go, me!
The idea for this chicken pie comes from a recipe by Ina Garten, also known as Barefoot Contessa. This caterer-turned-TV-cook entertains plenty of Americans (and British alike) with a fast and easy take on cooking and baking. She is pretty much considered the US equivalent of Delia Smith, although clearly less posh. Her TV series is also set in her huge house in the Hamptons and regularly features some of her rich and food-ignorant friends, who just happen to be coming for dinner (I don’t know how she does it, honestly, I would freak out and chase people out of my house). She suggested roasting the chicken first for maximum flavour, and so I did. The quantities below make quite a lot, but then you could always freeze the leftovers. Therefore, here it is: my beautiful and proud chicken pie.
- 1kg chicken pieces (breast, thigh, drumsticks), skin and bone on OR a large whole chicken
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 250g peas (frozen are fine)
- 250g frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, etc.)
- 1.5l chicken stock
- half a bunch of parsley, chopped
- 150ml creme fraiche
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 300g shortcrust pastry (make your own!!)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Lay the chicken pieces skin side up on a roasting tin, rub some olive oil onto them and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for half an hour, then turn the pieces upside down and give it another 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.
- In the meantime, melt the butter in a big saucepan, then add the chopped onion. Fry for 5 minutes, until translucent.
- Add the flour and stir vigourously to incorporate any lumps, then pour in the chicken stock and keep on stirring to avoid lumps forming at the bottom of the pan. Add the vegetables and creme fraiche, then let it simmer over medium heat for half an hour.
- Using two forks, remove and discard the skins and the bones from the chicken pieces, then pull the meat apart and divide it into small pieces. Add the chicken to the saucepan and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the oregano, parsley and season well. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.
- Once cool, transfer the filling to a big pie dish. Roll out the shortcrust pastry to a rectangle/circle slightly bigger than the dish, then wet the edges and stick the sheet of pastry on top. Crimp all around the edges and use any leftover pastry to make decorations, etc.
- Chill for a good 30 minutes, then pre-heat the oven to 180C, brush the pie lid and the decorations with egg wash (and use the egg wash to stick the decorations to the top) and bake for 30 minutes.
As Ina Garten likes to say, “How easy is that?”