Pies in New Zealand: Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Pies truly are a New Zealand classic. Maybe it’s because of the British influence and their Pork Pies, although colonisation of Ireland didn’t leave us with any such culinary heritage. As I mentioned the other day, pies are eaten by Kiwis on long road trips – the guarantee of a good pie will encourage people to take major detours – and they are apparently the traditional accompaniment to a rugby match. The national pie is bacon and egg and, every summer, magazines and newspapers compete to give the perfect recipe for this picnic standard. Apparently a good Bacon and Egg Pie is dependent on you not breaking the egg yokes as you add them to the sliced bacon in the pastry case. Hmm…another recipe to try out at some stage in the future!

When I was small I remember my mother regularly making a deliciously savoury Lamb’s Kidney Pie encased in shortcrust pastry. It was never steak and kidney, for some reason, not that I ever minded. For me the Kidney Pie, with bacon and sometimes mushrooms, was the height of culinary sophistication although, if I took a piece of it for lunch at school, I was bound to get someone going “urgh…kidney…disgusting!” I think I put them off their lunches more often than they managed to put me off mine.

But, back to my pie-fest for the Boyfriend’s birthday dinner, the Beef and Chorizo Pie was topped with a thick homemade scone-like pastry so I decided that the pastry for the Chicken and Mushroom Pie should just be plain (bought) puff pastry. I must admit to not being particularly precise about how the pastry fitted across the top of the pies as, for me, the nicest part of a pie is where the gravy bubbles up around the pastry.

A search online for Nigel Slater plus Chicken Pie brought up this recipe for Deep-dish Chicken Pie which I adjusted to my own needs. The filling is fabulous, much richer by being made from stock than it would have been from milk (although I couldn’t resist adding a little cream). Thickened a little, it would make a great filling for a Chicken Lasagne or you could use it as a pasta sauce or on top of rice or…

Chicken and Mushroom Pie
For the chicken:
Chicken thighs – 8, skinned and boned
Carrot – 1, chopped into rough chunks
Onion – 1, halved
Bay leaves, thyme and parsley stalks

For the rest of the filling:
Onions – 4, chopped
Olive oil – enough to cook the onions
Smoked streaky bacon – 200g, chopped
Mushrooms – 350g, quartered
Butter – 70g
Flour – 70g
Chicken stock – 2 litres, from simmering the chicken pieces
Cream – 100ml
Peas – 150g, fresh or frozen
Thyme – a few sprigs
Puff pastry – enough to top your ovenproof dish
A little beaten egg for glazing

Put the chicken pieces in a heavy-based pot with the carrot, the onion and the aromatics. Cover with just over two litres of water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the water has become a tasty stock.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy pan and cook the onions slowly until just starting to colour. Add the chopped bacon and mushrooms. Continue to cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes until everything is soft. Remove the chicken from the stock and chop into rough chunks. Add to the mixture.

Strain the stock and discard the vegetables and herbs. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour, cooking it over a moderate heat for one minute. Pour in the stock and cream and stir well, then simmer for 10 minutes or so until it thickens into a rich sauce. Add the onion and chicken mixture with the thyme and peas and season well. Pour into a deep oven dish and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the puff pastry and lay it on top of the pie. Brush with egg and cut two or three holes in the top to leave steam out. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed and the filling audibly simmering.

Adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater.

Serves 6.

Caroline

Caroline

Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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11 Responses

  1. paul says:

    Oh those NZ pies! I miss them, even the Georgie Pie fast food place had awesome pies. I hear those were bought and crushed by McDonalds.

  2. Caroline says:

    I had never heard about Georgie Pie but apparently you’re right. They even, pre-McDonalds takeover, had the same red and yellow colours in their logo. I can’t see that going down well with Mr Ronald McDonald! When did you come across Georgie Pie?

  3. Barbara says:

    Ah yes, Georgie Pie. My children practically grew up in Georgie Pie. There was one across the road from morning Play Group in Green Lane. Many a lunch time was spent there with the other mothers that didn’t rush home to put the kids down to nap.Paul – I haven’t forgotten the photo I promised to send of the tavern. Just haven’t been anywhere near it.

  4. Caroline says:

    I must ask the Boyfriend about Georgie Pie – it seems that there’s a bit of Kiwi nostalgia that I’m missing out on!

  5. paul says:

    Coming back way too late to answer the comment.I lived in Auckland during the Spring of 1987, and there was one in the neighborhood. They were good, but the home made ones in a little lunch cafe by the Grafton Bridge where I worked were much better. Even the ones with strange animal parts in them.

  6. Caroline says:

    I asked the Boyfriend and he remembers Georgie Pie very well from his college days. He doesn’t seem to be quite as taken with them as you were, Paul! He described their product as having lots of pastry, some gravy and very little meat, even that meat that comes from strange animal parts. There’s even a Georgie Pie song here

  7. Rachel says:

    OH MAN! GEORGIE PIE ROCKED THE PIE WORLD!haha i miss it, i was jus a wee toddler wen i entered the pie scene so of course i hav fond memories of dear old georgie pie…I say : BRING BACK THE $1 $2 $3 and $4 pie packs!!

  8. Caroline says:

    All you Georgie Pie nutters – it must be a cultural thing!

  9. Laura says:

    Just made this pie yesterday, its such a winning dish!! Its a shame there were no leftovers though. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Caroline Caroline says:

      Never too many leftovers with that one, Laura! Do you remember helping me that night for Scott’s birthday? It was a pietastic dinner!

      • Laura says:

        I do remember that! It was a moment of reminiscing that sent me on a mission to find this recipe. I’m about to make it again, perfect for these wintry nights in NZ. Aidan loves it too!!

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