Chicken pot, chicken pot, chicken pot piiieee!

Pop culture question. Which mediocre now defunct American sitcom featured an episode with a chicken pot pie song? This particular episode has a bit of a cult following.

Flaky puff pastry lid

Flaky puff pastry lid

To be honest, this isn’t a chicken pot pie recipe. But place the filling into a bowl/ramekin and cover with puff pastry lid and it’d make a great pot pie.

When I was thinking about chicken pie, the jingle from that episode kept popping into my head. I once described it to a colleague and he wasn’t familiar with it so I sang it out loud. I don’t think either of us ever recovered from the deafening silence that followed. I was trying to drum up some enthusiasm so he’d make a cool TV promo for that show. It didn’t really work.

I love the combination of chicken and chestnuts and lately I’ve been eating a lot of kale. Kale is one of those dark, leafy vegetables that seem extra healthy. Part of the Brassica family, it doesn’t have any of the effects of its cabbage relatives. You can replace the kale with spinach but in this instance I think kale matches better with the other ingredients.

Chicken, chestnut and kale filling

Chicken, chestnut and kale filling

Wanting golden, puffy lids I bought the best butter puff pastry you can get in Australia – Careme. It’s handmade using quality ingredients so is quite expensive but I probably only splurge on it about once a year, if that. But I did make the shortcrust pastry base and I highly recommend this recipe. It turned out sturdy enough to hold the filling and once rested, was extremely easy to work with. It’ll be my go-to savoury pie crust from now on. It’s not very rich and remains tender rather than crisp but with the buttery puff on top, it balances nicely.

Why cook the chestnuts separately, you might ask? Chestnuts can vary in their cooking time so to make sure they’re meltingly soft, I cook them first. That way, I achieved the perfect chestnut texture in my pie.

Feeds: 6 people
Start cooking: 3 hours before eating

Chicken, chestnut and kale pie

Ingredients:

  • 700 grams x boneless chicken (breast or thigh, whatever your preference)
  • 300 grams x fresh chestnuts, prepped
  • 2 tablespoons x plain flour
  • 500ml x chicken stock
  • 4 x shallots, sliced
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • 12 x whole peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon x salt
  • Zest x one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon x creme fraiche (or sour cream)
  • 250 grams x kale
  • Vegetable oil
  • Shortcrust pastry (recipe follows if you wish to make your own)
  • Puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the chicken stock into a saucepan and add chestnuts. Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until just tender. Remove the chestnuts from the stock and set aside.
  2. Dice the chicken into 1cm cubes and toss in plain flour.
  3. Heat up a large heavy based saucepan over high heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and brown the chicken in two batches. Remove chicken and place on a plate.
  4. In the same pan, reduce to medium heat and cook the shallots, stirring to release the sticky bits (fond) on the bottom of the pan. When the shallots are softened, add the browned chicken, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the chestnuts and cook the filling for 5 more minutes, leaving the pan uncovered. Test the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Since the pastry isn’t highly seasoned, the mixture should be slightly more salty than if you were eating it alone. Take the mixture off the heat and remove the bay leaves.
  6. Stir in creme fraiche (or sour cream) and lemon zest and cool the filling to room temperature.
  7. Preheat your oven to 200 C/400 F.
  8. Pick the kale leaves off the stems and tear into bite size pieces. You should end up with about 150 grams of kale. Lightly wash the leaves and then cook in a hot frying pan for 2 minutes until just wilted.
  9. Line your pie tins with shortcrust pastry and then divide the kale and place in the bottom of the pies. Then spoon over the chicken and chestnut mixture.
  10. Cover the pies with puff pastry and press the shortcrust and puff pastry around the edges to firmly seal. Make a small slash on the top of each pie to allow steam to escape.
  11. Eggwash if desired and bake the pies for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Warm pie and mash. Perfect for a rainy, overcast Autumn day.

Warm pie and mash. Perfect for a rainy, overcast Autumn day.

Tender shortcrust pie base
Adapted from AllDownUnder

If you’re looking for a buttery pie pastry base, this isn’t it. But tender yet sturdy and a foil for a rich puffy top? Yes. It makes enough base pastry for 6 individual small pies or two family size pies.

Ingredients:

  • 300 grams x plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon x salt
  • 60 grams x butter
  • 130ml x water
  • 20ml x lemon juice

Method:

  1. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until the butter pieces are the size of a small pea.
  3. Combine water and lemon juice in a jug.
  4. Pour water-lemon liquid into the flour mixture slowly, stirring with a knife until just coming together. Knead for 3 minutes until smooth, adding a little flour if it seems sticky.
  5. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out the rested dough until 2mm thick and line pie tins. There is no need to blind bake, just fill pies immediately.
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