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Nobody can claim the original chicken pie recipe and nobody can say for sure what a ‘classic’ chicken pie may contain. But we think that when they first cooked chicken pie, it contained chicken and very little else … maybe a few common vegetables like onion and carrot. So, to what we believe is the 'classic' filling, we add mushrooms. And a packet of mushroom or chicken soup ... According to our families, it's to the good of both the chicken and the mushrooms!

Classic Chicken Pie


  • 1 free range chicken (about 1.4 kg)
  • plus 4 chicken breasts (on the bone)
  • 3 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 3 brown onions, skin on, quartered
  • 6 large stick celery, thickly sliced
  • 250 g large brown mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 8 large cloves of garlic, not peeled
  • 2 generous pinches of ground cloves
  • 5 ml ground nutmeg
  • 1.8 litres cold water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
  • 30 ml canola oil
  • 1 large bunch spring onions, sliced thinly (with the green tops)
  • 250 g white button mushrooms, grated
  • 1 x packet cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
  • 65 ml finely chopped parsley
  • seasoning: ground cloves, black pepper, chopped garlic
  • prepared Hearty Buttermilk Pastry

Chef's hint: This is really a very large pie, perfect for those happy extended-family feasts. For normal meals, you can halve the recipe or omit the extra chicken breasts for a smaller pie. And if you are using puff pastry, crimp the edges, make a few small slits in the top (for steam to escape) and brush with an egg wash made with an egg beaten with a little water. Bake in the oven preheated to 200º C for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.


Cut the chicken in portions and place in your largest saucepan. Add the chicken breasts as well as the carrots, onions, celery, brown mushrooms, bay leaves, garlic, cloves, nutmeg, water and stock cubes. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that may develop on the top, and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer gently for an hour or until the chicken is cooked. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool in the stock until you can handle the chicken by hand.

Strain, reserving the stock and the chicken. Discard or re-use the veggies as you deem fit. Pour the stock in a jug so that the fat rises to the top then remove as much of that fat as you can. Remove the bones and skin from the chicken and discard or re-use as you deem fit. Flake or cut the chicken meat into small pieces and set aside.

Heat the oil and add the spring onion, fry briefly then add the grated white button mushrooms. Sauté until they are cooked then add the reserved chicken stock. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly until it is reduced to a total of 800 ml. Mix the soup powder with a little water until smooth then whisk into the simmering reduced stock. Stir until thickened now add the chicken meat and parsley. Stir lightly with a fork to mix through (you do not want the meat to break into stringy parts) and remove from heat.

Now season to taste with salt (taste first, it may not need any), ground cloves, black pepper and chopped garlic. When you're happy with the taste, transfer to a deep, large oven-proof serving dish and set aside.

Spoon the pastry dough on top of your pie filling. Flatten the dough for a neat finish. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes in the oven preheated to 180º C or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

Serve with a simple tomato and lettuce salad.

Serves 6 – 8.