before i begin, i want to start by saying all hail to d’eons rappie pie, and to every Acadian family out east, the true rappie pie experts. rappie pie is an Acadian dish, and i assume it’s only because of limited availability that it’s not more popular than poutine. after you have this, poutine will feel like an aggressively crunchy salad. rappie pie is the comfort food we all need in january.
when we were kids, we’d go for drives along nova scotia’s south shore in search of rappie pie. (and visiting big old catholic churches where i’d play bryan adams & disney favourites on the pipe organs, but i digress.) what could be better? you’re literally just smushing all the water out of the potatoes and replacing it with stock and butter, adding chicken, and roasting it until it has a crispy, buttery crust. it’s confusingly simple and complex all at once, and it carries more epic Acadian history and culture than it does starch.
every family has their own way of making rappie pie. some like it visually challenging and super oozy soft (“sloppy rappie” we affectionately called it growing up), some like it dry, some like it with clams, pork, or beef. some will insist this isn’t a real version because there’s no pork fat. i am partial to the medium-moisture chicken version, and i looOOoove the buttery crust. this version aims to maximize the dark chickeny tastes, and create golden crunch on every surface area possible. on a quick google, you’ll see that many recipes boil the whole chicken in order to make the stock, then reuse the meat in the pie. for this version, i’ve just made my favourite gelatin-rich stock recipe, then used my favourite parts of the chicken for the pie meat (dark quarters obvs).
2lbs chicken wings (or 2 chicken carcasses, if you happen to have)
2 pig’s feet
2 onions, quartered
1 celery stalk
pie assembly ingredients:
10lbs potatoes, peeled
8 cups of very hot stock
1 minced onion
4 roasted chicken quarters (dark meat), deboned in bite-size chunks
8 tbsp butter, plus ~4tbsp more for greasing skillet & dotting the pie
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
12″ cast iron skillet
brown sugar, salt, and butter (for serving)
night before: make stock
preheat oven to 500. roast pig’s feet & chicken pieces for 10 minutes (this will give your stock a richer flavour). combine all stock ingredients in a large stock pot, and fill with water until they are covered. boil, then reduce to a simmer for a minimum of 4 hours. strain & reserve stock. optionally, save meat from the chicken wings for bonus pie meat. give some to your dog.
making the pie:
first, line a large pot or container with a clean pillowcase. trust me. grate the potatoes, or put through a food processor in batches (what i did!), pouring the grated potatoes into the pillowcase.
when all of the potatoes are in the pillowcase, tie it off. your pot will already be filling with liquid.
at this point, my parents used to put the pillowcase through the spin cycle of the washing machine. our machine doesn’t have that option, so i stood in the shower and wrung the hell out of it for probably 20 minutes. what motivates me as i struggle to wring is knowing the more water i expel, the more i can add butter. do not half-ass this step! you want the potatoes to be as dry as possible.
a closer look. see how crumbly this is? it also turns blush pink, which idk, i find really cute. millennial pink has nothing on this. preheat oven to 400f. take stock out of the fridge, and bring to a boil. you’re going to scald the potatoes by pouring 8 cups of super hot stock into the potatoes. you could remove the fat from the stock at this point, but i mean, why do that to yourself.this is the cold stock. are you ready for this jelly? i poured in 2 cups of the very hot stock at a time, until i reached 8 cups, stirring as i went. at this point, you also add the 8tbsp of butter (which will melt into the mixture) and the one minced onion, 2 tbsp salt and 1tbsp pepper. stir to incorporate.you want it to look like this:
this is where i think my process deviates most from other recipes. it’s to nurture an abundance of crispy crust, seriously the most magical part. you’re going to generously grease bottom & sides of your 12″ cast iron skillet with about 2tbsp of butter, leaving any remaining butter in the pan. bring pan to med-high heat, until the butter has just started to brown. at this point, remove from heat and pour in half of the potato mixture, and cover with the chicken.working quickly, cover with the remaining amount of the potato mixture to the brim of the skillet, and dot with ~2tbsp of butter. you may have a little mixture left over at this point — i had enough to make a additional mini-4″ pie.bake in the 400f oven for ~1 hour, or until a nice golden brown crust has formed. this particular pie took 1 hour and 15 mins.slice and serve with salt, brown sugar & butter. forget poutine exists. forget time or space exist. nothing is better than this pie in your mouth.