Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault (Excerpt and Recipe)
Excerpted from Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault © 2017, Text by Simon Thibault. ©2017, Photographs by Noah Fecks. All rights reserved. Published by Nimbus Publishing
“Cooking from many of these old recipes wasn’t always easy. The majority of the recipes only had a basic list of ingredients, and they rarely included directions, let alone detailed ones. So not only did I have to decipher what to do and in what order, but I also had to figure out how to record that information. It was like having a stilted conversation that was decades long: You need this much of this, and that much of that. You know what to do. I was determined to gather the same strength of character and ease in the kitchen that these women had, if only in the smallest of doses. Reading through these impeccably scripted notebooks, I found myself wondering about these recipes: How hot did this oven need to be to bake this cake? (350 F, apparently.) Was it a coincidence that the blood pudding/sausage recipe was written on the same page as one for doughnuts? (Fresh pig’s blood also means fresh pig’s fat, enough for deep-frying those wonderful treats.)”
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RÂPURE / RAPPIE PIE MAKES 1 L ARGE PIE, SERVES 4– 6
1 (4 pound) whole chicken, preferably a stewing hen
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 medium onions, minced
3−4 carrots, diced
2 tablespoons oil or butter
12 cups cold water (or enough to cover chicken in the pot)
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons minced salt pork (optional)
2 tablespoons salted onions, plus additional 2 teaspoons* (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
• The first thing to do is make the chicken stock. This can be done the day
before. In a pot large enough to accommodate your chicken, sauté onions
in the butter (or oil) until translucent. Add 1 teaspoon of salted onions if
you have them. If not, add a bit of salt to onions to help them sweat.
• Add chicken and cover with cold water, about 12 cups. Add the bay laves
and carrots. Cover the pot and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to keep the
bird at a gentle simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, or until meat is almost
falling off the bone, but not quite.
• Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the stock through a sieve.
(At this point you can refrigerate your stock until you need it, or just keep
• Shred the chicken into small pieces, discarding the bones and skin. Set
• Grate your potatoes on a box grater or rasp. Take your time, or you’ll
end up with bloody knuckles. (Alternatively, you can use a juicer to
simultaneously pulverize your potatoes and remove much of the water.
The texture will be mildly different, but highly comparable.)
• Place portions of the rasped/grated potato into muslin or kitchen towels.
Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. You will be adding stock to it
afterwards, and you want to get out as much of the liquid as possible. (Tip:
Squeeze the potatoes into a large measuring bowl. Let’s say you squeeze
out 7 1/2 cups of potato water, you should add back in about 10 cups
of stock. This is the ratio you’re trying to achieve. Adjust accordingly.)
• Bring the stock to a roiling boil. You need it to be as hot as possible to
scald the potatoes properly. Heat your oven to 425˚F.
• Put the potatoes into a large bowl, big enough to accommodate at
least twice its volume. (If you don’t have a bowl big enough, do this in
batches, making sure to keep your stock as hot as possible for scalding
the potatoes.) Break up the potatoes using a hand mixer. Mix in half
of the hot stock using a hand mixer, and stir it all together, making
sure to moisten the potatoes as much as possible. Mix in the rest of the
hot stock and keep stirring. The mixture will thicken, but keep stirring
for about 2−3 minutes after adding the last of the stock. Taste for
seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and the salted onions as you go.
• Pour enough of the potato pulp to cover the bottom of your casserole
dish. Add roughly 1/2 of your chicken, tossing it over the potatoes. Add
enough potatoes to just cover the chicken, and then add more chicken,
finally covering that with the rest of the potatoes.
• Place the rappie pie into your oven. Bake at 425˚F for 30 minutes, and
then turn down the heat to 375˚F and bake for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Occasionally baste the top with butter (or small dice of salt pork) to
help the crust brown. The dish is ready when the crust on the top is nice
and set and golden brown.
• Serve warm with loads of butter, or possibly a little molasses on the side.