Friday, January 7, 2011

Hancock Shaker Village's Sister Clymena's Chicken Pie

I wonder if, at the time Hewlett got this recipe, there were still Shakers at Hancock Shaker Village. Hancock Shaker Village is in the Berkshires, in Hancock in fact. It's an interesting place to visit. All the buildings are intact and the people who run it do things like breeding the cattle back to obtain the 19th century breeds. This was not a place we visited as children. In fact, other than Mount Everett, where we went for a picnic every summer, we didn't visit anyplace in Berkshire County. My sister got taken to New York City for plays, but I, insular little tyke that I was, decided that if she liked the theatre, I, by God, would not like it. So, since I didn't like what I had never seen, I missed out on the great theatrical productions of the 1960s like My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music.
Once I got my driver's license and a car, I went all over Berkshire County, aided and abetted by my boyfriend, who was hot to see historic houses, go to the theatre and see all the places he had read about. We went to Shaker Village. I remember talking to a woman who did cooking demonstrations. She cooked on a wood stove and gauged the heat by sticking her hand in the oven. She said at the beginning, she made the stove way too hot and burned everything, but after a while, she got a sense of what was the right temperature. The Shakers ate very well, she said. Even if they abstained from sex, they didn't abstain in other areas. This recipe proves that Sister Clymena did all right by her contemporaries, who, when they chowed down at those long tables, ate a very good pie.
I made this on a weeknight. I would advise cooking the chicken and pulling it off the bones ahead of time. I just cooked it, pulled it and baked it, which meant we ate late. We do not, or did not, three days ago, own a pie plate that doesn't have an ominous looking crack in it. So I made it in a souffle dish and just draped the pastry over it. The pastry is a whole other story, which you may read about in the post No Fail Pastry. I have no idea what chervil is, or where they sell it.

Hancock Shaker Village's Sister Clymena's Chicken Pie

2 three pound chickens, quartered
2 cups water
3 eggs well beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 small onion, minced
4 sprigs parsley minced
4 sprigs chervil, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pastry for a deep two-crust ten inch pie

1. Place the chickens in a kettle and add the water. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer thirty minutes. Remove meat from bones, but leave in large pieces. Discard bones and skin. Reserve chicken liquid. Place chicken meat in a bowl.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Combine the eggs and cream. Add the onions, parsley chervil, salt and pepper. Add enough hot chicken liquid to cream and egg mixture to cover chicken pieces. Combine chicken and sauce.
4. Butter a deep ten-inch pie dish well and line bottom and sides with rolled out pastry. Fill with chicken mixture and cover with top crust, cutting small vents for steam. Bake one half hour.
Makes four to six servings.

1 comment:

  1. Chervil is an herb, kind of like a cross between parsley, cilantro and rosemary. Not a really strong taste. You should be able to find it with the herbs in the produce section of the market, or at least dried if you can't get it fresh.
    I've had really good Shaker food at Pleasant Hill Village in Kentucky.