The ancient Greeks knew their pies as… Artocreasa pie that looks upside down, with a bottom crust, but not a top crust.
The Romans, who appropriated (stolen or were inspired, depending on who you ask) about almost everything from the Greeks, including their gods, art, architecture, literature, cuisine, and language, may have been the first to make a top- and bottom-crust pie.
Whether or not this is an improvement is debatable. the Library of Congress – The oldest federal cultural institution in the United States – says that in the second century BC (BC) Marcus Porcius Cato devised a recipe placenta in of agricultural culture, which may be one of the oldest recipes for a closed pie. It’s worse than it looks: the placenta was a kind of cheesecake stuffed with goat cheese, honey, and layers of pastry dough, and used in religious rituals.
Since those times, there have been millions of versions, both sweet and savory, culminating in what must be considered the ultimate crime against gastronomy: the burger patty.
I’m not going there, so instead, I’m going to offer this recipe for chicken pie, with a homemade shortcrust pastry that won’t leave you with the regret (and heartburn) of that last pie from the warmer 3 a.m. gas station.
Chicken pie in shortcrust pastry
To prepare the short pastry:
2 cups of cake flour
200 grams of coarsely chopped butter
About 4 tablespoons of ice water
For the chicken filling:
1 cooked boneless chicken, cut into pieces
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 chopped onion
4 shallots, washed and chopped
1 chopped green pepper
1 bowl sliced mushrooms (optional)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced and mashed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup concentrated chicken broth
250 ml cream
3 tablespoons cornmeal mixed with a little water/wine
White pepper and salt to taste
Splash of soy sauce
pastries: Sift the flour and salt into a food processor, and add the butter cubes. Stir until crumbly, slowly add the ice water until the dough holds together. Remove the dough from the preparation bowl, form into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge for at least an hour. As soon as needed, the pastry is removed from the wrapper, placed on a floured surface and lightly rolled out (approximately 1 cm thick). Pastry shape as per requirements.
Sauté the onion over low heat until glassy, add the shallots and stir for a minute, then add the green pepper. Sauté for 2 more minutes, then add the chicken and stir-fry until heated through. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until it boils. Remove from heat and allow to cool before inserting into the pastry.
TO ASSEMBLE: To make a large bowl pie, grease a pie plate, place the filling in the bowl, then cover with a pastry wrap. Tuck the edges of the pastry.
Brush the dough with the egg mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until fully cooked (about 40 minutes).
For individual pies, shape pastry using a pudding bowl, place chicken mixture in center of half, brush edges of this half with egg wash, fold until half-moon shape and press with a fork to seal. Bake as above.
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