Chicken Pot Pie

9:00 am on 12 July 2019

From The Recipe by Josh Emett.



  • 1 large (3 1/3 to 4½ lb/1½ to 2 kg) free-range chicken
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into ¾-in (2-cm) pieces
  • 1 leek, cut into ¾-in (2-cm) pieces
  • 1 large peeled carrot, cut into ¾-in (2-cm) pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and squashed with the side of a heavy knife blade
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 punnet (9 oz/250 g) button (Paris) mushrooms
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 button onions
  • 5¼ tbsp (75 g) butter, plus 2 knobs
  • 2/3 cup (75 g) all-purpose/plain flour
  • 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp (50 ml) heavy/double cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • 18 oz (500 g) all-butter puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • egg yolk to glaze (3 or 4 egg yolks)


Start the day before the pie is to be eaten. Put the whole chicken in a roomy stockpot or pan together with the onion, celery, leek, carrot, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming the surface frequently, and as soon as the water comes to the boil, turn the heat down to the merest simmer and poach the chicken very gently for 30 minutes or until the legs are just cooked. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken to cool in the broth.

After a couple of hours or so, lift out the chicken and set aside. Pass the stock through a fine sieve into a clean pan, discarding the solids. Bring back to the boil, ensuring that you skim well as the broth comes to the boil, as fat will rise to the top and this must be removed. Boil gently to reduce by about three-quarters - you should end up with about 3 1/8 to 4 cups (750 ml to 1 litre) of really well-flavoured chicken stock. Pass again through the fine sieve and set aside.

Remove all the chicken meat from the bone. Try to take the breast and leg meat cleanly and avoid shredding it. Make sure that all the delicious meat from the underside of the chicken is also taken. The carcass should be ‘clean’ when finished and can be discarded with the skin. Cover and refrigerate the stock and cooked chicken. The following day, shallow-fry the button onions in a generous knob of butter, with seasoning. Cook very gently until slightly softened, 10 minutes or so; no colour is needed. Set aside, then cook the button mushrooms the same way.

Make a velouté sauce using a roux and 3 1/8 cups (750 ml) of the chicken stock. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes until the flour mixture changes colour, then pour in the stock in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Cook, while whisking, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the double cream and season well with salt, pepper, and a little grated nutmeg if liked. The sauce should be slightly thicker than heavy/double cream. You can always whisk in a little additional roux to thicken it slightly, or add a little milk or stock to thin it.

A teaspoon of Dijon mustard (no more) and a squeeze of lemon juice would also be nice. If the sauce has been correctly made, it will not need passing, but if not completely smooth then pass through a fine sieve. Keep the sauce warm, as it will not combine properly with the meat if cold.

Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of about 1/8 in (3 mm). Set the oven to 325°F (170°C).

Dice the cooked chicken into large (¾-in/2 cm, say) neat pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the sauce, the button onions and mushrooms, and the chopped parsley and tarragon. Combine the whole lot together and check the seasoning.

With a slotted spoon, fill a large pie dish with the mixture. Ideally, the mixture should come to within ½ in (1 cm) or so of the top of the dish. Add enough sauce to make the whole pleasantly ‘sloppy’ - it should be neither too thick nor too runny! You may not need all the sauce.

Cut the rolled-out pastry so that it is slightly bigger than the pie dish. Cover the pie with the pastry and crimp firmly around the edge. Brush any excess flour off with a pastry brush. Brush the lid with egg yolk and make half a dozen incisions with the point of a knife to enable steam to escape.

Bake the pie for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is nicely bronzed and the filling is completely heated through. Buttered peas, braised gem lettuce, and boiled potatoes would be nice with this. It must be served straight from the oven and piping hot.

Josh's notes

Preparation: Start a day in advance.

Key element: When removing the chicken from the carcass, keep the pieces similar in size to the onions and mushrooms.

Tip: Use plenty of herbs.

Complements: Buttered peas, braised gem lettuce, and boiled potatoes.


From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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