Rappie Pie - A Nova Scotia Acadian Dish
I grew up on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. I was exposed to the vast culture and different cuisine of the region. Rustic and delicious meals were had at every restaurant, grandmothers home and of course from my mother. One memory of a delicious treat was Rappie pie. I'm not sure if it was the memory of eating it, or the great time we all had in the kitchen preparing the ingredients. Now there are not a lot of separate ingredients, just potatoes, chicken, chicken stock, onions and some pork fat, but the way it was prepared, and baked for hours made the afternoon magical.
Rappie pie, or Rapure in french, was based on potatoes and replacing the potato liquid and starch with a hot stock. The pie was made with any protein available at the time from clams, corned beef, rabbit and the most popular chicken. Then baking the whole concoction until everything was done and there was a delicious hard crust of baked potatoes on top. This was then served with a little butter, some people liked molasses, but NEVER ketchup.
I mentioned the time in the kitchen, a few hours at least. Well this was because of the way the potatoes were prepared. Depending on the number of people coming over for Saturday night, or a holiday supper, 10 to 50 lbs of potatoes were peeled, washed, grated (by hand) and squeezed through a cheese cloth until all that was left was a dry potato pulp. The basis for the Rappie pie. Usually one section of cooks did the potatoes, another the chickens and stock, and then there was the overseer. The person who knew the recipe like the back of her hand. It was almost in her DNA and she would assemble the final dish, and place it in the oven for 3 to 5 hours. Never checking on it until the last 30 minutes. Knowing instinctively that the brown crusted goodness in that oven was going to make alot of people very happy.
Rappie pie is an Acadian dish unique to the South Shore of Nova Scotia. I have downsized the recipe for a family of 4. I invite you to give it a try.
Here's what you will need:
5 lbs of peeled and washed potatoes.
1 Onion chopped
1 to 2 liters of Chicken Stock
1/4 lb of salt pork
1 to 2 lbs of cooked shredded chicken (thighs are the best)
Salt and Pepper to taste.
The modern day process:
Using a juicer, you can breeze through the potatoes and have an exact amount of liquid removed from the spuds. this is important because you will be putting the liquid back into the potatoes in the form of hot chicken stock.
Measure the liquid extracted, less the potato starch. In this recipe it was 1.25 liters.
Cover the potato pulp with plastic wrap until ready to use.
Chop the onion and put in a pot with 1.25 liters of unsalted chicken stock, bring to a boil.
Allow this to boil until the onions are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Render your salt pork down to produce about a table spoon of fat while onions and stock are boiling.
Once your onions are tender, in a large mixing bowl add the boiling liquid to the potato pulp a few ladles at at time until everything is incorporated.
In a 4" deep baking dish (9x12) add the salt pork fat to the bottom to cover.
Then add about 1" of the potatoes.
Next put your chicken in a layer over the potatoes.
Cover with your remaining potato mixture.
Place in a 350 degree oven until the top crust is golden brown and crispy. This should take from 3 to 4 hours.
Remove from oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes.
Serve on a plate with some micro greens, a pat of butter and a little salt and pepper.