Recipe Polvorosa de Pollo (Venezuelan Chicken Crumble pie)

karadekoolaid

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This recipe is a wonderful example of the Caribbean, Spanish, English and French influences on Venezuelan cuisine. It is also one of the most popular recipes in the country. Given the complexity of the recipe, it must have been invented by a chef who was manically meticulous, insane, drunk, or all three. Irrelevant, perhaps, because it is absolutely delicious.
Ingredients ( serves 8-10)
  • For the crumble topping
    • 250 gms unsalted butter
    • 500 gms all purpose flour
    • 100 gms caster sugar
    • 1 tbsp baking powder
    • 1 large whole egg and 2 yolks
  • For the chicken
    • 2 whole chicken breasts ( around 800 - 900 gms)
    • 1 onion, cut into 4
    • 3-4 whole cloves garlic
    • 2-3 leeks, roughly chopped
    • 4-5 spring onions
    • 2 tsps salt
    • Enough water to cover ( about 1 litre)
  • For the sauce
    • olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely diced
    • 1-2 leeks, finely diced
    • 3-4 spring onions, finely diced
    • 1 large red pepper, finely diced
    • 5-6 ají dulce ( sweet chiles - see note below*), finely diced
    • 6-8 ripe tomatoes, diced
    • 2 tbsps piccalilli (chow-chow)
    • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 tbsps sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 3/4 cup red wine
    • 3/4 cup raisins
    • 15 pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped
    • 1/4 cup capers, chopped
* Ají dulce is a sweet chile pepper available in Venezuela and Colombia. If you can´t find it, use the mildest chile pepper you can find.

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, flour, sugar and baking powder until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough.
  2. Now add the eggs and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Put the dough into a bag, flatten it out and place in the fridge.
  3. In a large pan, bring the water to a boil and add the onion, garlic, leeks, spring onions and salt. Now add the chicken breasts and lower the heat to medium. Cook the chicken until tender.
  4. Remove the chicken breasts and allow to cool. Strain the stock, set aside and discard the vegetables.
  5. Gently heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, leeks, spring onions, pepper and ají dulce. Cook gently ( about 15-20 minutes) until soft.
  6. Now add the tomatoes and cook gently until well done, about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Shred the chicken breast with your fingers and add it to the vegetables, along with the stock, salt and pepper, piccalilli, Worcestershire sauce and sugar. Cook gently for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the stock has almost gone. It needs to be moist, but not dry.
  8. Now add the red wine, raisins, olives and capers. Cook for another 10 minutes. The filling should be sweet, juicy and just slightly acidic.
  9. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  10. Divide the pastry into two parts, one slightly bigger than the other. Roll out the smaller part and line an ovenproof dish (pyrex) with the pastry, pushing it up the sides of the dish.
  11. Put the filling into the dish, spreading evenly. Now roll out the rest of the pastry and carefully cover the dish, Tuck in the excess pastry with a knife so that the "pie" is completely covered. Prick several times with a fork.
  12. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the "pie" is browned.
Serve yourself a large glass of wine, or whatever your favourite tipple is, because you´ve just completed a labour of love!
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Morning Glory

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Fascinating! There is certainly a lot going on here. I was surprised by the sugar in the recipe. Maybe the sweetness is offset by the capers, olives and piccalilli?
 

karadekoolaid

Active Member
Joined
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Local time
10:29 AM
Messages
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Caracas, Venezuela
Fascinating! There is certainly a lot going on here. I was surprised by the sugar in the recipe. Maybe the sweetness is offset by the capers, olives and piccalilli
The mixture of sweet ( as in sugar, or raw cane sugar) and acidic is very common in Venezuelan ( and a lot of Caribbean) cookery. Plantains, sweet potato, sweetcorn, etc. are big ingredients in a Venezuelan diet. There´s a delicious breakfast "pancake" make with sweetcorn kernels and served with cheese - it´s called a "cachapa". There´s another dish called "Pastel de Chucho" - manta ray wings, tiny bananas and bechamel sauce, baked in the oven. I think it´s a question of overcoming taste barriers.
Not to everyone´s taste, especially European visitors: my brother ( who was an executive chef for the National Trust) ate everything I gave him - except the cachapas! But hey - you´ve got American pancakes with maple syrup and bacon... :laugh:
 

karadekoolaid

Active Member
Joined
4 Aug 2021
Local time
10:29 AM
Messages
520
Location
Caracas, Venezuela
...And yes - the piccalilli, olives and capers balance out the sweetness. A lot of Indian and Indonesian recipes ( Prawn patia, Himalayan sweet/sour aubergines, Indonesian Rudjak) use sweet, sour, acid and spice.
 

Morning Glory

Obsessive cook
Staff member
Joined
19 Apr 2015
Local time
2:29 PM
Messages
40,799
Location
Maidstone, Kent, UK
The mixture of sweet ( as in sugar, or raw cane sugar) and acidic is very common in Venezuelan ( and a lot of Caribbean) cookery. Plantains, sweet potato, sweetcorn, etc. are big ingredients in a Venezuelan diet. There´s a delicious breakfast "pancake" make with sweetcorn kernels and served with cheese - it´s called a "cachapa". There´s another dish called "Pastel de Chucho" - manta ray wings, tiny bananas and bechamel sauce, baked in the oven. I think it´s a question of overcoming taste barriers.
Not to everyone´s taste, especially European visitors: my brother ( who was an executive chef for the National Trust) ate everything I gave him - except the cachapas! But hey - you´ve got American pancakes with maple syrup and bacon... :laugh:

I'm not at all averse to sweet, sour, acid and spice and very often use use that combo. I think it was the fact that its a savoury chicken pie and the pastry is sweet that I found unusual. Here are a few examples of stuff I've done which uses sweet, sour, spice etc. I did a search of my recipes using the terms and there are dozens!

Recipe - Chicken and sweet potato curry
Recipe - Black Pudding, Confit Apple and Rhubarb Ketchup with Black Pastry Shards
Recipe - Greengage, Feta & Honey Tart

I like the sound of that ray wing dish.
 
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