Chicken, Polenta and Quail Egg Pie

This is a very good pie to take cold on a picnic or even lukewarm if you have just cooked it. The five-spice powder gives a hint of China which is a change from Branston pickle.


  • 1.75kg/4lb chicken, jointed
  • 600ml/1 pint chicken stock
  • 300ml/½ pint white wine
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 heaped tsp five-spice powder
  • 1¼–2 tbsp polenta
  • 55g/2oz butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 150g/6oz cooked ham lardons
  • 8 quail eggs, hardboiled
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 225g/½lb shortcrust pastry beaten egg, to glaze


Put the jointed chicken in a saucepan and cover with the chicken stock and the wine. Add the sliced onion, bayleaf, peppercorns and five-spice powder. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, add polenta, lemon juice and butter and stir. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so until you think the chicken is tender. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool.

Skin and bone the chicken joints. Place the chicken meat in a large pie-dish, add the cooked ham lardons, the shelled quail eggs and the sauce from the pan. Taste for seasoning and cover with short-crust pastry. A nice glaze is obtained by brushing the pastry with a beaten egg. Cook in a preheated moderate oven at 200°C/ 400°F/Gas 6 for 25–30 minutes or until golden.