If you are a single urban professional, like myself – there aren’t that many animals that are just the right size to buy a whole one and then use all of it. Cows and pigs are way too big, a rabbit is nice but not versatile – but a chicken is perfect.
A pie is a great way to use leftover Sunday Roast – but the techniques below form the base of any number of ‘leftover chicken’ recipes: a stew with dumplings, a risotto, noodle soup.
So begin by picking all the meat off the chicken carcass and set aside. Take any skin and all the bones and throw them in a pot with 3 litres of water or so with whatever veg (and veg scraps) you have lying around. When I make my roast I save my onion skins, carrot ends, celery leaves, potato peelings etc, and throw them in to make stock. Add some peppercorns and bay leaves. Boil for a good 5 or 6 hours. Scoop foam off the top if it forms, top up with water if it gets low.
Once you’ve got a good stock (I usually do this on Sunday evening while cleaning, then leave it on the stove until Monday morning when I resume the process to cook dinner) drain it, discard the carcass, and season to taste. Add some double cream and on your stovetop make a roux.
(Roux for beginners: 1 part butter to 2 parts flour, sautéed until a nice wee paste – used for thickening). Mix a bit of the stock with the roux in your frying pan until its smooth, then add to the giant pot of stock and let it simmer to thicken until its a nice gravy.
In a pie dish, layer some ham, some chicken, some mushrooms and peas along the bottom. If you like hardboiled egg, stick that in there as well. Stick a wee blackbird in the centre. If you’re me, you buy premade puff pastry and you roll it out. Place it on top, poke a wee hole for your wee blackbird, and then crimp the edges.
Put it in a 220 degree oven for 20 mins or so, then serve!