cheat’s chicken pie

This is totally a cheat’s chicken pie because I used left-over chicken – in this case already roasted and shredded. Alternatively you can buy chicken breasts and poach them, or the whole chook and boil it in a big pot, covered in water with bay leaves, cloves, onion and a carrot for flavouring. After boiling for 45 minutes, strain (reserving stock) and remove chicken and chill until ready to use. Reduce stock by gently boiling for about half an hour, chill then skim off and discard top layer of fat for your own delicious home-made chicken stock…but then again you could just buy the shredded chicken, I s’pose it depends how busy you are, either way it tastes delicious!

50g butter
1 white onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 medium leeks, outer layers removed, chopped
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp salt & a good grinding black pepper
1 tbsp chopped thyme (lemon thyme if you have it)
pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup chicken stock
 4 tbsp plain flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup whole milk
 600g cooked, shredded left-over chicken
500g flaky or puff pastry
Can of light olive or Rice Bran oil (or regular oil and a pastry brush)

1 egg, lightly whisked

Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Heat butter in a large heavy based pan and add onion, carrot, celery, leeks, bay leaves, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes until softened. Add thyme, ground cloves and 1/2 cup chicken stock. Cover and cook 10 minutes over a medium heat, remove the lid and cook a further 10 minutes. Lower heat to gentle and add flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon, adding 1/2 cup more chicken stock and milk. Cook a last 5 minutes over a medium heat, or until thickened. Cool and add chicken. Store in the fridge while spraying a 20 x 28cm (or equivalent) pie dish with light olive or rice bran oil and lining it with pastry. Spoon pie filling into the pastry shell, then cover with a pastry ‘lid’ – as you do, ensure the lid is a little larger than necessary, then squash the edges together with your thumb before trimming. Make a couple of holes in the top for steam to escape, decorate as you wish with pastry cut outs and brush with egg. Pop in the fridge for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Cook for 1 hour until the pastry is golden and flaky.
Serves 4-6


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