Skye in the Pie

Chicken Pie

From Michelin star chef Skye Gyngell’s inspiring book ‘How I Cook’ which reveals the secrets of Skye’s home cooking comes our first Skye recipe.

Chicken Pie - a “deeply satisfying” supper dish, Skye likes to serve simply with a mound of buttered wilted spinach, it will she promises “warm you right to your core”.

The pie will also reheat successfully ina warm oven if you have any left over.

Serves 6

Shortcrust Pastry

500g plain white flour, plus extra to dust
Generous pinch of sea salt
250g of unsalted butter, well chilled, cut into little cubes
1 organic free-range large egg yolk
2 – 3tbsp cool water
1 organic free-range egg, lightly beaten, to glaze


1 organic free-range chicken, about 1.5kg
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
10 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
Small bunch of thyme
Small bunch of parsley
2tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp plain flour
150ml crème fraiche
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bunch of flat-leaf parsley, stalks removed, roughly chopped

To make the pastry sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter lightly and evenly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Lightly beat the egg yolk with the water, then sprinkle over the flour.  Work gently with your fingertips to form a dough, adding a little more water if necessary.  Form into a ball and knead lightly on a floured surface.  Wrap in baking parchment and rest in the fridge for an hour, or until needed.

For the filling wash and pat dry the chicken, removing any giblets and/or fat deposits from inside the cavity.  Place the chicken in a cooking pot, large enough to hold it comfortably and add the celery, a third of the carrots, the peppercorns and herbs.  Pour on enough water to cover the chicken and place over a medium heat.  Bring to the boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer and poach for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and leave the chicken to cool in its liquor.

Simmer the rest of the carrots in a pan  of salted water until just tender, about 7 – 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

Once the chicken is completely cooled, lift it out onto a board. Strain the liquor and reserve 500 ml for the pie (keep the rest to use as stock). Tear the chicken into generous pieces, discarding the skin.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook, stirring over a very low heat for a minute or so without colouring.  Slowly stir in the reserved liquor and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.  Add the crème fraiche, season generously and take off the heat.  If the sauce is at all lumpy, pass through a sieve.  Stir through the chopped parsley and leave to cool.

Divide the pastry in two, making one portion slightly bigger than the other.  Re-wrap the smaller one (for the lid) and return to the fridge.

Roll out the other portion on a floured surface to a round, large enough to line a 20cm fluted pie tin, about 3cm deep; the round will need to be at least 28cm in diameter.  Lift the pastry into the tin, press it evenly onto the base and sides, thn trim the edge.  Prick the base lightly with a fork.  Chill for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Line the pastry case with a piece of baking parchment and half fill will baking beans (or dried beans).  Bake the patry case on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes to slightly dry out the base.  Set aside to cool a little.

In the meantime, roll out the other piece of pastry thinly to a round, 5mm thick, for the pie lid.

Spoon the chicken mixture into the pastry case, then using a rolling pin, lift the pastry round over the top to cover.  Press the pastry edges together with your fingertips to seal and mark a cross in the centre of the pie.  Brush the pie generously with beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Leave the pie to stand on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving with buttered spinach.

Skye Gyngell