If you listened to my interview on Calgary Business Podcast, I was talking about my time in New Zealand and how I liked their unique Cranberry Chicken Camembert pie. The host, Allen Wazny, jokingly mentioned that I was gonna make one. Well, even though he wasn't serious, I was on the hook since it went public!
While I lived in Auckland, there were lots of meat pies to choose from and they were so common that they were available at corner stores. Many of the shops I went to was a stop-and-go with perhaps a bench or two to dine in. The Cranberry Chicken Camembert pie was common and it stood out for me. The tartiness of the juicy cranberries only to be combined with the creaminess of the camembert was comforting. I had to try this at home!
Fast-forward to 2020 and the podcast was the last push I needed to make it happen.
I use brie because my supplier doesn't carry Camembert but reading the differences online, it seemed like they can be swapped as they have very subtle differences. Besides, Cranberry Chicken Brie is a recipe from the UK, so it should work right?
The thought pattern was simple enough: make a roux with butter and flour; then mix in with milk to turn into a Béchamel; and finally add in brie to make it a Brie Mornay. There's your base! Now for the cranberries... Should I turn it into a sauce and mix in with the brie sauce? Should I mix the base with cranberries on the outside? After 5 attempts, it's a combination of both.
Cranberries are so tart but what surprised me was that the brie sauce was able to offset it. In my experiments, I used a lot of cranberries in the base but the flavour was barely noticeable. Having cranberries on the outside allowed the fruit to shine, just like how chocolate chips would in a Chocolate Chip cookie versus melting the chocolate and incorporating in the dough.
So why mix some cranberries in the base then? Two reasons: the colour and the link. The pink colour filling makes the pie look unique. What I mean by the link is that if you have just the Brie Mornay with cranberries on the outside, it would be very black and white as you would only notice the fruit in some bites. Having that link (grey area) binds the cranberries and brie together nicely and thus, creates harmony especially when encased in a tender, flaky butter crust! Try it out and let me know what you think!
I'm glad Allen Wazny unintentionally pushed me to make this pie as it was sitting in the back of mind for a while. Sometimes we need to be shoved into the pool to learn how to swim.
Corey Ma, The Pie Guy