Lakruar

Lucanian Chicken Pie

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Lucania was the ancient region of southern Italy that now comprises Basilicata. Nobody is sure of the origin of this ancient recipe. There is something vaguely North African about its composition, so maybe it was inspired by a Moroccan pastilla. Whatever its source, though, the combination of ingredients makes for a delectable pie that is a little different.

Ingredients

  • 500 g/ lb/5 cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2eggs, beaten
  • 90 ml/6 tbsp dry white wine
  • 90 ml/6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • green salad, to serve (optional)

For the Filling

  • 1 Italian sausage
  • 275 g/10 oz cooked chicken, preferably boiled or steamed
  • 275 g/10 oz soft tumma cheese
  • 2eggs
  • large pinch of ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Mix together the eggs, wine and oil in a jug or pitcher.

  2. Add the mixture to the well in the flour with about 30 ml/2 tbsp warm water. Mix with your hands, gradually incorporating the surrounding flour and adding more water as needed, to make a smooth, elastic dough. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rest while you prepare the filling.

  3. Skin the sausage and crumble the sausage meat into a bowl.

  4. Cut the chicken and cheese into small pieces. Add these to the sausage meat, then add the eggs and flavour with the cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Grease a shallow 20cm/8in pie dish.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry thinly and then cut out two rounds, the first one large enough to line the baking dish and the other, slightly smaller, for the top crust.
  7. Use the first piece of pastry to line the dish and trim the edges with a small, sharp knife.

  8. Fill the lined dish with the chicken mixture and cover with the pastry lid. Seal the edges securely by pressing down on the rim with the prongs of a fork. Trim away any excess pastry.
  9. Using a sharp knife or metal skewer, pierce the surface of the pie in several places to let the steam escape during cooking. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is crisp and golden. Serve the pie hot or cold, with a green salad, if you like.

Variation

Tumma is a cheese local to the south of Italy, and may be difficult to find. Made from sheep’s milk, this stretched-curd cheese is useful for cooking because it melts slowly. A good alternative is unsmoked scamorza. Mozzarella can also be used, but the flavour will be much milder.

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