Simply food


CHICK 5All the food I’ve been cooking while in lock-down has been comfort food. And it’s working! I’m feeling comforted. I’ve also put on 11.5 lb. A less than welcome outcome, but who cares. I’m happy. And today’s recipe will make you happy too. Guaranteed to please: chicken pie with garlic mashed potatoes.

In my previous eBook Market to Table: The Cookbook I have a wonderful recipe for Chicken Pot Pie, which I discovered at The Empress Hotel in Victoria, Vancouver Island. But with flour being so heavily unavailable at the moment, I thought I would skip the usual pastry lid and instead make a delicious and very garlicky mashed potato topping. I’m saving the small amount of flour that I do have in stock for fresh white bread, as soon as I lay my hands on some yeast, also still in very short supply. As soon as I find yeast, I will make bread, and write about it. In the meantime, supper calls.

Final Gentleman's Portion Cookbook Cover (002)This recipe and many more from the past two years of our weekly blog—which I share with my esteemed colleagues David Moorcroft, the world’s leading expert on cruising, and Jim Walker, an outstanding oenophile, who writes engagingly about his experiences distributing and tasting mostly French wine—have been collected in a new book titled, with unremitting logic, Gentleman’s Portion: The Cookbook. The sub-title is Comfort Food. At the moment it is over 200 pages, so I shall spend the rest of my time in self-isolation editing, tweaking and re-writing. New recipes will be added until I reach my self-imposed deadline, which will be the day this crisis is over, the travel ban is lifted and I can get on a plane and go on my long scheduled trip to the UK and Portugal.

However, the cover has been designed and I’m so thrilled with it that I’m previewing it here. The first mention of a “gentleman’s portion” was in a London magazine in 1857, so I wanted something vaguely Victorian for the cover, with an old-fashioned look and script text. Harking back to my previous two cookbooks, we have included a circle motif and a strong element of red. My designer, Laura Pimlott, who has been very patient with me through many revisions, has delivered more than I asked for. I hope you like it.


Shopping list


  • 1 1/2 to 2 lb potatoes (about 3 large ones) peeled and halved
  • 1 head of fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 cups (250 mL) chicken stock
  • 1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
  • 2 cups (500 mL) well chopped carrots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 lb (454 g) boneless, skinless chicken, cubed
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) fine white sauce flour, or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) whipping cream
  • 1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas, defrosted

Step by step: Dish with dry mixture, add sauce, pipe on topping, baked

Preparation and cooking

  1. Peel and quarter the potatoes and cover with water in a pot. Add plenty of sea salt. Add the peeled garlic cloves and cook along with the potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender (about 15–20 mins).
  2. When the potatoes are done, drain the potatoes and garlic and add 1 tsp butter, with a good grind of black pepper. Mash the garlic right in with the potatoes until smooth. Add sea salt to taste. Set aside to cool.
  3. Open a pack of frozen peas and measure out 1 cup to thaw.
  4. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the chicken stock, wine and chopped carrots to a boil. Add a bay leaf and a pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 mins.
  5. Add the chopped chicken and simmer uncovered for a further 10 mins.
  6. Strain the stock into a bowl and put the dry chicken mixture into at traditional 9 in pie dish. Discard the bay leaf. Measure out 1 cup of the warm stock (add more fresh chicken stock or water if there is not enough) and hold for the sauce.
  7. Back in the saucepan, melt the rest of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about 2 mins, then add the hot stock and whisk until smooth and the sauce thickens. Add ground nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce, then cook for about 5 mins. Lastly, stir in the cream and cook for a final 2 mins. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  8. Tip the sauce over the chicken filling in the dish and stir to coat well. Add the peas (making sure they are thawed) and mix in gently. Try not to break up the pieces of chicken.
  9. Put the cooled mashed potatoes into a piping bag with a serrated nozzle. You can use a proper piping bag, but I usually just cut the corner off a plastic bag and throw the whole mess away after piping out the potatoes. The size and pattern of the nozzle is up to you and not essential. The idea is to pipe on the mashed potatoes without squishing the pie filling out of the dish—and also make an attractive finish. Pipe the potatoes around the dish starting from the outside. If you have some left over, you can add more to the top.
  10. Preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F. Place the pie in the oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, turn the broiler on for the last few minutes to ensure the mashed potatoes are good and brown, but not burnt. Allow the dish to rest for five minutes or so before serving.

Featured image: Chicken pie with garlic mashed potatoes

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This is Nigel’s 273rd blog on Gentleman’s Portion. The SEARCH function at the top works really well, if you want to look back and see some of his previous stories. The link to Gentleman’s Portion: The Cookbook is now live, well priced at $9.99 or £9.99.

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