Citizens, Kurnik is a delicious and memorable dish of Russia, laden with chicken, mushrooms, herbs and a range of foods that were highly symbolic to the Russian people during their most important celebrations.
As noted on http://russianfoods.com/en/kurnik-chicken-pie/:
Kurnik is a Russian chicken pot pie, made with at least three fillings layered inside the dough. It was the dish of honor at most traditional Russian weddings. The symbolism of ingredients can be appreciated even today.
A display of wealth and prosperity, each ingredient also smothered in deliciously symbolic meaning. Chicken and eggs were thought to bring fertility, while flour and grain provided a solid ground for the couple to build a family.
Kurniks were baked separated for the bride and groom. In the bride’s home, the wedding pie was decorated with small figurines as a nod to a large future family. While the groom’s pie was adorned with flowers as a symbol of a cheerful and happy life.
The layers inside were another testament to a family’s financial status. Wealthy and noble families used rice and mushrooms, as well as fresh eggs and chicken. While those of more modest means used buckwheat or other grains and root vegetables.
To adorn the pie, pastry figurines were used. Blinis separated the layers inside, serving as a barrier to preserve the flavors, and as a symbol of the sun.
My version is very traditional and made as a member of the Russian nobility would have enjoyed it – using imported and rare Madeira for added flavor and as a means to impress guests of honor!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 12 oz. cream cheese
- 1 ½ cups butter
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tbsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cup milk
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Butter or Lard for frying
- Chicken Filling:
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large leek, white part only, cut in ½ lengthwise and dirt rinsed out from the layers, then chopped (TFD change, use another ½ large yellow onion to be traditional)
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 1 small bunch parsley
- 3 celery ribs
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Mushroom filling:
- 1 lb fresh brown mushrooms
- 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup Madeira
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. butter
- Rice filling:
- 2 cups uncooked rice, boiled in 4 cups of water until tender, mixed with: 2 tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon, 1 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
- ¼ cup butter
- White Sauce:
- Mushroom soaking liquid
- Chicken poaching liquid
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
- Egg wash:
- 1 egg yolk (+2 tbsp milk)
- Pastry: Cream the butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the dry ingredients. Form into 2 disks and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Blinis: To make the blinis: In a blender, combine all ingredients (except butter or lard) and blend until smooth.
- In a crepe pan over medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter or lard to coat the pan evenly. Lift the pan at a slight angle and pour 2 tablespoons of the batter into the center, tilting the pan to spread the batter to the edges.
- Return the pan to the heat and cook until the blini is golden underneath, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the blini over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat to make 6-8 crepes.
- Mushroom Filling: Rinse the dried mushrooms then submerge them in the Madeira, topped up with 1 cup of hot water. Let stand for at least 20 minutes. Strain the juice through a paper towel and reserve the liquid.
- Sauté the fresh mushrooms in 1 tbsp. of butter and a good glug of Madeira until they leach their liquid and re-absorb it. Add a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp. heavy cream. Toss with the reconstituted dried mushrooms.
- Chicken Filling: Sauté the chopped onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil until soft. Set aside. Bring the white wine, plus 2 cups of water, one celery rib and parsley to a simmer, then poach the chicken breasts for 9 to 11 minutes. Reserve the liquid.
- Place the chicken inside the standing mixer with the paddle attachment and process on medium to shred the chicken. Combine the chicken with the onions/carrot mixture and toss with tarragon.
- Make a white sauce with the combined poaching and mushroom liquids, adding heavy cream and a pinch of cayenne pepper to finish. Toss with the chicken mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Separate the pastry for the pie into two unequal parts and leave a piece the size of an egg separately. Roll the largest piece out to a thickness of 5-8 mm (¼”), place a blini in the middle and spread half of the rice filling on top. Cover with a pancake and spread with the chicken filling. Cover it with another pancake and repeat the layers separating them with blinis.Insert the hard-boiled eggs, yolk side up in a decorative pattern on the top.
- Cover the pie with the second half of the dough having rolled it out and pinch the edges. Make a hole in the top.
- From ⅔ of the remaining dough, make a ball and cover the hole with it. Roll the final piece of dough thinly and cut out pastry decorations. Stick these to the pie using a mixture of the egg yolk beaten with milk. Cut a slit in the top to let steam escape.
- Brush with remaining egg wash (make more if needed). Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and continue until the crust is golden brown. Let stand for 20 minutes then serve.
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