A simple cheesy chicken pie to impress the family

Lilly Higgins: A tasty mix of a traditional spinach pie with cheese-laced chicken pie

 

I usually have to resort to marketing hype when I’m trying to get my kids to eat new foods. Popeye always gets an honourable mention where spinach is involved. I reiterate how amazingly healthy and iron rich it is, fuelling their sports and play. You would think they would be immune to incessant food chat but they can’t get enough and soak it up like little trifle sponges.

Greek mythology got a mention at our dinner table this week with two Greek legends colliding – when spanakopita meets kotopita! That’s this pie, a mix of the traditional Greek spinach pie with the cheese-laced chicken pie.

There are countless pies in Greek cuisine, ranging from the triple cheese packed tyropita to carbohydrate packed pasta and rice pies. Almost all use eggs and cheese as binding ingredients and filo pastry to encase it all.

I have no problem with buying good quality filo pastry. It’s tricky to make your own. If that’s the only processed element of my family dinner then that’s fine. Pies are such a useful food for families and for feeding a crowd. They can be prepped ahead of time and are perfect for portion control, cutting into neat slices and serving with vegetables or salad. 

The traditional kotopita involves poaching a whole chicken with onions. Then the chicken is stripped down and chopped and the sweet onions diced. It creates a gelatinous sauce and is full of flavour, but it is a labour of love.

This recipe is the ideal way to use up leftover chicken. Anytime we have a roast, I freeze the leftovers for adding to stir fries or curries. It’s so convenient and cuts down on food waste.

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You can easily make this pie vegetarian by doubling the amount of spinach and adding a handful of olives or semi sundried tomatoes instead of the chicken. Sauteed thickly cut mushrooms would be delicious too. I’ve always found spanakopita to be too spinach packed, so I like to break it up with little pops of flavour. The dill is entirely optional here. When seasoning this pie there’s no need to add salt as the feta is plenty salty enough.

This recipe can easily be doubled in size too, it’s a recipe that works well when scaled up. Serve with a simple tomato salad or mashed potato. 

GREEK CHICKEN PIE

Serves four

Ingredients
200g spinach
150g feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, whisked
1 tbsp dried or fresh dill
Black pepper
100g butter
250g filo pastry 
200g leftover roast chicken, sliced
1 tsp sesame seeds for scattering on top

Method

1 Preheat an oven to 180 degrees Celsius, or equivalent. 

2 Place the spinach in a pan with a few tablespoons of boiling water. Cook over a high heat till wilted and cooked. Drain in a sieve over the sink, removing as much moisture as possible.

3 Roughly chop the cooled spinach and place in a bowl along with the crumbled feta, whisked egg, dill and season with plenty black pepper. Mix well till combined. 

4 Brush a 10-inch by eight-inch pie dish with some melted butter and lay one sheet of filo pastry on the bottom. Brush this with butter and repeat the process again with five more sheets. Spread half the spinach mix on the base. Top with the sliced chicken then dot the remaining spinach mix over. Top this with a few layers of buttered pastry.

5 Fold over the overhanging pastry sides and crimp it all together. Score the top of the pie using a sharp knife. Brush with any remaining butter and scatter with sesame seeds.

6 Bake for 30 minutes, till golden. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve with a green salad or mashed potato.

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