My two sisters are as passionate about food as I am. It’s in our DNA. On visits to my home town of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, we cooked for each other and we cook together. It is a marvellous way to spend your vacation.
My older sister, Mona, has what is known as “a dab hand with pastry”. She has a special marble counter exactly the right height for rolling pastry. She uses lard for all her pies – sweet and savoury. Her pastry is so light so flaky it literally drifts on to your plate. She keeps everything chilled. Even her flour. In her opinion using a pie bird is the secret for tender pastry for chicken pot pipe.
We were making chicken pot pie. My sister putting the chicken filling together and rolling out pastry.. My job – to make the béchamel sauce. The sauce that binds. To add extra flavour to the chicken pot pie I used rich chicken stock instead of milk and made it extra thick. After it was cooked I thinned it with a generous amount of cream. You do know I have a reputation for gilding the lily.
The pie bird was positioned in the centre of the filling. On went the pasty with a slit cut for the bird. The edges were crimped. A little egg wash and the crust was sprinkled with coarse sea salt. The pie bird vents excess moisture from the pie filling (whether it is chicken and vegetables or fresh fruit), and prevents a soggy pie crust . These ceramic birds are available in most well stocked kitchen shops.
Now you know my older sister Mona’s secret for amazing pie crust . A trick to use the next time you make a juicy fruit or chicken pot pie. Tell your friends “a little bird told you”!