Val and I wanted to make something special for Christmas dinner, so we went to Google and found this festive recipe on BBC Good Food. We made some slight alterations like switching to a half-whole-wheat crust, and sloshing some white wine and apple cider vinegar into the filling.
Here is the recipe recounted here with standard measurements – but check the original for metric weight measurements if that’s your preference.
For the Filling:
2 Medium sized leeks with the ends cut off, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
8 oz mushrooms (small box), chopped
2 Medium sized white potatoes, grated
7 oz cooked lentils (half a can)
7 oz finely chopped cooked chestnuts (most jars and bags of cooked chestnuts come in about 7oz quantities. If you buy raw chestnuts in the shell, you can roast them for 20 min at 400 degrees, then peel them before you chop)
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream or half & half depending on your love of fat)
1/4 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon thyme leaf, plus 8 sprigs of thyme for decoration
1/8 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup whole cranberries, plus about 30 to decorate
4 teaspoons red currant jelly (we used lingonberry instead – hello Ikea!)
For the Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
2 sticks (half a pound) of chilled butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons ice water
How To Make It
To make the crust, put flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Then add butter in small chunks, pulsing after each chunk. By the time the butter is gone, the flour will turn crumbly. Add the water and blend at five second intervals until the dough forms a ball. NOTE: We did half this recipe at a time because of the size of our food processor, so make sure this amount won’t overwhelm your machine. Half this recipe is what you would use for a basic pie crust.
You can wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge ahead of time. Just remember to pull it out about half an hour before you’re going to roll it out.
Fry the leeks on medium heat in the butter until softened. Add the mushrooms, nutmeg and thyme, and turn up the heat a bit to soften the mushrooms and reduce the liquid that comes out of them. Stir in the potato for 2 mins, followed by the lentils, chestnuts and cream.
Slosh in the wine and apple cider vinegar. Salt and black pepper to taste. Cook for 2 mins more, then take off the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup cranberries.
Roll out a quarter of the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface and use one of the 8 individual pie dish rims to cut the 8 pastry lids – we used 8 x 3/4 cup ramekins. (In the original recipe they use larger, taller ones and they look great, but the 3/4 cup version is plenty of food per person, especially if you are serving it with other side dishes.) Then, use a small cookie cutter to cut out a shape from each lid, and set the shapes aside to bake beside the pies separately later.
Cut 4 strips of parchment paper and use a little butter to stick one in each pie dish, so the ends of the strips stick out from each side to help you remove the pies when baked. Make sure there are tabs to hold on to on both sides otherwise it is a pain to wedge the pie out of there after baking.
Divide the remaining pastry into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each to 3mm thickness and use to line each pie dish with an overhang. Divide the filling between the dishes. Top each with a lid, and roll up the overhang to meet the lid. Use a fork’s prongs to press and seal edges. The pies can now be covered and chilled for up to 24 hrs before baking.
Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush each pie with beaten egg and bake for 30 mins. Lift pies from dishes and sit directly onto a baking sheet.
Mix 30 cranberries with the red currant jelly (or Lingonberry) and divide between the holes on top. Brush pastry shapes with beaten egg, add a small thyme sprig to each, then add to the pie baking sheet and put back in the oven for 5-10 mins, until pies and shapes are golden and crisp. Top each pie with a shape and serve.