The weather has turned cold and I'm starting to think about Christmas, so winter must be on its way. So, in preparation for the cold spell that's just around the corner, we thought we'd make a hearty, warming pot pie. This is based on Delia Smith's recipe, with just a tiny amount of deviation, and will feed four to six people, depending on what you serve with it.
For this recipe, you'll need a round ovenproof dish that's around 2 inches (5 cm) deep. We used our new Le Creuset pie dish, which is 24 cm in diameter (and a thing of great beauty). You'll also need a steamer and a baking sheet.
Ingredients for the Pie Filling:
6 oz (170 g) butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
8 oz (225 g) parsnip, peeled and cut into cubes
8 oz (225 g) sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
4 oz (110 g) carrots, peeled and cut into cubes
8 oz (225 g) leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick chunks
a little freshly grated nutmeg
4 oz (110 g) Gruyère, grated
Ingredients for the Pastry:
1 oz (25 g) parmesan, finely grated
4 oz (110 g) plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
pinch of salt
1 oz (25 g) pure vegetable fat
1 oz (25 g) softened butter
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
Ingredients for the Sauce:
1½ oz (40 g) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1½ oz (40 g) plain flour
1 pint (570 ml) milk
a little freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
2 oz (50 g) Gruyère, grated
1 oz (25 g) Parmesan, finely grated
1 dessertspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 dessertspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly milled black pepper
A note about preparation: When chopping up your vegetables, cut them into ½ to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 cm) cubes (see photo below).
Begin by popping the butternut squash, parsnips, carrots and leeks into a steamer. Add the freshly grated nutmeg and a little salt, then steam them for 10 minutes. Next, throw in the cubes of sweet potato and steam everything for a further 10 minutes. Check that the vegetables are tender when skewered mercilessly with a fork. If they’re not, steam them for a little longer. Otherwise, pop the vegetables into a large bowl and set them aside to cool.
While the vegetables are cooling, move on to making the pastry. Begin by sifting the flour, with a pinch of salt, into a large bowl. Add the vegetable fat, butter and Parmesan, then use your fingers to rub the fat into the flour. Add about a tablespoon of cold water and mix it in with a knife before working it in with your hands. Add small amounts of water and continue working it in until you have a smooth dough. It's important that it's not too dry, as you'll have a lot of trouble rolling it out if it is; it should be very bouncy and moist. Roll it about the bowl and it should leave the sides clean. Place the pastry into a polythene bag and pop it into the fridge for half an hour.
While the pastry is chilling in the fridge, you can move on to making the sauce (see photos below for stages). First of all, pop the butter into a small saucepan to melt it, then add the onion and cook it on the lowest heat for around 20 minutes, stirring every now and then and making sure that it doesn't brown. Add the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir it in with the onions, then add the milk a little at a time, eventually replacing the spoon with a balloon whisk and giving it a good whisk after every addition. Add a seasoning of nutmeg and salt & pepper and then let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes. Then stir in the mustard, cheeses and herbs. Take the sauce off the heat and let it cool.
Righty-ho, it’s time to assemble the pie. Begin by preheating the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C). Mix the vegetables with the sauce (see photo above) and pop half of the resulting mixture into the round pie dish. Sprinkle on half of the Gruyère, then add the remaining half of the veggie mixture and top with what’s left of the cheese (see photos below).
Pop the pastry onto a pastry board that’s been lightly dusted with flour and roll out a circle. Cut out a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. Then roll out what’s left of the pastry and cut a ½ in (1 cm) strip to go around the edge of the pie dish. Wet the edge of the pie dish with water and place the strip of pastry around its rim, pressing it down as you go (see photo below).
Wet the top of this strip with a little more water, then carefully place the circle of pastry onto the dish, pressing the edges down lightly to seal the contents in. Trim the edges, then use your finger and thumb to flute them. Poke a hole in the centre of the pastry to allow the steam to escape, then brush the surface with the beaten egg (see photo below)
Place the pie dish onto a baking sheet and pop it into the oven, on the centre shelf, for 25-30 minutes, until the pie is piping hot and the pastry is golden brown.
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