1 corn-fed chicken, about 1.5-1.8kg
1 bay leaf
2 celery sticks
1 onion, chopped
1 large bunch of watercress, chopped
250g ricotta cheese
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp salt
500g puff pastry
1 egg, mixed with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp water, to glaze
Put the chicken in a casserole and cover with water. Add the bay leaf, celery and onion and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and poach for one hour. Allow to cool then take all the meat off the bone (keep the stock for gravy or soup).
Mix together the watercress, ricotta, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, seasoning and egg. Cut the pastry in half and roll each piece out thinly into an oval that is roughly the size of a whole chicken. Put one round on a baking sheet. Place the chicken meat in the centre of this piece of pastry, leaving a border of 3cm, then cover the meat with the watercress mixture. Brush the edge of the pastry with the eggwash, then lay the second piece over the top. Press down the edges, and trim to make a neat oval. Brush the whole surface with eggwash then score the surface with a knife.
To bake, preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the pithivier in the oven and bake until golden (25-35 minutes). Allow to cool before slicing.