The Recipe - 2009

Albanian Chicken Pie

As taught to Lindsay Sterling in Portland, ME, by Bill Dilios, from Politsani, Albania, November 2009

Serves 10-14

The day before serving:

1. Roast a chicken and make stock. Transfer filo from freezer to fridge.

1 chicken
2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
1/2 yellow onion, large chunks
2 quarts water, cut into large chunks
2 boxes filo dough (he used Athens brand)

Preheat oven to 350. Wash chicken, put in a deep roasting pan breast up with water, celery, onion and water. Season with salt and pepper and put in oven. Every fifteen minutes or so turn chicken over (cool basting technique). Once chicken is browned and the meat is opaque to the bone (about an hour), let cool. Strain broth, skim off fat, discard veggie pieces and let broth cool. Take all the chicken meat off the bones, cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Refrigerate meat and stock separately. Transfer filo from freezer to fridge.

The next day:

2. Transfer filo from fridge to counter one hour before cooking.

3. Make the pie filling (2 hours before you want to eat).

2 Tbsp olive oil
5 cups onion, large dice
1 1/2 cup rice
chicken stock you made yesterday
the bite-size chicken meat you made yesterday
1 boullion cube (Knoll brand preferred) or salt (optional)
5 eggs

Warm stock in a saucepan on stove. Drizzle olive oil generously on bottom of large pot, saute onion for five to ten minutes until limp. Add rice and saute a couple minutes more without browning. Add enough stock (about a quart) so rice and onion are just floating in liquid, add salt and pepper or boullion cube to taste, and cook on medium high, lid off, stirring every once in a while for about 30 minutes, until mixture thickens and rice is al dente. Add chicken and eggs. Stir well and let cool.

4. Assemble the pie.

Chicken and rice filling you just made
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup olive oil
the 2 boxes filo dough waiting for you on the counter

Preheat oven to 385.

Bill made one pie in a giant deep dish pizza pan. It made about 20 small squares - 2 per person. While I keep my eye out for a huge pie pan like that, I'll be using what I've got at home: two 9 x 13 rectangular casserole dishes. For my family of four, I might also freeze half the filling and stock and make one pie one night, and a second pie next week. Round cake pans would work, a cast iron skillet. Anything with a verticle 2" side.

Melt butter in bowl and add oil. Brush bottom and sides of pan with butter mixture. Layer whole filo sheets over bottom of pan (no folding, cutting or fussing -- overlapping is fine). Now be like Jackson Pollock with the butter brush, dripping butter on the filo. No full coverage or brushing necessary. Just drips, like it's starting to rain. Make another layer of filo, this time (and from here on out) draping sheets 2-3 inches over the pan edges. Drizzle butter. Layer filo. Drizzle butter. Continue until you're almost through half a pound (one box) of filo. Now spread half of the chicken filling to the edges of the pan, drizzle that with butter, then do two more layers of filo-butter before spreading the second half of the chicken mixture. Drizzle butter on top of that. Layer filo-butter until your second box runs out (or your pan is full). Fold all the draped edges on top of the pie, brush the dry folded edges down. Cook for about 40 minutes until the entire pie is golden brown. Let it cool for 10-20 minutes. Then turn pan over onto a cutting board so the pie comes out, bottom side up. Cut into squares or wedges, depending on what look you want.

Please contact me about how this recipe works for you! lindsay@lindsaysterling.com

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2009