Winter is on it’s way, ok not quite yet but it’s certainly time to start thinking about proper food rather than all that summer salady stuff. Time to get down and heavy with some proper hearty baking. I love this pie. It’s one of those meals that you can eat and time of the day, super quick to put together and your only real worry is what to stick on the top of the lid to make it look like you have spent hours on it. This one also tastes better a couple of days later and reheats superbly, if you like your crispy pastry that is.
The humble ham and mushroom pie, a staple food item through my university years and continues to make a regular appearance on the table during the week when I need to whip up a quick meal. It’s one of those dishes that you just cant tart up, no fancy thrills, whistles and bells or polished nobs are goona take away the fact that this is a Pie. Ok maybe the quality of the ingredients have improved through the years, and maybe we have our own variations, adding a few herbs here and there, a little mustard in the white sauce perhaps but the base flavours remain the same. The trick is getting the white sauce the correct consistency, it thickens through the cooking, but then again we all need an excuse to wallpaper the front room.
chunky ham and mushroom pie:
FOR THE short CRUST PASTRY:
600 G PLAIN FLOUR
400 G BUTTER cold and in cubes
2 eggs lightly whisked
100 ML ice WATER
zest of one lemon
2 TBSP THYME / OREGANO / ROSEMARY OR WHATEVER ROBUST HERB YOU FANCY
FOR THE white sauce:
60 g butter
60 G FLOUR
250 ml ham or chicken stock
100 ML thick cream
250 ML milk
100 ml white wine (optional)
FOR THE filling:
100 g butter
400 G mushrooms cut into quarters or good size chunks (portabello, chestnut, something with flavour)
1 onion diced into chunks
500 G cooked ham cut i nto large chunks
2 tbsp thyme / oregano / rosemary or whatever robust herb you fancy
Preheat the oven to 190°C
Make the pastry first as it needs to cool and do its thing in the fridge:
You can do this the romantic way and the touchy feely way, but I just tend to whack it all in the food blender if I am short of time. Both ways you are looking for breadcrumbs when you fisrt mix the butter and flour.
1. Put flour and butter in a bowl / food processor and work to breadcrumb consistency.
2. Throw in the eggs and give it a good mix. It should all come together now but be slightly dry.
3. Add a couple of spoons of ice water to loosen it a little, you are looking for the dough to come together in a nice ball.
4. Add the lemon zest and herbs and kneed a few times to get a lovely smooth dough.
5. Cut into 2 parts, (1/3 and 2/3, (lid and base)). Roll into balls and pat down. Put in the fridge to chill out.
Make the white sauce.
1. Melt butter in saucepan.
2. Add flour and mix to a paste and continue cooking for a couple of minutes (cooks off the floury texture).
3. Add the chicken stock, cream and milk altogether, no need to take off heat or warm them up or anything.
4. Continue to cook for 5 or so minutes until the sauce is pretty thick.
5. Add the white wine, stir and set aside to cool.
Make the filling.
1. Melt butter in pan and add the mushrooms, cook over a good heat until proper coloured, none of this flimsy grey colour.
2. Remove the mushrooms but keep the butter in the pan. Add a little oil and add the onions. Cook until slightly browned and soft.
3. Add the ham chunks and continue to fry to get a nice brown colour on the ham.
Assemble the pies
1. Roll out the pastry for the base and place in a nice oiled pie dish or similar.
2. Mix the sauce with all the filling ingredients including the herbs and spoon into the pie.
3. Roll out the lid and place on top of the pie.
4. Brush the lids with egg wash and make a small hole in the top.
5. If you want you can throw over some sea salt and herbs to pretty it up.
Cook the pies
Cook the pies in a 190°C oven for around 50 minutes. If you overcook these then you have fallen asleep or got a better offer from somewhere. The pastry is pretty forgiving and the filling doesn’t seem to get bothered.
Serve up with some good old peas, a lush Autumn ale and of course, plenty of ketchup.