OK so this one is for Shaila who asked for a vegan recipe for Christmas day. She will pass it on to Gav to work his magic! This is a take on a pork pie of course, except it is nothing of the sort. Instead it is a pie suitable for vegans and vegetarians. And carnivores come to that. I’ve made it three times now, each with different fillings. I’ll offer the alternatives later.
This is what David has ordered for Christmas lunch.
The pastry is of the hot water crust variety and is as easy as wink to make. The knack is to mould it whilst it is still warm, which rather goes against all the rules – unless you are making hot water crust pastry. The clue is in the title! You don’t need a hi-falootin’ pie tin with springform sides, so if you don’t possess one (I don’t) then this shouldn’t put you off. I’ve used a jam jar (too slippery), a mug (handle got in the way) but found in the end that a stainless steel ring-form worked perfectly. More of this later.
The filling is easy too, wintery and warming, fragrant with garlic and sage wafting out the steam hole! It is rare for me to give precise ingredients and proportions on this blog but to get it right, this time it’s necessary. Let’s get started.
First make the filling. You can make this in advance so that it is cold when you fill the pies. For four pies you will need:
180g vacuum packed chestnuts
50ml olive oil
1 banana shallot or onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 small celeriac peeled and chopped into 1cm dice
1 medium sized carrot chopped into 1cm dice
1 stick celery chopped into 1cm dice
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped (remove wet centre)
Vegetable stock – about 200ml
Chopped fresh sage (about 8 leaves – if you use dried sage, then use sparingly)
1 flat tablespoon of Miso
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Gently sweat all the vegetables in the oil until soft, then turn up the heat and add the chopped tomatoes and chilli, allow to bubble furiously, then add the herbs and the chestnuts. Mix well. Add the stock and the miso, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to medium and let it gently simmer away with the lid off for about half an hour. Half way through, check for seasoning and adjust. You should now have a lovely thick ‘stew’ and not too much liquid. At this stage if the ingredients are swimming in liquid, take some out so that when in the pan, the liquid only just reaches the top of the vegetables etc. Taste again and adjust seasoning. Then slake some cornflour with the juice in the pan, return to the pan to thicken the ‘gravy’. Now let it cool thoroughly. Practice showed me that the colder the filling, the better the pie. So you could make this the day before. Or freeze it till you need it.
Now for the hot water crust pastry. Be not afraid!
175g wholewheat plain flour
75g white plain flour
50g fine oatmeal
75ml olive oil or rapeseed oil
1 tsp salt
130ml boiling water
Let me first say that it will help if you have your filling ready, the oven warmed up to 190C, some extra flour for rolling out and four stainless steel rings that have been well greased and powdered with fine semolina.
Sift all the flour into a bowl, add the salt and the oatmeal and mix well. Add the oil and rub it in (as if it were butter – or lard!) then add the water and mix swiftly with a wooden spoon till all the ingredients come together. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for a minute then leave it for 5 minutes. Place your rings on a baking tray on which you have placed a sheet of baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
Cut the dough into four pieces and each piece into two – a larger piece of the pie and a smaller piece for the top. The dough will be warm and you need to work fairly quickly. Roll out the larger piece so it will fit into the ring mould and come up the sides and beyond. It is easy to mould at this stage. The idea is to tease the pastry as high as you can above the mould – the mould is only there to secure the base. Don’t think mince pie thickness – think thicker. This is a robust pie! So now you have the first pie in its mould and the pastry standing well above the top of the mould. Now fill the pastry with the chestnut and celeriac filling. One tip is to take some out and mash it first and put the mashed contents at the bottom and the chunkier bits on top. Then fill up with the gravy. Roll out a top that fits. Use some of the gravy to wet the edges. Place the top on the pie and crimp together. Pierce a hole in the top to let the steam escape. Now do it again three times.
Marion told me that she ‘raised’ her pies around a jam jar, and Sue said she did the same but used a baked bean can. Jo said she couldn’t be bothered with any of that old business and simply made individual ‘pork pie’ sized ones in deep muffin trays. I tried these aswell and they worked really well . Remember that as the pastry cools it becomes firmer and I found the ring moulds worked well and contained the base – reducing the risk of the pie collapsing as it cooks.
Place the baking tray in the centre of the oven and cook the pies for about 40 minutes until golden brown and the gravy is bubbling out the top. When you remove them from the oven, keep them on the tray and in the moulds. I suggest you leave for about 30 minutes then you should be able to upend and run a very sharp pointed knife round the inside of the mould to release it.
If you have left over juice, then use it to make the gravy.