Greek chicken and rice pie
Prep 2hr (+3hr cooling and 1hr chilling time)Bake 50minMakes 8 serves
This pie is one of my all-time favourites and brings together some of Greece’s most popular ingredients – silverbeet, haloumi, Kalamata olives, rice and filo pastry. It takes a little while to prepare but don’t be put off, I promise it will be well worth the effort.
20g butter, plus extra melted for brushing
80ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
2 leeks, white section only, trimmed and thinly sliced
200g (1 cup) long-grain white rice
1 bunch silverbeet (about 960 g), thick stems discarded, leaves washed and coarsely chopped
250ml (1 cup) pouring (thin) cream
70g pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
225g haloumi, cut into 1 cm pieces
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 sheets filo pastry
60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
3 teaspoon sesame seeds, to sprinkle
lemon wedges, to serve
1.5kg whole chicken
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 brown onion, unpeeled, quartered
10 whole peppercorns
4 litres water (about)
260g (1 cup) plain Greek-style yoghurt
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- To make the poached chicken, put the chicken, carrot, celery, onion and peppercorns in a large saucepan or stockpot and add enough water to cover the chicken by about 2cm. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and poach gently, covered, for 40 minutes or until just cooked though. Remove from heat and stand the chicken in the stock at room temperature for 1 hour to cool slightly. Transfer to the fridge and cool the chicken in the stock completely (this will take about 2 hours).
- Strain the stock, discarding the solids. Return 1 litre (4 cups) stock to the saucepan and bring to the boil (see Baker’s Tips). Continue boiling the stock for a further 12-15 minutes or until reduced to 375ml (1½ cups). Set aside.
- Remove the meat from the chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Use your fingers to shred the chicken meat, cover and place in the fridge until required.
- Put the butter, 1 tbsp oil and leek in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, covered and stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the leek is just soft. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Add the 375ml (1½ cups) reduced stock and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover the saucepan with a lid, and cook gently for 10 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and the rice is almost tender. Transfer to a large bowl and place in the fridge to cool (this will take about 1 hour).
- Meanwhile, put the silverbeet in a large saucepan, cover with a lid and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until wilted. Strain and cool slightly, then use your hands to squeeze out any excess moisture. Set aside.
- To make the herbed yoghurt, combine the yoghurt, garlic and herbs in a small bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until required.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush a 20cm x 30cm (base measurement) shallow slice tin with some of the melted butter.
- When the rice has cooled, add the chicken, silverbeet, cream, olives, haloumi, parsley and thyme and stir gently to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Lay the filo sheets in a stack, cover with a dry tea towel and then a damp one to stop them from drying out. Take 1 sheet of filo (keeping the remaining sheets covered with the tea towels) and brush generously with the remaining olive oil. Lay another sheet on top. Continue to layer with the remaining filo to make two stacks, each with 6 sheets. Place the filo stacks widthways and slightly overlapping, into the greased tin to line, allowing the ends to overhang the top.
- Spoon the chicken and rice mixture into the tin. Fold the overhanging filo over the top to cover. Brush top with remaining oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until filo is golden and crisp. Remove from oven and stand in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a serving plate or board. Serve warm or at room temperature with the herbed yoghurt and lemon wedges.
- Any leftover pie will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature or reheat, covered with foil, in a preheated 160°C oven for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the filling is heated through and the pastry is crisp.
Photography by Alan Benson.