Lavash, chicken & herb pie with barberries
A really lovely summery recipe from Olia Hercules most recent book Kaukasis.
You may have seen Olia on Saturday Kitchen or Sunday Brunch - she's a young, beautiful and hugely talented Ukrainian-born chef and cookery writer. I love her food because it contains recipes and ingredients you never find in restaurants or, indeed at friends' houses - but they can be at yours!
The only thing you need to bear in mind about this ridiculously good pie is that it's not nearly big enough! The book says it's enough for six which I can only imagine is the case if you are having a massive Armenian feast. Three of us made short work of it so I would make at least double.
You also need barberries, lavash and a LOT of herbs so plan ahead and make something else from the book to use them up - or the fabulous tomato, cucumber and radish salad from Olia's first book Mamushka which is also excellent.
I've added my notes to Olia's instructions.
Olia writes: "This is an extremely simple dish, taught to me by an Armenian friend, and one of the best ways to turn chicken leftovers into something mind-blowing, although it would be totally worth poaching a whole chicken just to make this."
Serves 6 (though I'd make double for this number!)
100g (3½oz) Homemade matsoni (the recipe for which is in the book) or natural yogurt
2 garlic cloves, grated
a pinch of saffron threads (optional but I used them, warming them in a metal measuring cup first then crumbling them into the yoghurt)
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried barberries (or sultanas)
200g (7oz) poached chicken meat, torn into chunks
1 tablespoon chopped spring onions
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
50g (1¾oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 large piece of Armenian or Persian lavash (or any other thin flatbread)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (or sesame, pumpkin or linseed)
sea salt flakes
Mix the yogurt, garlic, saffron, cayenne and barberries together, then add the chicken, spring onions and herbs. Season well with salt and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Grease a shallow 15 x 20cm (6 x 8 inch) baking dish with some of the melted butter.
Place one layer of lavash in the dish, brush with melted butter then spread over the filling. Cover with another layer of lavash (tear it to fit). Brush with melted butter and sprinkle over the seeds.
Bake for 15 minutes until heated through, the top is golden and the seeds are toasted. (I found it took slightly longer than this - about 25 minutes - to brown the top)
Tip This is a perfect way in which to use up leftover cooked chicken (and Christmas turkey I'd have thought) But it is also a great way to use up stale flatbreads; because you cover them with butter and the filling is so moist, the flatbreads revive beautifully in the oven.
What to drink: We drank a light Sicilian red called Frappato but other light fruity reds like Beaujolais or Chinon or even a dry rosé would work too.
Extracted from Kaukasis which is published by Mitchell Beazley at £25.
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