Sunday, 6 March 2011

Chicken, bacon and caper pie

I went out for martinis last night, to Popolos in Newcastle. We were celebrating the American's engagement; The Little Idiot, the Blonde, Boozer and Greggles were all in attendance and it was a very good night. We started with violet martinis, which taste of parma violets and are pretty much just vodka. They are dangerous, but delicious... We then moved on to apple martinis, which may explain feeling a bit fuzzy this morning. It's a good job we'd had a lovely big bowl of seafood pasta and warm bread at Greggles and the Blonde's before we started on the cocktails.

I am finding sustenance in left over chicken pie after having already had a walk to town, a look at the Sunday market on the Quayside and a wedding fayre at The Baltic this morning. I'm exhausted already but at least there was free cake...

The Little Idiot and I spent Friday evening making chicken pie. The recipe was from Beyond Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly. Their restaurant St. John is one of my favourite place to go when I'm down in London. The recipe is actually for Chicken and Ox Tongue pie, but ox tongue proved hard to get hold of after work on a Friday, so we adapted it to suit. I'll tell you the version we made.

Poach a whole chicken in a large pot with a chopped leek, a few cloves of garlic, a chopped onion and some peppercorns. Let it simmer for 45 minutes. Keep the stock for other things it's delicious. They often poach meat in this book and it makes for a delicious pie, the meat is really juicy and tasty compared to roasting it.

While the chicken is poaching slice 2 onions into chunky rounds and cook them in a knob of butter 'until totally submissive'. About half an hour we found. Then fry off 5 or so slices of streaky bacon after the onions in the same pan.

Remove the chicken from the bone and cut it all into pie-size chunks. Mingle the chicken, onions and bacon all together in your pie dish.

Now make the white sauce. Melt a knob of butter in a pan and add a handful of plain flour, stir for a few minutes. Don't let it colour but let it cook a little until it smells biscuity. Start to whisk in the whole milk. The recipe asks for 1.2 litres of whole milk but we didn't actually use that much. I'd say about 800/ 900ml. Whisk it in a little at a time as it thickens and add a little of the chicken stock towards the end. You're aiming for a silky creamy sauce.

Add a big handful of capers to the sauce, extra fine ones if you have them. Season the sauce and then pour it over the chicken, bacon and onions.

The recipe is for puff pastry, but I accidentally bought shortcrust, it didn't make any difference, it was still delicious. You can make your own if you want, but the shop bought ready rolled sheets are very good. Place it over the pie and brush it with a beaten egg for a lovely golden pastry crust. Cut a cross in the centre of the pastry for the pie bird to poke through. This is Peter, our pie bird, I've been wanting to introduce him for a while... If you don't have a pie bird just leave a cross in the middle to let the steam out.

Bake it in a hot oven, about 190°C for 30 to 40 minutes. It really feels like you've achieved something with your own pie. A labour of love. This one was delicious.

1 whole free range chicken
1 leek
3 onions
4 cloves of garlic
a few peppercorns
2 knobs of butter
a handful of plain flour
800/900ml whole milk
a big handful of capers
1 sheet of puff or shortcrust pastry
1 egg beaten
salt and pepper


  1. This was possibly one of the most delightful, sumptuous and comforting things ive ever had the pleasure of eating....

    Simply with some green beans...

    I attempted it...but my sauce split.

    Cant wait to try it again.

    Lots of love

  2. thank you! i'm making it for father's day on sunday, this time with leeks, a brilliant addition!

  3. Love the idea of this pie! Shall be making it for dinner this week :)

    Katie xo


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x