Kotopita (Greek Chicken Pie)

What prompted me to make a full-on Greek meal tonight was not just the unusually dry, mid-70’s, Grecian-like weather we were having. Or that I needed a dinner to feed five. It was actually due to an over abundance of cucumbers in the garden. The cucumbers that you think aren’t bearing fruit until you discover one that’s the size of a rolling pin. So it was time for a Greek Salad. And something to go along with it.

Kotopita (Greek Chicken Pie)

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1 cup butter, total
2 lbs boneless chicken meat
4 cups of chicken broth (can be made with bouillon)
1/4 cup flour
8-10 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
1 cup crumbled or coursely cheese feta cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
12-16 sheets of phyllo (filo) dough

Place the chicken meat in a large pot and pour the chicken broth over the meat. Today I used boneless chicken thighs instead of breasts. My family tends to like dark chicken over light and you can be pretty much guaranteed that the meat won’t dry out. For sake of ease on a sailboat, I typically use Better Than Bouillon to make my broth. Simmer for 15 minutes, until done. Pull the chicken out of the broth with tongs and set in a breezy place to cool. Pour the broth into a bowl or container and set aside. You will be using this broth. Wipe the pot clean.

Preheat your galley oven to 350º. While the chicken cools, make the white sauce. Chop the scallions. You’ll want to end up with 1 cup or more of chopped scallions.  In the large pot you just used, melt 1/4 cup butter and sauté the scallions for about 3 minutes.

Add the flour and cook for another minute. Using quick mixing flour is helpful if you have it. Add 3 of the 4 cups of chicken broth to the pan and cook over low heat until thickened. If it seems too thick, add some more broth. Turn off the burner and set aside to cool down a bit. Shred the chicken meat.

Add the chicken meat to the sauce.

Mince the parsley, dill and mint. Add to the chicken sauce.

Lightly beat the 3 eggs. Combine the feta cheese and eggs into the sauce. Stir in well. Add a teaspoon of pepper and salt to taste. Set aside while you prepare the phyllo dough.

Phyllo dough on a sailboat? It is unusual, especially in mid-July in the typically humid mid-Atlantic region. Phyllo dough does not withstand moisture at all. The climate needs to be balanced. Too much humidity can ruin it. And, being paper-thin, the sheets dry out fast. So you need to work quickly when using phyllo dough. On the flip side, it is somewhat forgiving as far as the layering. If the layers look a little messy, just add more buttered layers. In my opinion you can never have too many thin, crispy, buttery sheets of phyllo.

Melt the remaining 3/4 cup of butter (you may not need this much) in a small sauce pan. Brush a deep dish pie pan with butter. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough in the pan and brush with more melted butter. Butter as far to the edges as you can. Repeat with 6-7 more phyllo sheets, buttering each one. Be sure to not get the phyllo dough wet.

Gently pour the chicken mixture into the prepared pie pan.

Layer another sheet of phyllo dough on top. Brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter. Tuck the edges into the pie pan and butter the edges well. Place in your preheated oven and let bake for 45 minutes. Check it after 30 minutes. If it seems to be browning too quickly, place a sheet of foil on top.

We were having five people over for dinner so now was the time to set the table and prepare the Greek Salad. Garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes…olives and feta…lemon juice and olive oil…

Let the Kotopita rest for 10 minutes before digging in.

Serve with salad…and my favorite Greek wine, Retsina! (an understandably acquired taste!)


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