Last week was officially British Pie Week, and while I often think there are way too many ‘National Holidays’ to celebrate these days, this is one I can totally get on board with!
Making a pie from scratch can sometimes turn into a time consuming task, but this recipe is all about convenience and using a few pre-made goodies can really help speed the process along, especially if you want to impress with minimal effort.
The traditional pie has come a long way and while people may turn their noses up at the idea of a vegan pie… I’ve got you covered! Not only is this recipe hearty and warming, but it really is truly delicious.
The real star of this recipe is the chestnuts. The richness and bite from the chestnuts add both texture and great flavour, which means you wouldn’t even miss the meat at all here. Insert actual quote from my meat loving friend…
“This is THE best pie I have ever tasted!”
Better still, one of my favourite brands – Merchant Gourmet – do a great chestnut. They are peeled, roasted and ready to go in a handy pouch, but most importantly they are available all year round! No more waiting for the Christmas produce to arrive in stores.
Nine times out of ten I will opt for a shortcrust pastry when I make a pie, because it just feels so much more indulgent and I love to have a full casing. A puff pastry lid works just as well if that is what you prefer.
Although making your own pastry is fairly easy, I am yet to perfect my vegan pastry, so I often cheat and buy a ready roll pastry. This saves so much time and did you know that most store bought ready roll pastries are actually vegan too?! Winning!
When it comes to finding a good quality vegan ale it can feel a little daunting, but they are available at most large supermarkets and your local health food stores, just make sure to check the label. (I like the Brew Dog Punk IPA.) To those non-vegans out there, a well rounded medium strength ale will work perfectly.
Here it is…
Makes 1 large pie to serve 4
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 White Onion, chopped
- 400g Chestnut Mushrooms, cut into thick slices
- 180g Pack of Merchant Gourmet Chestnuts, halved
- 3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- 330ml Vegan Ale
- 400ml Vegetable Stock
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
- Few Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- Few Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
- 1 tbsp Corn Flour, mixed in 100ml of warm water (if needed)
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 x Ready Roll Shortcrust Pastry
- Nut / Soya Milk for brushing your pastry
- Make sure to get the ready roll pastry out of the fridge for a minimum of 45 minutes prior to cooking
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C
- In a large pan heat the olive oil and sautee the onion until starting to soften (about 5 minutes)
- Add the mushrooms and stir until they start to soften and release their liquid (about 5 minutes)
- Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and the chestnuts and stir until combined
- Add the bottle of ale and leave to simmer low for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding the vegetable stock a little at a time and make sure the mixture does not stick to the bottom
- While this is cooking you want to prep your pastry casing and blind bake the base in the oven for about 15 minutes. TIP: See how to do this in the notes below
- Taste your pie filling, adding salt and pepper to taste and removing the sprigs of thyme and rosemary.
- Add more vegetable stock if needed – your pie filling is going to dry out when cooking in the oven so you want to have a little more liquid at this stage (I always underestimate this!). On the other hand, if you have too much liquid you can add a little cornflour with warm water to thicken.
- Once your pastry case has blind baked, fill it with your pie filling
- Top your pie with pastry, trimming the edges to fit the dish. Crimp the edges and make a cross in the centre with a knife to release the steam. You can decorate your pie with any leftover pastry and brush with a little of the milk to glaze
- Bake your pie in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown
- Serve with creamy mash, leafy greens and a generous glug of gravy. YUM.
TIP: Blind baking your pastry casing base
Blind baking is really important when making a full casing for a shortcrust pie. The moisture and heat in the filling can make the crust soggy, so blind baking the crust until it’s half-baked first will help the crust stay firm.
It’s an easy process and won’t take more than about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Place your pastry in the base and up the sides of your pie dish
- Prick all over with a fork
- Line the pastry with parchment paper, nice and snug up against the sides
- Pour the pastry beans into the dish so the bottom is covered and they are pushed right up to the side. This will stop the pastry layers from puffing up
- Bake the pastry for about 15 minutes or until the sides are a light golden colour.
- Remove from the oven. Pinch the corners of the paper and carefully lift out the pastry beans and transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Bake ‘naked’ in the oven for a further 3-5 minutes. The base may slightly puff up while cooking but don’t worry, it will deflate again when removed from the oven. You want the bottom to look dry and flaky, but still pale/light golden.
- Carry on with the rest of your pie recipe and remember… No-one likes a soggy bottom! 😉