Authentic Nova Scotia Rappie pie "rapure" in French, is a well-loved traditional Acadian dish. Unique to the region, it's not a pie in the conventional sense, but instead a delicious mix of potatoes and chicken.
peeled and chopped
Preheat your oven to 375℉ (190℃).
Add the chicken pieces to a large roasting pan and roast in the oven until golden brown, about 1 hour.
Remove the chicken from the pan; set aside. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of water, scraping up the brown bits with a wooden spoon or spatula, then pour the liquid into a large stockpot.
When cool enough to handle, separate the chicken meat from the skin and bone, placing the chicken meat into a bowl and the bone and skin into the stockpot.
Add 2 gallons (8 liters) of water to the stockpot, unpeeled onions, carrots and, celery.
Bring the lot to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered for 2 hours.
Drain, using a cone strainer, into a bowl and discard solids. Return the strained broth to the stockpot.
Add the peeled onion, salt, and black pepper to taste and simmer for another 30 minutes until the onions become tender, reduce heat to low, and keep warm.
Grate the potatoes (yes, that's right, 30 pounds of potatoes!) using a fine hand grater, fine food processor grater, or a juice extractor.
Measuring 2 cups of grated potatoes at a time, add the potato "mush" into a triple lined cheesecloth and squeeze the living daylights out of them until all the liquid is removed. Do not discard the liquid extracted from the potatoes. The extracted liquid must be measured for its total volume for the next step. You may wish to allow the potato liquid to sit undisturbed; the potato starch will settle to the bottom, which can be used to thicken things later.
Transfer the dry potato pulp into a large bowl. While slowly stirring, add the hot chicken broth, measured to the same volume as the potato starch liquid.
The consistency of the potato mixture is correct when the wooden spoon just slightly falls over when stood up in the mix. Taste, season with salt and pepper as needed.
Preheat your oven to 350℉ (180℃).
In a sauté pan, fry the salt pork just enough to render the fat; remove and set aside.
Add the rendered salt pork fat to the roasting pan—layer on top of the fat a 1-inch layer of potato mixture. Then add a layer of the reserved chicken meat. Repeat this process until the last layer of potato mixture is on top.
Distribute the reserved salt pork strips to the top of your potato pie and bake in preheated oven for 3 hours - or until a lovely brown crust has formed.
As a small lad, I remember staying at my Great Grandma's farm in Nova Scotia and eating this every winter.
This is a challenging recipe that takes practice to make but is well worth the effort. After working on this dish for two years now, I have improved it quite a bit.
All of the flavors are injected into the dish via the chicken broth. Boiling the broth to reduce its volume concentrates the flavor.
Using a juicer or juice extractor to "grate" the potato makes it infinitely easier to separate the dry potato from the juice than grating and squeezing the potato in cheesecloth.
This makes it easy to measure how much liquid is removed, so you know exactly how much chicken broth to put back in.
At the bottom of the potato juice, there will be a white "brick" of potato starch. Let the potato liquid settle and gently pour off the water after measuring the total volume. Then take half of the settled potato starch and put it back into the potato mixture.
The juicer removes much more starch than the more traditional technique of grating and wringing out the potatoes in cheesecloth.
The potato pulp should be very dry before reconstituting with the chicken broth. You can wrap the pulp up in the cheesecloth and use the handle of a wooden spoon to knot and mechanically wring out the liquid.
The chicken broth should be boiling hot. I use a large stand mixer to reconstitute the potato with the broth. It will appear that the amount of liquid that came out is too much to put back in, but it will all absorb in as it is incorporated together.
My Great Grandmother utilized lard to grease the pan, but just about any fat will work. I make an immense sheet pan of rappie pie, so it takes approximately 5 hours at 350 degrees to cook. I also cover the top with aluminum foil for the first few hours and uncover it for the remaining two hours. Good luck!
You don't add the potato juice back in! You need to reserve the potato juice to measure how much of the chicken-onion stock you will use to reconstitute the potato. You are exchanging the potato juice for the flavorful chicken broth.
This ranks right up there, with macaroni and cheese as one of the ultimate comfort foods. Certainly, there's a lot of work required, but the result is well worth it.
We make this several times a year; we always add as much chicken onion stock as potato liquid we took out. We additionally incorporate the starch back from the potatoes after it settles to the bottom. It's the way my Monther taught us. She was from Apple River, Nova Scotia. She would also use rabbit combined with chicken meat, extremely good.