You’ve been cooking chicken pie all wrong! Michelin-starred Lake District chef reveals his top tips for making the classic dish (and why it should ALWAYS have a base)
Award-winning chef Paul Leonard reveals his top tips for cooking a classic chicken pie – the ultimate comfort food (stock photo)
Where do most people go wrong with their cooking? Apparently, it’s when they overcomplicate a dish.
That’s according to award-winning chef Paul Leonard, who runs the Michelin-starred Forest Side restaurant in the Lake District, Cumbria.
Speaking to MailOnline Travel, the Hull-born chef explains: ‘I’m a big believer in cooking is cooking. You can’t reinvent the wheel with it. I think you’ll find some of the best meals that you have are the simplest.’
With that said, he then reveals a simple way of baking a classic chicken pie – the ultimate comfort food.
Leonard, who has been at the helm of the Forest Side since 2019, says that when he’s making the dish at home, he roasts a whole chicken and then picks all of the meat from the bird once it’s out of the oven.
Leonard runs the Michelin-starred Forest Side restaurant in the Lake District
He notes: ‘The whole chicken is probably cheaper than buying parts of a chicken.’
Price isn’t the only reason why Leonard prefers to work with a whole chicken – it makes the pie much more flavourful, too.
He says: ‘You’ve got so many little tasty bits – you’ve got the little oyster bits [dark meat near the thigh], you’ve got the legs – which bring different flavours. Then you’ve got all the juice coming from the chicken… which makes a banging sauce.’
Once the meat has been prepared, the chef – who previously worked under MasterChef: The Professionals judge Marcus Wareing – recommends taking the juices from the chicken and boiling them to make a stock.
Next, he moves on to making a roux [a mixture of fat and flour to thicken sauces]. For this, Leonard mixes his homemade chicken stock with a ‘touch of cream, some mustard, and loads of fresh herbs’. Wild garlic can also be added.
Leonard says: ‘I think you’ll find some of the best meals that you have are the simplest.’ Pictured is the interior of the Forest Side restaurant
Next, he folds his roasted chicken pieces back through the sauce.
A key factor of the recipe lies in placing pie crust at the bottom of the baking dish. A proper chicken pie must have a base, Leonard reveals.
He says: ‘A pie has got to have a bottom, [it’s] not one of those little pies where you [only] get a crust on the top. It’s a proper encased pie.’
Summing up the recipe, he says: ‘It’s just super simple.’
Coming soon – a full review of the Forest Side.