Chicken and Chestnut Pie

Served with braised red cabbage and maple roast parsnips, this is like Christmas dinner in pie form.

You can use cooked, cubed chicken pieces for this (great if you’ve got some leftover roast chicken lying around), or dice up some raw chicken thighs and let them braise in the sauce.

Choose relatively small chestnut mushrooms for this so you can leave them whole. Once cooked they end up about the size of the chestnuts, giving pleasing continuity throughout the pie.

Feeds 4

Ingredients

100g bacon lardons
1 large onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
250g chestnut mushrooms, left whole (or halved if larger)
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
250ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks (or just chunk up some cold leftover chicken)
180g whole chestnuts, peeled and cooked (I buy the tetra packets)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, to glaze

Method:

Place a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the lardons and a drizzle of olive oil and cook until crisp. Remove the crisped lardons to a plate and set aside. Add the chopped onion and celery to the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and chestnut mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, until the mushrooms have started to brown. Add the flour and stir to coat, cooking for a minute or two. Add the wine and let it cook away, then add the chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken pieces (if using raw – save cooked chicken pieces for later on). Let simmer for about ten minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the chicken has cooked through. Remove the bay leaf and add the whole chestnuts, chopped parsley, and reserved cooked lardons (and here’s where you add the cooked chicken pieces if using leftover meat). Give everything a stir, taste, and adjust the seasoning, then set aside to cool.

To assemble the pie, simply tip the filling into a medium-sized baking dish and smooth into an even layer, taking care to ensure the distribution of meat, chestnuts and chestnut mushrooms is fairly even. (We don’t want any Christmas arguments.)

Make ahead: Filling can be prepared up to 24hr in advance. Keep refrigerated until needed, then proceed with the next steps just before baking.

To bake the pie, preheat the oven to 425F / 220C / 200C Fan.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay over the pie filling. Trim off the excess and tuck the pastry in at the sides. Brush all over with beaten egg, then use a knife to lightly score diagonal lines all over the pastry, starting from one corner and working your way across diagonally. Cut two steam holes, then bake for about 40 minutes, or until the pastry is a lovely golden brown. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

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