Sunday 1 February 2015

Spuds and leeks and stuff

There's not much left in the potager at the moment - just leeks, rather unhappy chard and broccoli that can't be expected to produce until March. One hopeful sign is the emergence of the first broad beans (Aquadulce aux longues cosses), just in time to be hit by a wave of cold weather. I am buoyed up by the arrival from Jacques Briant of a bag of Hercules onion sets Hoorah! These were removed from their bag, picked over and a couple with mould on removed, counted (199 of them), put back in the bag and hung in a cool place. They will be planted as soon as the weather allows.

So it's turn to the store cupboard and add leeks to whatever you find. Something that emerges in abundance is potatoes. So it's leek and potato soup, cheesyleekymash, colcannon and ... er .... turn to the internet for inspiration. I came across this recipe for cheesy leek and potato pie, from Good Food Magazine of March 2006, on the BBC Good Food site, and went so far as to make my own short crust pastry, having learned at this advanced age to use the food processor.

Pie about to be broached.

My father made the best shortcrust pastry I have ever tasted, mainly because he had huge hands and rather a poor circulation so his fingers were always cold. It was as though he waved his hands once through the fat and flour and suddenly it was all perfectly rubbed in. The pastry turned out light, never hard or leathery, firm but crumbly, crisp but not dry, and his apple pies were what dreams are made of. He used self-raising flour instead of plain, as well. I used dad's recipe for shortcrust pastry - 4 ounces of flour to a scant 3 ounces of fat, half lard / half butter or marge - dad would use Stork - and upped it by a factor of 3 to get the equivalent of a 500gm pack of paté brisé. And don't forget the pinch of salt.
Part pie

I weighed the flour (artisanal farine demi-complet, the equivalent of "brown flour") into the food processor jug, and added a pinch of salt. Then I cut small cubes of lard (saindoux) and unsalted St Hubert soft unsalted (doux) margarine,  dropping them into the flour until I had four ounces of each. The mixture  was pulsed in the processor to the texture of fine breadcrumbs (almost instantaneous - so much better than rubbing it in, it doesn't get warm from sticky fingers and much less mess). I switched the processor to slow but steady, poured about 55-60ml of cold water in a steady stream onto the whizzing blades and watched it convert the breadcrumbs into a smooth lump. The only tricky bit was to get the lump out - this is just as much pastry as our processor can take. I patted the lump into a ball, wrapped it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge while I made the filling.

I cannot improve on Barney Desmazery's recipe for the filling and baking of the pie, so I'll refer you to that again. Except I upped the potato a bit. Actually I used more like 900 grammes (2lb) of Red Duke of York potatoes. The red skin of the potato added a touch of extra colour.
Pie and scramble
It was served with Black Tuscan kale scramble. Chop up two portions of kale, cook in boiling salted water, beat an egg in a small jug and pour it over the cooked and drained kale while it's still good and hot, season, stir until the kale is well coated and the egg is cooked. We used the spare egg wash left over from making the pie.

This is a very satisfying pie for a cold day, and it would make excellent picnic food, too.


Jean said...

Leek and potato are a match made in heaven, especially when combined with cheese and put in a giant pasty!
Your pastry looks perfect.

Vera said...

Oh now this is something I am going to make (possibly tomorrow) when I want a change from meat meals! And that pastry looks delish, so will follow your advice about making it.

Tim said...

I made pastry this week to this recipe but using wholemeal flour and butter. It was so short it couldn't see over the edge of the pie dish...not recommended. Soft marge works best. Thank you, Jean, for your kinid comment. I wish you success with the pie, Vera! Pauline

Vera said...

I have made the pie!!!! Pastry was half lard and half butter (both fats home produced), to the ratio of 10ozs plain flour to 8ozs fat. Turned out the best pastry I have made for a long time.

The filling was the same as in the recipe, except I cooked three rashers of DIY bacon, then slow cooked the leeks in the fat which was left over. The cooked bacon I cut into little pieces and added them to the mix.

And wow! What a tasty pie. Didn't think that Lester would like it, but he munched it down at speed, and finished the rest for supper.

Great recipe. Have been instructed by Lester to make it again, and again....

Ken Broadhurst said...

Beautiful pie.