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Chicken Pie with Bacon and Peas

Serves 8–10

My husband, Isaac, is an amazing cook, and this is one of his best weekend lunch dishes.

It is so good and children love it too.

Ingredients

  • For the filling:
    • 1 chicken, about 2.25kg (5lb)
    • 2 carrots, peeled and halved
    • 1 celery stick, halved
    • 1 onion, peeled and halved
    • Sprig of fresh thyme and fresh parsley
    • 1 litre (13/4 pints) water or light
    • Chicken stock
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 250ml (8fl oz) single cream
    • Roux (see page 215)
    • 450g (1lb) button mushrooms,
    • cut in half
    • 25g (1oz) butter
    • 400g (14oz) cooked ham, chopped
    • into 2cm (3/4in) cubes
    • 450g (1lb) peas
    • 6 eggs, hard boiled for 10 minutes, peeled and chopped roughly
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • For the topping:
    • 400g (14oz) puff or flaky pastry,
    • rolled to 5mm (1/4in) thick
    • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze
    • Or
    • 1.75kg (33/4lb) mashed potato

Method

  1. Remove any giblets from inside the chicken and discard. Place the whole chicken in a large saucepan or casserole pot; add the carrots, celery, onion, thyme and parsley and the water or light chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and simmer for about 11/4 hours (or pop into a moderate oven) until the chicken is cooked. You will know when it is cooked as the leg will feel quite loose when you pull it from the carcass and the juices run clear when pierced.
  2. If you have a pastry topping, preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F), Gas mark 8.
  3. For mashed potato, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4.
  4. Take the chicken out of the pot and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Remove the vegetables and herbs from the liquid in the pot and pour in the cream. Bring up to the boil, then whisk in some roux (about 2–3 tablespoons, but start with 1 tablespoon) until it has thickened slightly. The liquid must keep boiling while you add the roux in order to thicken.
  5. Heat the butter in a pan over a high heat and fry the mushrooms for 4 minutes or until soft.
  6. Remove the meat from the chicken carcass, chop roughly and place in a large pie dish (about 25 x 35cm (10 x 14in)), then add the chopped ham, peas (these can be straight from the freezer), chopped hard-boiled eggs, browned mushrooms and the chopped tarragon.  Season to taste.  If you are making this in advance, don’t add the topping until just before you’re ready to cook.
  7. For a puff or flaky pastry top: cut the pastry to the same size as the top of the pie dish and arrange on top, making a hole in the centre to allow steam to escape. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg to give it a nice glaze. Cook it in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas mark 5 and cook for another 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the mixture is bubbling hot.
  8. For a mashed potato top: arrange the mashed potato on top of the chicken mixture and lightly score the surface. Place in the oven and cook for 30–40 minutes or until golden brown on top and bubbling hot.