Chestnut and Leek Pie with Stilton Pastry

This shiny, star-shaped pie is delicious, whether you are a vegetarian or not. For convenience, you can make it a day or two ahead up to the uncooked pastry stage so that it is ready just to pop in the oven. I find the vacuum-packed chestnuts by far the best.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/1 lb trimmed leeks
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 cm/2 in piece fresh ginger
  • 50 g/2 oz butter
  • 1 rounded teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 350-400 g/12-14 oz vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 4 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

For the pastry

  • 350 g/12 oz plain flour
  • 3 rounded teaspoons paprika
  • 3-4 pinches cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g/4 oz Stilton cheese
  • 175 g/6 oz chilled butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons chilled water

Method

To make the pastry, sift the flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt into a bowl. Crumble in the Stilton and stir in with a knife. Cut the butter into small pieces, add to the bowl and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Using a fork, lightly whisk the egg yolk with the chilled water, then pour it gradually into the flour mixture, mixing with the fork until the pastry begins to stick together. Lightly press the pastry into a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill while you make the filling.

Cut the leeks across into 2.5cm/1 in pieces, discarding the base and top. Peel the onion and chop into small pieces. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Add the leeks, onion and caraway seeds and fry over a gentle heat, stirring frequently, until the leeks and onion are soft. Stir in the ginger and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Gently stir in the whole chestnuts and the mustard. Season with sea salt and black pepper and set aside to cool.

Butter a large, flat ovenproof circular plate or pizza tin. Take the pastry from the fridge, cut in half, knead briefly and form into 2 balls. Roll out one ball on a lightly floured surface into a rough circle about 23-25 cm/ 9-10in in diameter. Turn over the edges a little to make a more exact circle and place it on the buttered plate or pizza tin. Spoon the cool leek and chestnut mixture to within 2.5cm/1 in of the pastry’s edge.

Roll out the second half of the pastry into a similar-sized circle. Then, using a sharp knife, cut all round the outside to make a fairly deep, pointed zigzag pattern like a child’s drawing of a many-pointed star. Lay this second piece of pastry on top of the filling and press gently to seal it to the bottom circle of pastry — there should be gaps between the inner parts of the star to allow steam to escape.

Squeeze the pastry trimmings together, then roll them out and cut out 2 or 3 stars to decorate the top of the pie. Moisten the underside of these stars with a little water and press them firmly on top of the pie. Refrigerate the pie for at least 30 minutes, or until you are ready to cook it.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg yolk. Bake the pie in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. If you want to reheat a precooked pie later, it will take 20-25 minutes at 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

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