Guest chef

Felicity Cloake

The recipes in The A-Z Of Eating are all themed around Felicity Cloake's favourite ingredients (A is for Almond, B is for Blue Cheese, C is for Caramel and so on). Each chapter opener contains a fascinating introduction to the ingredient, blending history, food science, and much more.

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Chicken, Madeira and chestnut pie

  • Serves 6
  • Prep 40 mins
  • Total time 2 hrs 10 mins
0.0/5 rating (0 votes)
Chicken, Madeira and chestnut pie
Chicken, Madeira and chestnut pie

step by step

  • 1Put the chicken, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns and a pinch of salt into a wide saucepan and just cover with 1 litre cold water. Bring to the boil, then skim the surface, turn down the heat and simmer very gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until cooked through. Lift out the thighs and set aside to cool, then bring the liquid back to the boil and reduce to about 500ml (this will take about 15 minutes). Strain out the vegetables and discard. Set aside the cooking liquid. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
  • 2Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the bacon. Fry until the lardons begin to release their fat, then add the shallots and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chestnuts and fresh or dried thyme, turn up the heat slightly and fry for a further couple of minutes. Pour in the Madeira, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly reduced.
  • Nothing says comfort quite like this...
  • 3Mix 2 tablespoons of the chicken cooking liquid to a paste with the cornflour and then stir this into the cream. Whisk the cream mixture into the pan along with 250ml of the stock, then simmer gently until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the chicken. Tip the mixture into a 2-2.5 litre greased pie dish then leave to cool for at least 40 minutes. The remaining cooking liquid can be frozen.
  • 4Once the filling is cold, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until about 5mm thick, then wet the rim of the pie dish and place the pastry on top, pressing down around the edge to seal. Score with a knife in a criss-cross pattern. Brush with egg, scatter with thyme leaves and grind over some black pepper. Cut a small hole in the pastry for the steam to escape.
  • 5To bake straight away, preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden and the filling is piping hot. Delicious with steamed greens.
  • Use the leftover puff pastry for cheese and Marmite twists. Roll out to 5mm thick, spread thinly with Marmite then scatter with grated cheddar and press in. Cut into 1cm strips then twist each one and bake them on a lined tray at 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6 for about 15 mins until crisp. Serve with drinks.
  • Recipe photograph by Dan Jones

Get ahead

Assemble the pie up to the end of step 4. Cover with lightly greased foil (wrapping well if freezing) then chill for up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to 2 months. If chilled, simply bake according to the recipe, adding an extra 10-15 minutes' cooking time. To bake from frozen, cook covered in a preheated oven (160°C, fan 140°C, gas 3) for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and completely heated through.

You will need

  • 12 boneless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 25g butter
  • 1 x 160g pack smoked bacon lardons
  • 4 echalion shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 x 180g pack cooked chestnuts, halved
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, or about ½ tsp dried thyme, plus extra for the pastry topping
  • 100ml Madeira
  • 1½ tbsp cornflour
  • 1 x 150ml carton single cream
  • 300g all-butter puff pastry, from a 500g pack
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten with a little water, to glaze

+ Nutritional Information