Chunky Chicken and Apricot Pie

There’s four days of festivities going on in England this weekend.  There’ll be street parties and everything.  Elizabeth II is celebrating having been Queen for 60 years.  Who said jobs for life were a thing of the past?  I guess 60 years deserves at least a 4-day knees-up.  In America that would have earned her a one-year sabbatical at a minimum.  Instead she gets to drive round the Derby race track in a Bentley, whizz up the River Thames on the Royal Barge, and land front row seats at a pop concert where Elton John & Paul McCartney will serenade her.  She’ll get to wear a whole variety of different colored frocks and coats, all with matching hats nestled on her expertly coiffed curls.  Plus nylons and dress shoes.  She’s livin’ the dream.

England’s been on my mind a lot this last week.  My family buried my Uncle and Godfather yesterday, after a short but furious battle with cancer.  I so wish I could have been there with them, especially in support of my mother – she is the last sibling alive now.  When I spoke to her yesterday morning she was very sad.  I wish I could have been there to wipe her tears.

Then, on a very rare foray into Fred Meyer’s today to track down some ground almonds and brandy – neither of which I was able to locate – I stumbled across a small section of shelves stacked with all things British: Bird’s Custard Powder, Heinz Salad Cream ($8.79 a bottle – holy moly, mayonnaise!), Digestive biscuits, Heinz Baked Beans and even boxes of Wine Gums.  HP Sauce, Branston Pickle, OXO cubes, Spotted Dick, Hobnobs and Jacob’s Cream Crackers.  Right there!  In Issaquah!

In this weeks round-up of Britishness, yesterday’s Friday Night Dinner was inspired by the Brits’ love of potato-topped pies.  I grew up eating these English staples, and they still conjure up some of my fondest comfort-food moments.  Fish Pie, Shepherd’s Pie – we top a whole host of savory stuff with mashed potatoes and call it “Pie”.  My friend, Steve – who happens to be a Wolf Handler at a Wolf Sanctuary in England on the weekends – makes the BEST. SHEPHERDS. PIE. EVER.  He always used to tell me that the secret to fabulous mashed potatoes was that you had to go through the pain barrier.  I never argued that point, I just always let him make the mash.  Last time I ate Steve’s mash was on June 9th, 2007.  Yep – it’s that good I even remember {very} clearly the last time I ate it.  We sat in the conservatory and noshed like it was our last meal.  I ate so much mashed potato and steak & kidney pie I thought I might not make it up the stairs to bed that night.  It was awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: These are wolves, not dogs.  Steve is a highly trained, very experienced Wolf Handler.  Wolves are wild, ravenous and extremely dangerous animals.  They could kill you.  Never approach a wolf in the wild, and if you are visiting a sanctuary follow all warnings and instructions given to you by sanctuary personnel.

 

I decided the other day, while dreaming whimsically about potato-topped pies, that I would come up with a SANE* version, for those moments when nothing less than hearty comfort-food would do.  This was a week where comfort food was high on my priority list.  I also wanted to trick Mini-Me into eating something she asserted she hated.  Having got The Hubs to declare a new-found love for cabbage and Brussel sprouts, I determined it was Mini-Me’s turn to be {pleasantly} surprised.

Enter the humble cauliflower.  I’d read several recipes for Mashed Cauliflower here and there, for folks wanting to get the potato rush without the starch-fest and thought I’d try it out on a pie.  The result?  Chunky Chicken and Apricot Pie.  Mini-Me and I were incredulous when The Hubs announced that this was his favorite Friday Night Dinner dish to date.  THE DISH WITHOUT BACON.  Remember – this is the man who thinks bacon is the greatest of God’s creations.  Aside from Mini-Me, of course.  So I’ve got to assume that he really, *really*, REALLY liked this pie.  And Mini-Me?  Mini-Me now likes cauliflower, apparently.  If she doesn’t, she sure ate a lot of it with a big smile on her face last night.

Chunky Chicken and Apricot Pie

I am cringingly aware that this is not the most attractive picture of a pie you’ve ever seen.  I’m working on doing better at shooting casserole type dishes.  Problem is, when I am doing a Friday Night Dinner it’s more about the recipe and the eating than the shooting, and I have people eagerly awaiting their grub, so I don’t have time to get creative or fiddle around.  I’ll get better though.  Promise.

When you bake a mash-potato-topped pie in the oven it browns.  Not so with cauliflower, so I sprinkled almond meal and grated cheddar cheese on the top to give it a nice brown color and crust.  I also added almond meal to the cauliflower to give it more body & a more mash-like texture.  Next time I will use ground almonds, as the almond meal gives it a brown-flecked appearance instead of white like ground almonds would.  Mini-Me and The Hubs thought the almond meal version just looked like the potatoes had been mashed with the skins on.  Your choice entirely.

Chunky Chicken and Apricot Pie with Avocado and Walnut Salad

As there is already technically a side on top of the pie in the form of cauliflower, I served this up simply with a beautiful, fresh, green Avocado and Walnut Salad.  Mini-Me pronounced this her favorite salad since the Friday Night Dinners got under way.  I think it’s just because there was avocado involved.  Mini-Me has an intense and passionate relationship with avocados.

This pie was an enormous hit.  The apricots impart a tangy, citrus-y note and the rosemary reminded everyone of Thanksgiving stuffing.  The Hubs commented that this pie would be awesome shoved inside a turkey and roasted.  It would sure be a SANE™* stuffing.  It’ll be interesting to see what Thanksgiving holds over at Mini-Me and The Hubs house this year.

We were so full of fabulous SANE™* food by the time we finished dinner we all laid on the floor in my family room with “the kids” afterwards.  Seriously filling meal.

My portion control was a bit off and we agreed that this quantity would feed 6 – 8 people.  Mini-Me and The Hubs went home with a Pyrex dish holding enough pie for the their lunch today.  It’s great gently heated in the microwave the next day.  I had it for my lunch too.  So we ate it between 6 of us, but that was really generous portions.

Another plus to this recipe is that you can make it in advance and then just pop it in the oven an hour before you want to serve.  I made this early yesterday morning as Mini-Me and I had planned to spend an hour tidying up the garden before dinner.  I figured I’d pop it in the oven when they arrived and it would be ready when we were done outside.  Turns out the weather was not on the same page and we didn’t get out in the yard, but it did mean I wasn’t madly scrambling around the kitchen trying to get dinner on the table.  Dinner was merrily baking itself in the oven and all I had to do was throw the salad together.  You can even make this pie the day before, cover with plastic wrap and bake the next day.

Chunky Chicken and Apricot Pie = all round awesomeness.

Enjoy!

4.7 from 3 reviews
Chunky Chicken & Apricot Pie
Author: 
Serves: 6 - 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 lb / 900g chicken, cut into large chunks
  • 1 small onion
  • 8 oz. / 225g white mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 oz. / 170g dried apricot pieces, chopped into quarters
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped rosemary
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 cups / ¾ pint chicken stock
  • 1½ tsp. konjac flour / glucomannan powder
  • 2 heads cauliflower, leaves removed, stem and florets chopped into similar sized pieces
  • 2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 2 TBSPp butter
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil.
  2. Add the chicken chunks and cook until lightly browned all over.
  3. In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil.
  4. Add onions and cook until translucent.
  5. Add sliced mushrooms and saute over low heat, turning frequently until they just start to brown.
  6. Add onions and mushrooms to the chicken in the large skillet.
  7. Add the apricots, 1 tbsp chopped rosemary and 2½ cups chicken stock to the chicken and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. In a small bowl, rapidly whisk the konjac flour and remaining ½ cup chicken stock to make a slurry.
  9. Stir the slurry into the chicken mixture until completely mixed through.
  10. Bring the chicken mixture to the boil, stirring constantly.
  11. Turn the heat down and simmer the chicken sauce until thickened, 3 minutes.
  12. Pour chicken mixture into an oven-proof dish or casserole.
  13. Steam the cauliflower pieces until just tender.
  14. Put the cooked cauliflower into a food processor with 2 tsp chopped rosemary, the ground almonds and the butter.
  15. Process until smooth. You can also mash by hand.
  16. Spoon the cauliflower mash over the chicken mixture and spread evenly over the top.
  17. Sprinkle the almond meal and grated Cheddar over the top of the pie.
  18. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees F until the top is golden brown and bubbling, 50 - 60 minutes.

Chunky Chicken and Apricot Pie with Avocado and Walnut Salad

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Justin "The BIG Guy" - I would say this is my favorite meal to date. It was as if I was eating potatos.

Mini-Me - I would have NEVER guessed caluiflower as the topping of this delicious pie! After only having boiled caluiflower as a child, I never would have never guessed that caluiflower could be as delicious as this was!!

Stacy - OMGosh. I just made this recipe and I think I am in love!!! So filling and tasty and SANE! I just discovered SSOS in October and I so excited! I listen to the SSOS podcasts and have completely devoured the SSOS website and now your website. Thank you sharing your Sane recipes and your great commentary. I am not a cook at all, but I was very compelled to try this recipe…and it’s awesome! I have also make the Egg Fritta every day for a week! Yum!!! :)

carrie - Stacy – Isn’t this the most filling thing EVER??! Would love to hear what else you try and love. THANK YOU for swinging by :-))

Cauliflower Cheese » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - […] friend Steve, who lives in England and runs with wolves at the weekends, makes a fantastic Cauliflower Cheese.  […]

Avocado and Walnut Salad » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - […] with all the heavy cream and chocolate was the creation of The Friday Night Dinner.  I made the Chunky Chicken and Apricot Pie early in the day and then whipped up this Avocado and Walnut Salad as Mini-Me and The Hubs […]

Paula - Haven’t made this yet, but just wanted to say that the best way I’ve found so far to do cauli-smash is to cut it up, put in a casserole with a little cream and butter and salt and pepper and microwave it uncovered, stirring every five minutes, until tender (10-15 minutes). Then put it through food processor til smooth. You can add cheese, too, and garlic, if you like. Or whatever else. But this gives the best potatoey mouth feel and texture I’ve found yet.

I made a shepherds pie once with this on top. Put mushrooms and greenbeans in with ground meat and other things I can’t remember right now, and topped with a big thick layer of cheesy cauli-smash. Even had some Dubliner to put over the top. Mmmmmm!!

carrie - Paula – love the microswave idea, but sadly I cannot test it as I am a microwave-free zone :-( That Shepherds pie sounds FAB!!

matilda - I have had this recipe on my list of “Carrie Recipe’s to make” for like ages.
tonight I made it.
Ok so I had to half the recipe cause well it will only be feeding me and 2 kids who don’t eat as much as I do. That and they care like the fussy kids on the planet (but aren’t most kids) when it come to trying new things.
Master M loved it, he even asked for 2nds (he didn’t have 2nd cause well he was full by the time he finished it).
Miss K happened to get the piece that I swear had all the mushrooms in it, so she picked them all ate and ate most of it.
So success! I was really impressed with it and will be making it again.
Oh I should note I didn’t have any apricots, but the recipie still worked out awesome.

carrie - Hurrah, Matilda, hurrah! But do try it with the apricots next time – it’s really delicious!

Spiced Cauliflower Soup » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] are in a *SANE world.  Cauliflower that thinks it’s rice.  Cauliflower that masquerades as mashed potatoes.  Cauliflower swathed in cheese sauce.  Cauliflower that makes soup all kinds of creamy.  It […]

Christina W - It was absolutely a keeper recipe! Even my carb loving husband said there were few things he had tasted that were better than this :-). My only problem was I wasn’t sure what to sub for konjac since I didn’t have any on hand, I used a mix of almond flour and coconut flour and it didn’t thicken the sauce enough. doing a search online I am not sure where is a good source to get Konjac flour? Any suggestions?

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