From Timeslive
By Andrea Nagel
21 June, 2011 21:53


Alexandre Coupy's pie Picture, photo by James Fox

Biarritz is a long way away from Zambia, but Alexandre Coupy, executive chef at The Royal Livingstone Hotel situated in the spray of the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls, doesn’t mind at all.

“Zambia is home for me. My second-born started to walk in Zambia, and the first-born, she started school here,” he said.

Coupy started cooking at 15.

“My family had a restaurant in France, and I always loved the atmosphere in the kitchen.”

For guests at the Livingstone, Coupy creates a varied menu.

“I try to do traditional French dishes, with Zambian ingredients, which are very good.”

A favourite winter dish is a traditional French chicken and mushroom pie made with 25ml butter, 250g sliced fresh mushrooms, 600g deboned chicken and 5ml English mustard, 50ml cake flour, 10ml fresh thyme, 150ml thick cream, 200ml milk, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, 250g defrosted puff pastry and a whisked egg yolk for brushing the top.

Coupy says the oven must be preheated to 190C. Then, melt the butter in a large pan and sauté the mushrooms until brown. The chicken should be cooked with carrots, leeks, onion, a celery branch and thyme in water for about an hour, simmering.

“Then flake the cooked chicken and mix it with the cooked mushroom in the pan,” says Coupy.

“Add the butter and melt it slowly. Then mix in the flour and you’ll get a ‘roux’. Slowly add some of the chicken stock (if you pan-fry the chicken then add milk).

“Add the seasonings. Reduce the heat and stir in the cream and milk, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until the sauce comes to the boil and thickens. Stir continuously.”

Coupy then turns the filling into a 1.2l oven dish.

“On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry until slightly thinner. Cut out a circle of pastry large enough to cover the oven dish, then brush the edges of the oven dish with egg yolk and place the pastry circle on top. Press the edges firmly and brush the top of the pastry with egg yolk.”

Bake the pie for about 35 minutes or until the crust is done and golden brown. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Tip: “You can pan-fry the chicken, but I cook the whole chicken in stock for better flavour. Then you can use the stock for other dishes.”