David Bauer is the owner of Farm&Sparrow Bakery, just outside of Asheville, NC . Farm&Sparrow bakes naturally-leavened breads and seasonal pastries in a wood-fired brick oven. Most of the flour is milled on-site from organic heirloom varieties of wheat, rye, and corn. Visit Farm and Sparrow or see us on Facebook.
I live in Candler, NC just outside of the city of Asheville where I operate a wood-fired bakery and grow some food, including chickens. This pie came into being sort of spontaneously. Local Pie historian and author Barbara Swell was hosting her annual pie competition. Being a professional baker, I enjoy this event because it is a chance to make some interesting pie that would not normally fly with the average customer. This one flew at the pie party and we took home grand prize. Aside from being eye-catching and nightmare inducing, it is a really good pie that highlights some of the finest summertime ingredients in the southern Appalachian Mountains; chicken, okra, peppers, beans, pie.
When I butcher chickens, I leave the feet on and cook them with the bird. They are hard to eat but there is plenty of flavor in them so why waste it. If you are using your own bird, obviously, you’ll want to scrub the feet thoroughly before cooking. If you are purchasing the chicken from a local butcher or farmer, you should be able to specially request that the feet be left on or that you receive a set of chicken feet with your bird. I suggest finding a heritage bird for this pie. They have more fat and darker, juicier meat. Some of the modern lean birds could come out dry even after an all-night stewing.
Keep reading for the recipe…
Chicken Upside Down Pie
Crust: Flakier the Better
1 ½ lbs. Pastry Flour (preferably stone-ground but white will do)
1 # Butter
½ # Cold Water
¼ oz. sea salt
Pulse the Flour, Butter, and Salt in a food processor briefly until the butter is in pea sized chunks. As you pour in the water, quickly incorporate it into the dough. Turn the =mix out into a bowl and pack it together with your hands. Turn it out onto a surface. Roll it out to a ¼ inch thick rectangle. Visually divide it into 3rds and fold it onto itself. Repeat twice. You should see the butter streaking out in the dough. This will make it flaky.
After last fold, wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour or up to a day.
1 whole chicken
1 pair of chicken feet, claws and all (if not still attached to the chicken)
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
6 garlic cloves
2 small bunches parsley
6 Red Peppers, diced (we use an old pepper called a Jimmy Nardello pepper)
1 lb. of Okra chopped (you can also substitute any vegetables you like)
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 can of Lima or cannellini beans or equivalent of home-cooked beans.
Cut 6 slits into your chicken and insert the garlic cloves. Rub the chicken all over with the oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Stuff one bunch of parsley entirely into the cavity. Put the chicken in your crock pot on low heat w/ ½ cup water and let it slowly cook all night at least 12 hours.
When it is done, let the chicken cool a bit and then pull off all the meat into a separate bowl. If feet are on the chicken, remove at the knee and save. (If your chicken feet came separately, toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in your oven for 30 minutes) Everything else can be saved to make stock.
Chop the Swiss chard into fine ribbons and mix in with the chicken while it is still warm. Drain the beans and add them to the mix.
Sauté the peppers and okra briefly over high heat to pre-cook them and then mix these in with the chicken and chard. Chop up the other bunch of parsley and add to the mix. Allow it all to cool.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees . Remove top rack, leaving only your lowest oven shelf.
Prepare a 10” cast iron pan or pie dish by rubbing it with butter. Divide your crust in half and roll out into two circles, 15” wide. Place one round into your pan, press it tightly all around, and let it chill for 15 minutes. Then spoon your filling into the shell and place your other round over the top to seal it in.
Now, using a knife, cut 2 small slits into the top of your shell. Insert the chicken feet, ankle first, into the filling. Press the surrounding crust gently onto the legs so they remain vertical.
2 egg yolks
A splash of half and half.
Whisk wash together with a fork and brush onto the crust. Bake at 425degrees for 45 minutes or until your crust is deep golden and crisp all over.
Let cool. Freak someone out. Enjoy the pie.