Kotopita - The Best Chicken Pie in Greece
Another corker of a recipe here from Rick Stein, and when I mention the 'best' chicken pie in Greece, I am quoting the words of Mr. Stein himself in his cooking and TV series 'From Venice to Istanbul.'
It was a recipe that I knew I had to try as soon as I watched him prepare it with some women in the mountainous region of Epirus in Western Greece. This was a clever recipe I thought. Using few ingredients (it's all you need), a whole chicken and more importantly the medicine the chicken produces in the form of stock, I liked the look of it. Equally using filo pastry (and sesame seeds as I have) brings you back to the Eastern Med, as opposed to say, Bolton.
The beauty of this recipe really is the use of minimum ingredients that give maximum flavour. After testing it a few times, I added some extra flavours (nutmeg, thyme & dill) in usual FeedTim fashion. Perform this recipe when you have time because the longer and slower you poach the chicken, the sweeter the meat. It also makes a great dinner party piece. People love a pie.
Serves 6-8 as a main.
Onions or shallots - 1kg, chopped
1 whole chicken - 1.5-2kg
Nutmeg - 1/2 fresh grated or 1 tbsp ground
Thyme - 8-10 sprigs fresh or 1 tbsp dried
Dill - bunch of fresh or 2 tbsp dried
Zest & Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Eggs - 3, beaten
Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
Light Olive Oil
Filo Pastry - 2 x packs (around 14 sheets in total)
White or Black Sesame Seeds for garnish
Prepare your onions and add to a heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid that will comfortably fit a whole chicken. Add the chicken (with skin on) and cover with cold water until almost submerged. Put the heat on the lowest possible setting and cover partially with the lid so that it's barely on a simmer. Leave to poach for 5 hours. You can speed up the cooking process by cooking the meat on a slightly higher heat, but keep an eye on it so the pan doesn't overflow. You can tell when the meat is cooked because it should fall off the bone (between the leg & breast for example).
Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a plate to cool and strain the wonderful stock into a separate pan. Reserve the onions.
Reduce the chicken stock on a high heat without the lid until it becomes a thick, gelatinous liquid. This will take a while (at least 30 mins).
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6 and take the filo out of the fridge.
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, extract all of the meat from the bone and skin and add to a bowl with the onions, herbs, nutmeg, lemon zest & juice, eggs and seasoning (plenty of it). Add the stock to the same bowl once reduced down and mix well.
With a bowl of olive oil at the ready, grease a rectangle or 30cm round pie dish with oil and begin layering the first pack of filo, alternating direction each time and brushing each layer with a little oil as you go. Add the chicken mixture and fold in the overhanging filo edges. Top with the 2nd pack of filo, alternating in the same way and folding over the filling. Seal in any overhanging edges and brush the top of the pie with a little more oil. Score the pie and garnish with the sesame seeds.
Cook the pie for approx 50 mins, until it has browned nicely. Allow to rest for at least 15 mins before serving.