Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Good Pint of Cider and Some Chicken Pie

Over the last few months I have found myself longing for Dorset. Having spent my formative years in a little town called Sherborne, surrounded by fields and forests, the city where I live now can seem practically barren at times. Brighton does of course have its share of open spaces, not forgetting the beach itself, but it’s just not the same. Earlier this year, I got all misty-eyed while watching Morris: A Life with Bells On, my heart aching for countryside and, more importantly, a good pint of cider.

There’s something utterly transporting about the taste of that fruity brew. The first sip always pulls me back to autumn mornings, looking over the River Purley, the mist curling down from the road as I walked our dog. And fresh lardy cake from Oxford’s Bakery… God, the taste of that would drive my brother crazy. He would eat an entire one to himself, every Saturday morning; I have no idea how he’s turned out so athletic. Oh, and cheese and apple. I have vivid memories of my Dad slicing an apple with his enormous hands (hot in any weather) and devouring it with slabs of local cheddar. And my Mum’s chicken pie. I haven’t had that in years, but I still recall the flakiness of the puff pastry as it mingled with the simple, thick sauce and the incredibly tender meat. I am drooling at the thought.

Cheers Mum:
4 free-range chicken breasts (don’t insult the dish with unhappy meat)
A couple of handfuls of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ red onion, roughly chopped
½ pint chicken stock (if you can make your own, here’s a great recipe)
Enough pastry to cover a 30cm pie dish (a deep one)
A sprig of fresh rosemary
A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Corn flour for thickening
A little olive oil
1 egg yolk

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a pie bird in the pie dish (this isn’t vital, but does prevent it from sagging or bubbling over the side). Cut the meat into bite size chunks, then coat in the corn flour. Brown the chicken quickly in a hot pan with the olive oil, then remove and place in the bottom of the pie dish. Using the same pan, brown the onion, then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further five minutes. Scoop the mixture into the pie dish over the chicken and pour on the stock. Add seasoning and herbs and stir. Brush a little of the egg yolk onto the pie dish lip and cover the whole thing with the pastry, cutting away any excess and making a hole for the pie bird. Put a little more yolk over the pastry to ensure a lovely colour. Pop it in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. Remove and devour.

Photo courtesy of Dan.


  1. This dish sounds comforting and delicious!

  2. I am also drooling at the thought! You cant beat homemade chicken pie with a pint of local cider!
    Oh how I miss England!!

  3. Your recipe sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Ah, I long for Dorset too! I lived there for a couple of years when I first started work (near Blandford Forum) and it's where I met my hubby. We often holiday there - we take the tent to the Isle of Purbeck.

    That pie sounds lush!