Nero Wolfe Chicken Pie
Rex Stout wrote a great series of mystery books set in the late 30’s about Nero Wolfe – a curmudgeonly man who grows orchids and is particular about good food and beer. I love his books and was very excited to find out my parents owned the cook book! Can’t find it anymore (I think it got lumped in at a garage sale) but had copied this recipe out years ago, thank goodness.
This is a half-day recipe so grab some good swing CDs to keep you company and a cold beer or cider to sip on. This is dinner tonight and my lunches this week (i.e. we expect about 6 servings, but will only but using one 3lb chicken because that is what I pulled out of the freezer).
Part I – Poached Broiler:
- 2 quarts water
- 2 c dry white wine
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp whole pepper corns
- 2 broilers (1½ – 2 lbs each)
- Combine the water and wine in a large pot. Add vegetables with bay leaf and parsley. Simmer 1½ hours. Strain stock and return to pot.
- Salt the broiler cavities and add to stock. Simmer 40-45 min.
- Remove birds and cool 5 min.
At this point you can cut up the chicken and serve with gravy (3c broth reduced to half the volume over high heat. Add 2 Tbs each butter and flour. Whisk, strain and season to taste with salt & pepper) or you can continue to Part II by making the pie crust while the chicken is cooking.
Steve was shocked by how much this smelled like his Greek Grandmother’s chicken soup. It’s pretty standard cooking in our house, so the only change I can think of is the wine. Well, he called his Dad and turns out she would squeeze lemon into the broth (amount unknown) and we had a dry Sauvignon Blanc with a bouquet of citrus (per the label).
Part II – Pie Crust:
- 1c flour
- 1 egg yolks
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
- ½ c butter, cut in small chunks
- ice water
- Sift flour into bowl. Make a well in the centre. Put egg, sugar, salt and butter into well.
- Use fingers to work flour into stiff dough. If more liquid is required, add 1-2 dropps of ice water.
- Roll into ball and wrap with foil or waxed paper. Chill for 1 hour in fridge. Roll into 9″ circle for Part III.
For a pie, double the recipe. Divide ball into halves after chilling. Roll one piece into a 9″ circle and place in bottom of a pie dish. Roll the other into rectangle and cut into ½” strips for lattice crust on top of filling. Brush with milk before baking.
Part III – Chicken Pie:
- 2 poached broilers (see Part I)
- 2 Tbs butter
- ¼c minced shallots
- 2 Tbs flour
- 1 c chicken stock (see Part I)
- ¼ lb mushrooms
- 9″ pie crust (see Part II)
- When chicken is cooled, remove skin and bones. Chop meat.
- Heat 1 Tbs butter (or olive oil) and saute sliced mushrooms. Set aside.
- Heat remaining butter and saute shallots until soft (approx 3-4 min)
- Add flour, stir until blended (approx 2 min)
- Gradually add stock. Stir constantly until thickened.
- Add mushrooms back in and correct seasoning to taste.
- Add chicken and sauce to buttered casserole dish. Top with pie crust. Brush with milk.
- Bake 350F for 20-30 min.
Note to future self: I added the chicken directly onto the pie crust and topped it with the gravy mixture. I then mounded mashed yellow-flesh potatoes on top in lieu of a crust; the chicken was moist and the smell was divine. Loved the flavours of all the natural ingredients – didn’t need any extra seasoning. Would definitely make a again!