Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Catch Your Chicken

Not long after the end of the Second World War when my parents moved to Hobart they set up a chicken farm, providing fresh chickens and eggs to the Hobart market.

Weird in a way, that I was fatally allergic to eggs and yet in my back yard there were 3000 chickens laying beautiful specimens every day.

Worse than that, my mother being a farm girl was a superb cook who made a lovely, light sponge cake that was to die for. Believe me I tried.

Come to think of it, my brother Tony who later, (long before restaurants in Hobart), as a chef at Wrest Point, glazed the finest chaud-froid chickens in the Larousse style, also tried to kill himself over the chooks. He badly cut his wrist on a glass water hopper while refilling it for the Orpingtons.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, chicken pie has always been a favorite of mine, but a very rustic version. I made one today to accompany a Sancerre that Roger and Sue from Terroir Wines are tempting us with and as the camera was handy I thought I would try a visual recipe. This pie is so simple that it lends itself to it.

So, after first catching your chook, in my case these days a Groenewold 13 or 14, deal with it as pictured above.

After about an hour and a half of the merest simmer let the chicken cool in its own stock while you make the pastry. Again simplicity is the key so don't expect chefy golden brown pastry on the finished product. Blitz 90g of frozen butter cubes in 135g of plain flour with a pinch of salt in a food processor until grainy. Then sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of water and pulse until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap the ball in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2o minutes.

While that's happening cut up your vegies and Bok's bacon and 3 hard boiled eggs. See below.

Next, make a white sauce from 3 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of plain flour and 2 cups of the chicken stock. Add 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce or HP Sauce and a handful of chopped parsley, salt and pepper. I'm using the pink Murray salt these days, I think everyone is.

Grease your deep pie dish, ( it's a lot of filling so choose a dish 6-8 cm deep) with butter and arrange your eggs, bacon, a handful of peas and your vegies along with the cooled chicken you have pulled apart. Pour over the sauce. I always use all the sauce because I love the pie liquid to spill over the sides. Be more careful and use a pie rest if you want presentation.

To this point you should look something like this.

Now, roll your pastry out and bang it on top. Egg wash and decorate til your heart's content and cut a vent slit and then you should look thus:

That in my opinion is the climax of the dish for prettiness. After that the sexy bit is in the eating. Anyway, that's what I like about it. It's a rustic dish and it's about eating it and about not too much fiddling about in getting there.

Whoops I've lost my rhythm. Back to the method. Pop the pie into a 200 Celsius oven for 20 to 25 minutes and Bob's your uncle. Open a Domaine Daniel Chotard Sancerre Cuvee Marcel Henri Blanc 2007, (imported by Terroir Wines) and tuck in. Mmm I think I feel one coming on now.


  1. Thanks Stephen, for the recipe and tips.

    I love chicken pie, and hadn't considered adding boiled eggs before. That sounds like a great idea and one that I will definitely try for that added dimension of another texture.

    One thing I stumbled upon, which I share wif youse now, is that one time I pan fried some garlic, onion, bacon in preparation for my chicken pie filling and added a liberal splash (ie about 1/3 of a bottle of champagne) to the fry up!

    I can recommend it!

  2. That sounds like a lot of fun GT. I'm thinking gorgonzola dolce as well and hold the black/brown sauce in my roux.
    Will test drive it.

  3. I love a good chicken pie, Stephen, and that looks delicious! Oh yes, Groenewold is the best free range chicken here, which I prefer this brand over Nichols.

  4. Nice pie Stephen BTW. Between you & Victor & the power of suggestion, we indeed ate chicken tonight, wait a minute, that sounds almost like a jingle!
    I prefer Groenewolds over Nicholls too but an organic farmer mate of mine has cast doubt over the term free range in which the Groenewolds chooks are labelled. Yes they might be as far as the RSPCA is concerned but that organization is notoriously free & easy with their selection criteria. I suspect that NAASA or TOP might not concur with the RSPCA on what actually constitues free range.
    Taking this a step further. There is some scratching of heads & questions as to the apparently large amounts of free range eggs on the Australian market. The trouble is, there dosn't seem to be enough registerd free range egg suppliers in the country to be supplying the amount of eggs bearing this on the label WTF?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.