Guinea Fowl Potpie (or Chicken)
by Cindi Sutter, Founder of The Spirited Table® - Recipe adapted from Annie Wayte, The White Hart, Salisbury, CT
Annie Wayte's cooking is what you wish you could eat every day: It's comforting, satisfying and carried forth with tender love and care, and in the most basic form extremely delicious. Her potpie, which she serves at The White Hart inn in Salisbury, Connecticut, has a velvety touch with light gravy and bits of smoked ham, apple and a few other surprises hidden under a flaky crust.
When poaching the guinea fowl, start with two cups of water and add enough until the poaching liquid covers three-quarters of the bird. And carefully flip the bird a couple of times while it simmers for even cooking. If you can't find a guinea fowl, Wayte recommends substituting a small chicken. She also stresses the importance of seasoning each element on its own—that way, when you mix the filling all together, you aren't worried about under- or overseasoning.
Save yourself assembly time by mixing and rolling out the dough, and poaching and picking the guinea fowl meat up to two days in advance.
To learn more, read "Free Fowlin'."
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
For the Poached Guinea fowl:
One 2½-to-3-pound guinea fowl - or chicken
1 large carrot, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 celery stalks, quartered
1 medium yellow onion, halved
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 thyme sprigs
2 sage sprigs
12 black peppercorns
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
3 cups hard cider
2 to 3 cups cold water
Pinch kosher salt
For the Pastry Crust:
Scant 1⅔ cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted cold butter, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 to 4 Tbsp chilled water
2 Tbsp heavy cream
For the Potpie Filling:
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided, plus more as needed
2 leeks, white parts only, sliced (1½ cups)
Pinch kosher salt and black pepper
2 cups (6 ounces) cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 cup (5 ounces) smoked ham, torn or cut into ½-inch pieces
1 apple—peeled, cored and chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
2½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp heavy cream
- Poach the guinea fowl: In a large pot, combine the ingredients for poaching the guinea fowl. Partially cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and cook at a bare simmer, skimming away scum that rises to the surface, until the fowl is cooked through, 45 minutes. Transfer the fowl to a large bowl and set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the fowl and discard. Tear the meat into bite-size pieces and return them to the large bowl. Cover with a couple tablespoons of stock, so the meat doesn't dry out.
- Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables, and return it to the pot. Place over medium-high heat and boil until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. You should have 5 to 6 cups of stock. Reserve 1¾ cups and keep warm; save the rest for another use. Return the pot to the stove.
- While the fowl is poaching, make the pastry crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of the water. Using a fork, stir until the dough binds together, adding more water as needed. Gather the dough into a loose ball and wrap it in plastic wrap, using the plastic as an aid to tuck and seal the dough into a smooth 4-inch disk. Chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.
- Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375°. Wipe the pot clean and add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the leeks. Place over medium-high heat and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add to the guinea fowl.
- Return the pot to medium-high heat and add 2½ tablespoons of the butter. Add the mushrooms, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté until barely golden brown and most of their liquid has been released, 5 to 7 minutes. Add to the guinea fowl mixture, along with the smoked ham, apple and parsley.
- Wipe out the pot and melt the remaining 2½ tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour, whisking constantly to mix, and cook without browning, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly drizzle in half of the stock, whisking constantly to break up any lumps. Return to medium-high heat and whisk in the remaining stock (it should be boiling pretty rapidly). Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is smooth and thickened and lightly coats the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream; taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Combine the roux and guinea fowl mixture in a deep 9-inch baking dish (or any large oven-safe 6-to-8-quart dish).
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper to a thickness of ⅛ inch. Score an X in the center if you are using a pie steamer. (If you aren't using a pie steamer, transfer the dough as is and score 4 to 6 slits once the pie is crimped.) Lay the pastry on top of the pie filling and wiggle the pie steamer into the scored X. Use a paring knife to cut off the excess dough hanging over the edges of the dish. (Any extra dough can be used for pastry decorations.) Brush the pie with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and bake until the edges are deep golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.
- Baby, it’s cold outside, so why not warm things up, starting with our favorite winter dish? Chicken potpie. Let’s break down why this is the perfect weeknight meal. First, it’s the definition of comfort. Second—now that you’ve practiced for Thanksgiving—your piecrust skills are on point. And, third, it’s guaranteed to warm things up on these cold winter nights.
Passion of the Crust
You probably know by now to use cold ingredients, like chilled butter and shortening, but Curtis-Fawley also recommends popping your flour mixture into the freezer to make sure it stays cold, thus preventing the fat from melting into the dough.
Resting the dough is also key. First, it lets the butter and shortening firm up after softening from the heat of your hands. Second, this is when the dough hydrates, making for a crust that rolls out in one piece without crumbling. This is crucial in a dough like ours, which has chunks of garlic and herbs, and could tear if not properly hydrated.