Growing up in Bermuda Christmas didn’t feel completely like Christmas until I smelled the Farine Pie baking in the oven. Yes… I watched my mom prepare it but until the house was inundated with the delightful smell of Farine it wasn’t quite Christmas yet.
For years I was intimidated by this traditional Christmas Pie. My mom’s pie is sooooo good that there was no way I could even come close. I was even intimidated by the whole process. It seemed that she put so much work into it. There are recipes online, but I would ask her every year for hers. And in the beginning I would mess it up. I mean, it would taste good – but it wouldn’t taste like HERS.
I gave up. My mom had that “mom” touch. I began to think that it was just as important to keep that Bermudian tradition going with MY pie. I had to realize that my pie still tasted good. It was her recipe but just me making it. I also had to realize that she had been making this pie for years and her mom for years before her. I knew that with time, my pie would taste like hers. But even if it didn’t – it was still delicious. I guess I want to relive that Christmas morning feel, when I was a child – waking up to Farine Pie for breakfast, with fried ham and turkey – and Chow Chow Sauce. But again, I was giving this to my family even though it wasn’t my mom baking it – so I was indeed succeeding with my Farine Pie and the tradition it holds.
Farine is a root vegetable and looks like a course flour. It is called YUCCA in America, it also known as Cassava. Some people in Bermuda make a Cassava Pie instead of Farine, Cassava pie is made using the farine (or yucca) in it a wet state. Farine pie is made using the vegetable in its dried form. Mix this with sugar and eggs and spices and you have a pie. Now when I say pie, some folks get confused because this in no way looks like a pie. It more or less looks like a dry cake baked in a baking dish – a cake with a layer of chicken in the middle. Yes.. chicken. No.. not a chicken pot pie.. It’s like a chicken cake in a pan.
Confused more? See picture below...
Now hopefully the pictures make it clear. This is not a pie – not a traditional chicken pie. And it isn’t savory or sweet, it is both. Trust me, it is delicious. It’s even delicious when you fry it up for breakfast in a pan with a little oil - just until the edges are golden brown and crispy.
I was contacted by Bermuda Bliss Magazine to do a tradition Bermuda Christmas recipe and chose to submit Farine Pie as I have been meaning to add this to my blog. Please visit Bermuda Bliss Magazine to subscribe and enjoy reading about the many wonders of my small beautiful island. It’s a good thing that now I have it online as I won’t pester my mom to send it to me every year. But, it may serve me well just to keep asking her for it every year, since we are talking tradition here .
Bermuda Christmas Farine Pie
Adapted from: my mom, Patricia Raynor
4 to 5lbs chicken
4 cups farine
2 1/2 cups sugar
14 eggs - room temperature
6 sticks of unsalted butter - room temperature
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup condensed milk mixed with 1 cup water
1 to 2 cups reserved chicken stock
Soak farine overnight with enough of the milk and water solution to dampen farine. Mix should have a large crumb like texture when soaking. Do not over saturate farine.
Boil Chicken. Once Chicken has cooled remove the bones from the chicken and shred the meat with a fork, or chopped and set aside. Reserve chicken broth. - For convienence you can buy a rotisserie chicken and chicken broth - if you want to cut time, I won't tell and neither will those who eat it. :)
Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9x13 pan - A 2 inch deep pan is fine but I suggest using a 3 inch deep pan if you want deeper layers.
Cream butter and sugar with the mixer's paddle attachment on medium speed. Cream for 5 minutes. This process is important as it incorporates air and results in a creamy and fluffy base for the rest of your ingredients.
Add salt, nutmeg and vanilla and mix till just incorporated.
Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and gradually add to creamed sugar and butter. Take your time with this process and ensure proper incorporation after each addition of whisked eggs. After all eggs are added mixture will look curdled - this is normal.
Slowly add your farine to wet ingredients on low to medium mixer speed. Be sure to incorporate the farine with the wet ingredients well.
Pour half of the batter into pan and smooth it out. I like to have approximately an inch of batter on each farine layer.
Spread chicken on top of the farine layer.
Next, add the remaining batter on top of your chicken layer and smooth to cover. If you add the batter it in large spoonfuls over the chicken layer, it makes it easier to spread without disturbing the pie's under layers. Just gently join the spoonfuls of batter together with a motion like you are frosting a cake.
Poke a few holes into the pie batter and pour some of the reserved chicken stock on pie. Be careful not to over fill.
Bake for 2 1/2 hours.
Enjoy with your favorite Chow Chow Piccalilli Relish!
Additional Tips: On the oven rack under the pie, place a pan filled halfway with water that is large enough to cover more then circumference of the pie. This will prevent your oven from smoking if some of the yummy broth spills over the sides of the pan. Also optional is to reduce the temperature of the oven to 325° after an hour and a half of baking at 350°. This prevents pie from over browning.