Known in Brazil as Empadão de Frango, this is definitely our national chicken pie. There are countless versions and each family I know has its own recipe, but the best ones are those that make the chicken the king of the dish. The secret is to cook the whole chicken in the stock to intensify the flavour of the meat. It is also very important to shred the bird very finely so it retains its moisture during baking resulting in a very creamy filling. The outcome is a pie with an intense chicken and buttery flavour that will literally melt in the mouth.
There is a lot of work involved in cooking this pie and it is really time consuming but if you are a poultry fan you should give it a go and I can assure you will fall in love with this recipe.
Note: for best results the chicken should be finely shredded:
To cook the chicken:
1 large (1.6kg) chicken, rinsed
1 large onion, quartered
1 large carrot, roughly sliced
1 leek (white part only), roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly sliced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
Enough chicken or vegetable stock to cook the whole chicken (about 3L)
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tbs unsalted tomato paste
1 tbs corn flour
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
½ cup spring onions, finely sliced
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ qty shortcrust pastry (check recipe here)
1 egg yolk
1 tbs milk
1. Put chicken, onion, carrot, leek, tomatoes, celery, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns in a stockpot and cover with chicken or vegetable stock leaving approximately 2 cm of stock above the chicken. Cover the pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1 – ½ hour or until meat falls from bone, skimming foam from surface occasionally. Remove chicken and strain stock through a muslin-lined sieve. Discard solids and reserve 1 cup of the stock. The remaining stock can be frozen in ice-cube trays for later use.
2. Remove skin and bones from the chicken and finely shred it with your hands (see picture above).
3. Prepare the shortcrust pastry as per this recipe. Make two balls being one twice as big than the other, enclose them in plastic wraps and leave in the fridge until ready to use.
4. Pre-heat the oven 180°C, fan-forced. Heat the olive oil in a frypan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and stir for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, fry for 2 minutes then stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken. Dissolve the corn flour in 1 cup of the stock prepared in step 1 and add into the pan. Stir in parsley and spring onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer this mixture to a plate and set aside to cool.
5. Meanwhile, roll out the bigger ball on a lightly floured surface to 5 mm thick, then line a 25 cm diameter removable-bottom baking pan. Place the baking tin in the fridge for 10 minutes. Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 15 minutes, then remove paper and weights and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden and dry.
6. Roll out the smaller pastry ball on a lightly floured surface to 5 mm thick keeping around shape. Pour chicken mixture into the baking pan. Cover the pie with the remaining pastry and brush with egg wash (1 yolk slightly beaten with 1 tbs milk). Bake for 35-40 minutes or until firm and golden. Remove from oven and set aside for about 15 minutes to set. Serve it warm with a salad on the side.