Leek, mushroom and spinach pie
Dominic Franks shares his recipe for a leek, mushroom and spinach pie with an indulgent cheesy sauce.
Yes, I know we’ve all been overeating since the start of the festive season but with this cold weather and gloom and doom on the news we need something extra comforting – and is there anything more wonderfully comforting than a pie? This leek, mushroom and spinach pie with a cheesy sauce is one of the best, even if I say so myself! For me, pastry feels like such a treat, even though it’s really quite a basic thing. Just flour, water and butter, but those three ingredients can make such a magical meal – which is why anything wrapped in pastry is always so special. Especially when you’ve gone to the effort to make it yourself.
I love this ‘ruff puff’ pastry recipe and it’s perfect for this pie. It’s actually a breeze to make but you do need plenty of time. This is the kind of pastry you need to make on a lazy Sunday and then either freeze for later or keep refrigerated until you need it. It will last for at least 48 hours in the fridge, so it means you can make this on a Sunday ready for a fabulous mid-week meal on a Wednesday. Perfection!
• Place the flour into a large bowl and using your fingertips quickly rub in the 60g of butter, then add the water/lemon juice – mix a tablespoon at a time. You can stir this with a wooden spoon but I like to use my hand, shaped like a claw, as I can feel the flour and water begin to form the dough so I know how much liquid to add. You want to add enough liquid to form a firm dough that isn’t too tacky.
• Knead the dough for a couple of minutes then wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for about 10 min.
• Flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a long rectangle with the short side nearest to you, then sprinkle the bottom two-thirds of the rectangle with half the grated frozen butter. (Push it down into the dough slightly.) Fold over the top unbuttered third towards you and then fold the bottom third back over the top so that you have created 6 layers of dough/butter/dough/butter/dough/butter.
• Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll it out again into a rectangle and repeat the above with the remaining butter. Roll it out again after this and fold, then wrap and refrigerate for a good hour.
• Repeat the roll and fold process again three more times but don’t worry about refrigerating between each fold – if you work fast you really won’t need to. After the fifth roll and fold, wrap it and pop it in the fridge for at least an hour before using. (You can freeze at this stage.)
• For the filling, start with the mushrooms, which I gently sauté in a pan with a little butter and olive oil. Season well with salt, pepper and plenty of fresh rosemary. Sauté until they are golden brown, then remove from the pan and set aside.
• In the same pan, add a little more oil and butter and then add the leeks and onions and sauté gently until they soften. This should take about 8 min with a little stirring. Season well and then bung the bag of spinach on top. Turn the heat to its lowest and let the spinach wilt. This should take about 5 min. Then stir it in along with the cooked mushrooms.
• For the cheese sauce place the milk, butter and flour into a saucepan on a gentle heat and whisk gently until it thickens. You must whisk and whisk or you’ll get lumps. It will take roughly 8 min to thicken. If it looks like it’s turning lumpy simply remove it from the heat and stir.
• Stir in the grated cheese and cream cheese and then when it’s gloriously glossy tip the cooked vegetables into it and stir it all together.
• Pre-heat your oven to 170°C fan.
• I’m using a round 26cm ceramic pie dish but to be honest any type of pie dish will work. Butter it well, then divide the pastry into two even halves. Pop one back in the fridge and roll the other one out so that it’s large enough to cover the inside of your pie dish.
• Roll out the other half of the pastry in preparation.
• Pour the filling into the pastry-lined pie dish. Then lay the second half of the pastry on top. Seal well all the way around and crimp or decorate the top of the pie to your liking. Trim the edges of the pie and then use the trimmings to make some pretty shapes to lay on top.
• Brush the top of the pie with a little milk and then bake in the oven for 30-40 min until the pie crust is gloriously golden and the filling is piping hot. Eat and of course, enjoy!