Rappie Pie (Nova Scotia)

Rappie Pie

Ahhh Nova Scotia, Latin for New Scotland, is the last of Canada’s Maritime Provinces, and is located almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. While it is the second smallest province in Canada with a land mass of 55,284 square kilometres or 21,300 square miles, it is in fact the second most-densely populated province (behind PEI) with a population of just under 950,000. Speaking of its people, you have a vast mixture here between old Scot and French, with the colourful history of the Acadians thrown in for good measure. Like a lot of food in this part of Canada, it has French roots, as you will see with today’s recipe for Rappie Pie. The name Rappie Pie originates from the French word râper, which means to grate. Although râpure was a favourite dish among Acadians throughout South West Nova Scotia, it was not an easy dish to prepare for a large family. The grating and draining does take a pit out of a person, however the end result is delicious! This can definitely be a one-dish meal, or you could always serve the left over broth as a first course. This recipe will make enough pie for at least 6 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large whole chicken
3 large chopped onions
2 ribs of celery
2 large whole carrots
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
chicken soup base (optional)
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can keep the chicken whole, or cut it into large pieces. Place the chicken into a large soup pot, along with the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf and thyme, and fill with just enough water to completely cover. Simmer the stock until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pot, as well as the celery and carrots, but leave the onions and the broth in the pot. Taste the broth; if it needs to be more “chicken-y” add some of the chicken soup base to the mix. Keep the broth warm, not too hot, but allow the meat to cool so that you can handle it. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, and cut it into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

For this recipe, you want to grate the potatoes, not shred. You can do this with a hand grater (and elbow grease) or by using a juicer that collects the pulp in a side compartment. Another method would be to purée the potatoes using the steel blade on a food processor. No matter what method you choose, you are going to want to remove as much (read ALL) the liquid from the potatoes.

Important note: Do not throw out the liquid drained from the potatoes! It has two purposes:

  1. You’re going to want to measure how much liquid you drained in the end, because you’re going to want to use that same amount of chicken broth to add the moisture back to the dish and;
  2. You’re going to want to save any of the starch that collects at the bottom of your measuring container (that whitish sludgy stuff) to add back you’re your strained potato mixture.

To remove the liquid, place the grated/puréed potatoes in a cotton bag (like a clean pillow case), a dish-towel or several layers of cheesecloth, and twist it until you have a tight package. The liquid will just pour off of it.

Using an equal amount of chicken broth to the amount of liquid you drained, blend the potatoes and broth liquid. You may want to do this in stages so that it gets very well mixed. Potato mixture consistency is correct when the spoon just slightly falls over when made to stand up in the mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add half of the potato mixture into a greased rectangular baking pan or a large casserole dish. Then layer on the cut up chicken, and top with remaining potato mixture. Bake for about 2 hours, or until top is uniformly brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into and serving.

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