Chicken & cabbage pie

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I´m not among those whose childhood winters were tainted with the scent of overdone cabbage – lucky me. In fact, my mum´s wonderful Spitzkohl, perfectly tender and al dente,  has always been one of my favorite sides during the cold season. So this time of year, a pale head of cabbage is almost always residing in my fridge, patiently waiting to find its way into one weeknight meal or the other. Braised cabbage with a handful of lardons or sliced pancetta, then tossed with penne or rigatoni pasta is my fastest version, or whenever I don´t have a better idea. But when I have the time, I love making pies. They´re the perfect antidote to those chilly, rainy days we´re having right now, and whatever you put in, the flavors will almost inevitably melt together quite beautifully. If you prepare the pastry in advance – or simply buy it – , its not even that time consuming, and I simply love the decoration part of it all, cutting a few leaves or carving little patterns with a fork or knife.

Of many pies I´ve made during the last weeks, this was one of the most welcomed.

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Chicken & cabbage pie (serves 4-6)
pastry:
500 g flour
250 g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs
1 tsp fine salt
half a small glass of cold water, 40-50 ml

alternatively, buy 2 packages of puff pastry

filling:
500 g cabbage (1/2 head)
50 g pancetta
500 g chicken thighs/breast
40 g pine nuts
1/2 bunch of parsley
a dash of curry powder, optional
1 egg
100 ml cream
salt, pepper, a dash of piment d´Espelette or mild chili
butter and olive oil for frying

1 egg for glazing

baking:  approx. 60 min at 180°C/350 °F

For the pastry, combine all ingredients until you have a firm, elastic dough. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hour or over night.

For the filling, roast pine nuts without adding extra fat in a large non stick pan until golden. Set aside.

Cut cabbage into quarters and remove the strunk. Slice 2 quarters into about finger-sized stripes. Slice pancetta.

In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat, and fry pancetta until most of the fat is rendered. Add cabbage, season with salt, toss and cook for 3-5 minutes, covered – until softened, but still underdone. Set aside.

Cut chicken breasts into cubes and/or cut meat from the thighs, depending what meat you prefer. Adding a little more olive oil to the pan if needed, cook meat over high heat for 2 minutes, until somewhat browned, but not cooked through. Season with salt, pepper, piment d´Espelette or chili.

Return cabbage and pine nuts to the pan and mix with the meat.

In a small bowl, whisk an egg with cream and a good pinch of salt and curry (if using).

Roll out the pastry – you can divide it in two, so it´s easier to roll out. Cut out 2 circles, and one or two large stripes to fit the base, cover and sides of the baking dish, allowing for a 2 cm overhang on the sides. Cut a small hole from one of the circles destined to become the cover of the pie (so the steam can get out and the pie won´t puff up).

Grease a baking dish ( 22.5 cm/9 inch), and line with the pastry. Brush the edges with a little cold water to “glue” the pastry edges firmly together. Add filling, press in with a fork. Pour the egg & cream mixture. Cover with the second pastry circle, sealing the edges closely.

Decorate to your liking. Brush with egg wash. Bake for about one hour in a preheated oven.

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26 Comments

  1. This is beautiful, and if I didn’t have a childhood plagued by overcooked cabbage I would make it in an instant. These days I can only really tolerate raw cabbage that’s been gently wilted by salt and turned into a vinegary slaw with just a touch of mayo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that´s such a pity! I guess my mum had learnt her lesson and made her cabbage rather too raw than too cooked through! But if you´d just have the cabbage kiss the pan for a minute or two, no chance you´d overcook it in the oven. But I can totally understand your trauma 😉 ! Thanks for leaving such a lovely note anyway!!

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  2. Sabine, I think they just call Spitzkohl pointed cabbage here. My translating app “Leo” told me it was also called sweatheart cabbage. I have never heard that term being used. My farmer calls it Spirzkohl but he is from Holland,

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    1. Thank you so much, Gerlinde! Habe ich wieder was gelernt! I have to say, I have not seen that variety of pointed cabbage here so far, so the pie was made from the “usual” cabbage head. Danke Dir!

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