Sunday, 18 October 2009

Recipe: Chicken, cream and tarragon pie

Chicken and Tarragon pie
Recipe by Joanna Weinberg in the Times
Pictures and comments by me

This was my first ever pie and I was really happy with it. I served it with roast potatoes and cavolo nero. I am aware there has been a lot of chicken recipes of late, I will get some slightly more adventurous recipes up soon.

This is a good one though, and making your own pastry is fun (although I did have a very large tantrum when I thought the pastry was too moist and wouldn't roll, my beloved had to take a lot of abuse for advising me against overflouring!)


Serves 4

For the filling:
6 mixed chicken portions or 1 chicken, jointed
2 bay leaves
1 onion, quartered
1 onion, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh tarragon
4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
1 leek, sliced into fine discs, woody head reserved a few whole peppercorns
500ml fresh chicken stock
500ml milk
200ml double cream
2oz butter
2oz flour
a capful of dry Vermouth
sea salt and pepper For the crust:
240 g white flour, preferably Italian 00,
170g cold butter
pinch of salt
iced water with a squeeze of lemon
1 egg, beaten, to glaze


Make the pastry by grating the cold butter into a bowl with the flour and salt. Rub through your fingers to combine. Add the iced water and lemon juice tablespoon by tablespoon until it comes together. Knead with floured hands and divide into two balls, one twice the size of the other. Wrap both in clingfilm and leave in fridge for half an hour.

Some people say there is no need to make your own pastry as shop bought stuff it so good now, and I did buy some ready made just in case. I wanted to try making my own though and it turned out great although I did have to use a LOT of flour to roll it and to stop it sticking to the surface as I rolled it.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. In a large saucepan, simmer the milk with the bay leaves, sprigs of tarragon, quartered onion, leek top and peppercorns for 15 min, then add the chicken and poach gently for 20-25 min. Set the chicken aside to cool, reserve the liquid, and discard the rest of the solids.

Bring the chicken stock to the boil, add the chopped onion and leek discs for a minute and then remove to the pie dish with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid in the pan and boiling to reduce by half.

When the chicken is cool, remove skin and bones, and shred into bite-sized chunks with a fork, adding them to the pie dish. In a separate saucepan, make a roux with the butter and flour, using 100ml of the reduced stock and the poaching milk until it has the consistency of double cream. Combine in the dish with the chicken, onion, leeks and two thirds of the chopped tarragon, and season. Set aside to cool.

Roll out both pastry balls into discs 5mm thick. Line the pie dish with the large disc, brushing the edges with the beaten egg. Fill with the chicken mixture. Cover the pie with the remaining pastry, sealing the join with the tines of a fork dipped in cold water. Cut a cross in the centre to release steam, using a blackbird to hold up the pastry if the dish is deep. Glaze with the beaten egg and bake for 15 min before turning the oven down to 180C/Gas 4 and baking for another hour.

I also added a splash of white wine and some cream in the sauce here too. I think a bit of mustard would have been good also, and maybe some peas.

For extra gravy: Just before you eat, reheat the remaining reduced stock, adding the Vermouth, and boil off the alcohol. Reduce to a simmer, stirring in the cream and the rest of the chopped tarragon. Season well and decant to a jug.

I didn't use vermouth and added wine to the extra gravy instead.


  1. Looks amazing! Very jealous of your industriousness (that is surely spelt incorrectly). Posted at 6.57!!! Was is the builders keeping you awake again?

  2. I like that you think I'm industrious, but it was not posted at 6.57 (thank goodness).
    For some reason the time on my blog is incorrect and makes no sense. I posted this at about 2pm yesterday.

    Loving your regular posting x


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