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Rich, dark vege pot pie

April 13, 2010

Failing rich, dark and handsome…I bring you vege pot pie to snuggle up in bed with, over a terrible romantic comedy or something starring Hugh Grant. Or is that too nineties?

Anyway.

In preparation for the oncoming chills, this pastry-then-cheese-topped stew will be the answer to your cold, lazy woes. It’s full of good things like portobello mushrooms, browned onions, and soft, velvety carrot chunks. Then of course there are the potatoes, which soak up all the glorious salty flavour and proceed to melt in your mouth from being cooked twice. See, ugly things can be beautiful in their own way.

By the way, you may have noticed that I’ve been using large ramekins lately. They are my new favourite winter thingee. Being 15cm in diameter they’re perfect for use as bowls or for when you want to do a single serve of something that’s messy and oven-y, like this pie or lasagne, or layered bakes, or a little cake for you to share with your loverboy or second self that’s growing around your middle (just kidding…although if you do grow one, I’d love to share). Oh, and French onion soup. I need to make this, badly. Or frittatas. Or insert-delicious-baked-good-that-I-dislike-halving-or-cutting-here. Plus if you’re just cooking for yourself and want lunch the next day, do two at once and voila. Lunch the next day just needs reheating. If I’m bringing it to Uni I’d just cover with foil or plastic wrap, pop in a bag, tie the bag, and place at the bottom of whatever main bag I take to Uni so there’s not too much spillage. Then just microwave when I get to Uni.

You can thank me later. Get some big ramekins. Go make the pie.

Rich & dark vege pot pie

serves 2

about 25g butter and 2-3 Tbs oil (or just oil for vegans)
1 large onion, finely chopped
8 medium portobello mushrooms, halved then sliced
5 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1-2 carrots, chopped into 1cm dice
2 large potatoes (or equivalent), chopped into approx. 1cm dice
about 2c vege stock
2 tsp fresh minced thyme, or 1 1/2 tsp dried

salt and pepper to taste

Pastry (makes more than enough for 1 pie, freeze the rest)
100g salted butter, diced
1 1/2 c wholemeal flour
enough cold water or milkto bring it into a dough (start with 1/3c)

grated cheese to top (omit for vegans, or use vegan cheese)

Make pastry first: rub butter and flour together with a fork, potato masher, pastry cutter or food processor until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Don’t worry if there are some lumps of butter still, as long as there aren’t any lumps longer than 1cm. Add 1/3c cold water, and mix in with a fork or your fingers to form a shaggy collection of soft doughy bits. Bring together the doughy bits by scrunching them together with one hand, keep scrunching while adding cold water teaspoon by teaspoon until there’s no dry pockets of flour left. You should have formed a firm dough that looks consistent. Cover or place in a plastic bag and refrigerate while your prepare the ingredients for the stew.

Melt butter and oil in a large (>10″) frypan or medium large saucepan (6-8″), on medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, garlic and carrots, and cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so until the onions are brown. While the onions are cooking, in a separate saucepan add the potatoes to the stock and bring to a boil. Maintain the boil for five minutes, then remove from heat. Once the onions are brown, add the thyme, potatoes and stock. Reduce the heat and simmer to reduce the liquid by half (so, keep simmering until there’s half as much liquid). While this is happening, deal with the pastry.

Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly flour a working surface or chopping board. The amount of pastry you need depends on the size of the dish you want to make your pie in (I used two 15cm diameter ramekins). A 2″ ball of pastry dough will cover a 6-8″ dish. Use more dough than less though, as you can always trim, but if you don’t use enough dough, you’ll have to start again. Roll your ball of dough out to about 2-3mm thick (about 1/10″), adding sprinklings of flour while rolling to prevent the dough from sticking to your work surface or rolling pin. A little sticking is fine, any more than that and you will want to tear your hair out at the end of it. The pastry circle/square/whatever shape your casserole dish is does not have to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to reach the sides in all places, in fact. This is a laid back dinner, remember? Hugh Grant? Yeah, he ain’t perfect, is he?

Once the stew is reduced, add a few sprinklings of flour and mix through. Add more flour if you want it thicker, or just leave as is if you’re fine with the consistency. Pour the stew into a casserole dish or any ovenproof dish that will fit it. Sprinkle a little cheese over, then cover with your pastry. Then sprinkle with more cheese if you want. If you’ve been good and non-perfectionisty, there’ll be gaps between your pastry and the side of your dish. This will let steam escape. If you’ve been a perfectionist, slit a little cross in the middle of your pastry.

Throw in the oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese is properly melted and a bit golden, and the pastry is hard-ish when your prod it with a fork. Let cool on the side a little before hoeing in. Trust me on this.

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