The Canadian Maritimes are justifiably proud of their Acadian culture, which dates back to the early 17th century. That’s when French settlers began inhabiting Nova Scotia and New Brunswick during the rise of the American Revolution. And in hopes of preserving their French culture, they brought their traditional celebrations to their new North American home.
One of these celebrations was Christmas Eve—and more importantly, Midnight Mass. It was customary to celebrate after Mass with a midnight supper, full of delicious recipes, including two traditional meat and potato recipes: rappie pie (a potato and meat casserole) and Fricot aux Poutines Râpée (chicken stew with potato dumplings).
These traditional dishes incorporated much more meat than was normally used in daily Acadian cooking—and their use of potatoes reflected the agricultural heritage of the Acadians.
Here, one of our Program Directors from Grand Circle’s Nova Scotia & the Canadian Maritimes vacation, Wayne Bennett, shares his recipes for Acadia’s traditional rappie pie and Fricot aux Poutines Râpée.
Traditional rappie pie was originally invented during the starch-making process—and as a result of Acadians’ frugality. Acadians didn’t want to waste the water squeezed from potatoes, so they let it sit in a bowl until the starch settled at the bottom. Rather than waste the remaining potatoes, Acadians created rappie pie.
5-6 lbs. chicken
20 lbs. potatoes
2 medium onions
Salt and pepper to taste
Note: You’ll need a grater and cloth bag sturdy enough to allow the water and starch to be squeezed through.
- Cut up chicken, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside.
- Add finely chopped onions, salt, and pepper to the chicken that has been set aside.
- Peel, wash, and grate potatoes, noting how many you have in your pan.
- Squeeze potatoes (in a cloth bag—about two cups at a time) until pretty dry. Pack potatoes in a bowl.
- When potatoes are all squeezed, loosen the packed potatoes in a large pan. Add boiling broth from the chicken gradually, stirring slowly.
- If there’s not enough broth, add boiling water until you have as much potato mixture as before they were squeezed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Grease a 17 x 12-inch pan. Spread half of the potatoes into the pan. Distribute chicken evenly over this, and then cover with the rest of the potato mixture.
- Bake at 400°F for two hours.
- The pie should be brown and crusty. (If chicken is too lean, melt a piece of pork fat and add to the potato mixture.)
Servings: Serves approximately 20
Fricot aux Poutines Râpée (Chicken Stew with Potato Dumplings)
Generally, this dish is a chicken stew with potato dumplings, however the ingredients of the fricot may vary depending on the region of the dish.
1 large chicken (approximately 5 lbs.)
1 cup chopped onions
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cubed potatoes
Poutines Râpée, or potato dumplings (recipe below)
- Boil the chicken with chopped onions in a large amount of water to yield enough broth for soup.
- When cooked, remove the meat from the chicken bones and set aside. Add approximately four cups of cubed potatoes to the broth and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
- At this point, add chicken meat to the broth with the poutines râpées (find recipe below).
- Simmer covered for approximately 12 minutes (do not lift cover during this period).
- Season to taste.
Servings: About 8-10 servings
*Poutines Râpée (Potato Dumplings)
½ lb. fatty, salted pork
10 uncooked potatoes
4 potatoes (cooked, mashed, and seasoned with salt and pepper)
- Soak the salted pork in water overnight in order to rid the meat of excess salt. Cut into cubes.
- Grate the uncooked potatoes and remove water by squeezing them through a cloth bag.
- Mix the grated potatoes with mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Scoop a handful of the mashed potatoes and roll into a ball until it resembles a small snowball. Make a hole in the center of this potato ball and place a tablespoon of the salted pork in the center. Close the hole.
- Roll each potato ball in white flour and gently place in a large pot filled with boiling salt water.
- Keep the water boiling and simmer the potato dumplings for two to three hours.
- Add to chicken stew recipe (found above).
Servings: Makes six potato dumplings
Enjoy traditional Acadian dishes like these on our Nova Scotia & the Canadian Maritimes vacation.