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Roasting the Chickens:
Rinse the chickens under cold water and pat dry (you never know who’s been playing with your meat.) Rub all over with olive oil, salt, pepper and Thyme (including the inside of the bird). Place both birds in your baking dish and roast the chicken at 180˚C for 1 to 1½ hours until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when it is poked with a skewer. If the juice is pink – the chicken needs to cook for a while longer.
Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool down, then, de-bone both whole chickens, breaking up all the meat into small pieces and place in your pie dish. If you’re watching your diet, feed the skin to your dogs – if not, chop it up finely and add to the chicken pieces for extra flavour. Chuck all bones and leftover bits and bobs into your compost bin (or make chicken stock).
Making the Pie:
First up, re-hydrate the dried mushrooms. Do this by soaking mushrooms in warm to hot water for about an hour – do this at the same time that you chuck the chicken in the oven because the mushrooms need an hour to re-hydrate properly. Then, drain off excess liquid.
Pan fry the garlic, onions and chillies in a small knob of butter until the onions turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and pan fry on low heat until there’s no excess juice left (it takes a couple of minutes).
Make a Roux. Roux – Fancy word that basically means a sauce based on a thickening of flour and butter combined with milk or stock. Do this by melting 60 grams of butter in a pan. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat, add 4 level tablespoons of cornflour and stir into butter – it thickens up virtually immediately – so keep stirring for 1 or 2 minutes, then start adding the milk little by little, whisking it into the butter and flour mixture until you have a smooth mixture. Once you’ve added all the milk, flavour with salt and pepper and a sprig or two of thyme, and return the pan to the heat and simmer very gently for 10 minutes, stirring all the time. If the sauce goes lumpy (which it might on your first bash) strain it thru a fine sieve (or blend it).
Once the sauce is cooked, add the mushroom, garlic, onion, and chilli mixture, give it a good stir, then pour over your de-boned chicken pieces and mix well.
Next up: Spoon mixture into your pie dish, preferably one about 25cm longx17 cm wide x5cm deep. Wet the edge of your dish with a damp cloth. Cut thin strips of pastry and line the outside edge of your pie dish. This will give the pie a nice double layer. Place 2 onions on top the chicken mixture (this will help to stop the pastry from collapsing in on its self. Place a whole sheet of pastry over the dish. Press the edges down firmly and then trim off the excess. Using the back of a knife, give detail to the edge of your pie. Bake at 220C for 25 minutes until the pie is crispy and golden.
I serve the pie hot with a seasonal green salad made up of whatever seasonal greens are available – but always try to include avocado and slices of granny smith apples. You don’t need a dressing, just a squeeze or two of some fresh lemon juice gives it that extra kick and keeps the avo and apple from going brown.
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