Let’s name the elephant in the room.
Is a pie even a pie if it doesn’t have a base?My creamy chicken pie doesn’t have a base – no worries about any soggy bottoms here – but before you start the whole it’s-a-stew-with-a-pastry-hat-on debacle, don’t bother.
No higher authority than Mary Berry herself on Britain’s Best Home Cook’s Pie Week in 2018 said, and I quote: “I love chicken pie with bacon in it…and I wouldn’t put pastry underneath, absolutely”.
The case for the defence rests. Let’s get on with the recipe.
Creamy Chicken and Pancetta PieCourse: LunchCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
A very rich luxuriant take on the chicken pie that anyone could make – it’s as easy as…pie!
500g chicken thighs
200g pancetta cubes (use less if you like)
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Bay leaves
1 bulb of fennel, trimmed and sliced
300 ml chicken or vegetable stock
100 ml white wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
150 ml double cream
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp oil (we used olive oil, but vegetable oil is just as good)
375g Puff Pastry (we used pre-rolled for ease – if you want to make your own, knock yourself out!)
1 egg, whisked just before use
- Take the skin off the chicken thighs
- Heat up the butter and oil on a decent sized pan on the hub – good to use a medium heat. Gently brown the chicken thighs all over. When each is lightly golden brown, remove from the pan and set them aside.
- Add the pancetta to the pan and cook for about four or five minutes – until they are beginning to turn golden brown **don’t let them burn – better to be slightly under than overdone. Remove from the pan and remove the excess oil with some kitchen roll.
- Turn the heat from medium to low and add your onions. After a minute, add the fennel and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes – just enough to soften the onions and fennel without burning the garlic. Brace yourself for a gorgeous aroma in your kitchen!
- Add wine into the pan. As it heats up, use a wooden spoon to dislodge any caramelised chicken that’s stuck to the pan.
- Return the chicken and the pancetta to the pan.
- Pour the stock and add the two bay leaves to the mix. Stir around and make sure the chicken thighs are coated in the liquid and perhaps have some of the pancetta cubes on top to infuse the flavour.
- Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 40 minutes so the chicken really softens up.
- After that time and the chicken is tender, remove the chicken from the pan. Careful – it may break up on the way out.
- Ease the chicken off the bones if you were using boned thighs – and start gently breaking it into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. It should separate easily.
- Turn the heat up in the pan bringing the wine/stock/pancetta/onions/garlic/fennel to the boil. Let it reduce til it’s a bit thicker. This is really intensifying the taste. Add the cream, stir it in and bring briefly to the boil.
- Add in the parsley and stir. This would be a good time to see if it needs seasoning. It probably tastes salty enough from the pancetta and stock but it probably could do with some black pepper.
- Add the chicken back in – mix all the pieces round in the sauce so it’s completely coated.
- Scoop out the contents and fill two pie dishes – it may taste delicious now but resist!
- Pre-heat your oven to 170°
- Roll your pastry out (about 5-10mm thick if you are rolling your own – it needs to be thick enough to hold its shape when cooking but not so thick it remains doughy after the cooking time) and cut two pastry lids for your pie dishes. Our pie dishes are oval. Top Tip – if you don’t have a spare dish, draw the outline of the top of your pie dish on an envelope and cut out the shape. When cutting the lid, cut a slightly larger shape than the lid – about 2cm bigger all round. Also, cut two long thin strips of pastry – these will be the seal of the lid of your pie.
- Brush the whisked egg around the lid of your pie dish and fit a long strip of pastry around the lid – don’t worry if your strip doesn’t fit all the way round. Just cut an extra piece so all of the the rim of the pie dish is covered with pastry.
- Brush the pastry rim with some egg then cover with your pastry lid. Important make sure the pastry forms a complete seal over the pie dish with no air able to get out. Lightly brush the top of your pie with egg.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – the pastry should be golden brown. Give it a little longer if it still looks pale or undercooked.
- Serve and enjoy!