1 hour


45 mins on the stove top, and 15 mins in the oven.


8 generous pies


Medium – some experience helps


Chunky Pie Filling;

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 400g white button mushrooms
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large sticks celery
  • 1 handful of the very middle of the celery; white baby celery and new leaves
  • 2 tsp dried Tarragon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 cup stock (make as you go)

Easy Flaky Pastry

  • 320 grams flour
  • 200 grams butter
  • 120 mls ice-cold water
  • 2 tbsp / 30mls apple cider vinegar


Get the pastry started;

Weigh the flour onto a bowl that you can fit in your freezer.

Grate the fridge-cold butter on top of the flour and try not to squash it. Pop the whole lot in the freezer.

Measure water and vinegar into a jug, refrigerate.

Prep the pie filling ingredients:

Slice each chicken breast lengthwise through the middle to make chicken steaks. Season well with salt and pepper and half the dried tarragon, set aside under cover for no more than 30 mins. Pop in the fridge if time is getting away from you.

Trim the stalks on the mushrooms level with the cap – you’re going to cook them whole. Keep the trimmings and dice them.

Trim and cut the onions, celery and fennel into batons. You want pieces about the size of the last joint of your little finger. Is this pedantic? Yes, certainly,  but for good reason. If your veges are too long or too fat or too small or overcooked the pie is not as good to eat. The baton size means you can fit a couple of veges on your fork with a chunk of chicken and a morsel of pastry, to deliver an immensely satisfying mouthful.

Finely dice the white celery and leaves, add to the diced mushroom stalks, along with the other tsp of dried tarragon.

Put all clean celery, onion, and fennel trimmings in a pot with a couple of cups of water, a few peppercorns and a bayleaf, and set to simmer.  You’ll use this stock to deglaze the mushrooms and to make gravy.

Pastry step 2;

Lightly mix the frozen grated butter with the flour with your hands, dispersing the flour evenly thorough the flour.

Rub no more than a 1/4 of the flour and butter together, briefly between the palms of your hands. You want 3/4 of the butter to remain just coated in flour, and 1/4 of it well-blended with the flour.

Using a large metal spoon, trickle in the cold water/vinegar while mixing well. Start with about 3/4 of the liquid, and only use the rest if you need it. You want a stiff-ish dough. Briefly knead to make sure there’s no dry or wet bits, shape into a flat rectangle, then cover and pop in the fridge.

Cook Pie filling:

Heat a large fry pan to medium hot with a light coating of olive oil.  Have a large casserole dish ready.

First, brown the pieces of chicken a few at a time. Put them in with a bit of clear space around each bit, press them down, then leave them to brown without moving them for a few minutes. Flip and repeat. You are NOT cooking them right through, just getting good colour. Pile them up in your casserole dish for easy access later.

When all are cooked, add a little more olive oil to the pan and put in all the mushrooms, stalk side down. Sprinkle them with the stalk/celery/seasoning mixture, season well with lots of salt and freshly ground pepper, add a spoonful or 2 of the stock, then turn the heat down to medium/low. Shake the pan gently from time to time as they cook.

While the mushrooms are cooking, dice the browned chicken pieces into generous bite-size chunks.

Turn the mushrooms over to brown on the other side. Once cooked, tip out to cool.

Add more olive oil to your pan, then the onions. Stir till fragrant and just starting to colour, add the celery, then the fennel.

As the veges are sautéing, cut the cooked mushrooms into quarters.

When the veges are all fragrant, but still crisp – add them to the dish and give it all a good mix. Put the butter in the pan, heat till bubbling, stir in the cornflour until well mixed and bubbling, then whisk in 1 cup of stock. Cook for a minute then tip in with the rest and mix well.

Put the dish over medium heat for 5 mins, just enough to cook off any remaining pinkness in the chicken.

Divide into 8 portions. Freeze in portion sizes, if you’re not baking all 8 pies. They’ll keep well covered the fridge for 2 or 3 days.

Finish Pastry;

Roll out chilled pastry into a larger rectangle, then fold it into 3. Turn and repeat twice. Now divide it into 4 portions, and freeze 3 portions. Cover and chill the last portion.

Complete pie;

Roll out the pastry big enough to cover 2 pie dishes. Cut it in half and save the rest airtight and chilled until you are ready to bake your next pie.

Dip your clean finger in the pie gravy and use that to wet the edge of your pie dish.

Trim your pastry to fit the top of the dish, and cut all the trimmings into strips. Stick the strips to the edge of the dish. Wet the strips with more gravy.

Cut remaining scraps into triangles and wet on both sides with a dab of gravy.

Stick the lid to the strips, then use your 2 index fingers make dimples around the edge of the pie. Cut the middle of each dimple with knife. This is called ‘knocking up’ and it makes your pastry puff at the edges.

Cut some steam holes in the top and arrange your scraps to please yourself.

Bake in air fryer or fan-bake oven at 200c for 15 minutes, until pastry is well browned.


Mushroom Pot Pie;

Replace chicken with 500g Shitake mushrooms, add 3 cloves minced garlic and 3 tablespoons chopped parsley to the other seasonings, cook whole and quarter once cooked.

Slice the button mushrooms into the same baton size as the other vegetables.

Chunky Beef Pot Pie;

Replace chicken with 500g rump or sirloin. Keep medium rare.  Trim fat and gristle off after browning and add to stock pot.

Replace  fennel bulb with 2 large carrots.

Replace dried Tarragon with Thyme.

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