Old-Fashioned Rich Chicken Pie

James Beard

Author and Educator

"In the introduction to the 'Chicken Pie' section of James Beard's American Cookery, Beard notes that for best results you should have both the crust and the chicken mixture at a cold temperature to achieve a more unified dish. He also instructs you to eat chicken pies as soon as possible after baking." –Phoebe Lapine and Cara Eisenpress of Big Girls, Small Kitchen


  • 1 chicken, 3 to 4 pounds
  • 12 small white onions
  • 2 carrots cut in thin slices
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
  • James Beard's Pastry Dough
  • 1 egg yolk blended with 1 tablespoon cream


Poach the chicken and allow to cool. Reserve the broth. Cook the vegetables until just tender in some of the chicken broth, seasoned with garlic and parsley. Melt the butter in a saucepan or skillet, blend with the flour, and cook several minutes. Gradually stir in 1 cup of the broth and continue stirring till the mixture thickens. Cool slightly, stir in the cream, and season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.

Cut the meat from the breast, legs, and thighs into substantial pieces. Add smaller bits of chicken to the sauce. Place the large pieces in a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Set an egg cup or other small, oven-safe cup in the middle to hold up the crust. (Editor's note: this technique keeps the dough elevated and away from the steaming filling, which helps to prevent the crust from getting soggy.) Arrange the onions and carrots over the chicken and pour the sauce over all. Allow the mixture to cool thoroughly.

Prepare the pastry and roll out to fit the baking dish with about 1 1/2 inches overlap, about 3/8 to 1/2-inch thick. Roll up the edges and crimp with the tines of a fork to make it adhere to the top of the baking dish. If there is any pastry left over, cut decoration in the shape of small leaves or flowers and attach to the top crust with a little water. Make a vent in the center of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Brush the pastry well with the cream and egg yolk mixture. Bake 15 minutes in a 450ºF oven. Reduce the heat to 350ºF and continue baking till the crust is nicely browned and cooked through, about 35 minutes. Serve with either a green vegetable, such as peas or snap beans, or a salad.


6 servings