Getting these little pies out of their ramekins may be a more stressful experience than you would like on Christmas Day, but nevertheless they have earned a place on my menu for the big day. On the plus side, they can be made a day in advance and chilled in the fridge, they look quite impressive and festive with the little star cutouts, and they are delicious. I’ve been trialling a few options for Christmas Dinner, and this is definitely the front runner.
The pies can be easily veganised by using soy milk for the pastry and glaze, margarine or oil for frying and soy cream instead of creme fraiche. I couldn’t get hold of chestnuts when I made them, but will definitely use them on the day itself for an added festive touch. I served them with parsnip mash, sprouts, cranberry sauce and gravy, and on the 25th I think I’ll go all out with the roasted vegetable accompaniments. Only 23 days to go now!
Serves 4, adapted from BBC GoodFood
1 large leek, thinly sliced
25g butter/vegan margarine
100g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
100g potatoes, grated
100g green lentils (rinsed and drained from a can is fine – cooked, otherwise)
4 tbsp creme fraiche/soy cream
100g chestnuts (vacuum packed)
2 tsp cranberry sauce
For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g vegetarian suet
1/2 tsp salt
8-10 tbsp milk/non-dairy milk
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash only; alternatively, use non-dairy milk)
1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Make the filling first. Heat the butter in a pan and fry the leek for 5-7 minutes until soft.
2. Add the mushrooms and thyme and fry for a further 5 minutes.
3. Add the grated potato, stir through and heat for another minute.
4. Add the lentils, chestnuts and creme fraiche. Heat for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the cranberry sauce. Set aside.
5. Make the pastry: whiz the flour, suet and salt in a food processor.
6. Add the milk a spoonful at a time – you may not need it all. Bring the dough together into a ball.
7. Roll out a quarter of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 4 lids big enough to fit around a ramekin dish. Use a small star cutter to cut out a star shape from each lid. Set aside.
8. Grease some strips of baking paper and use them to line 4 ramekins – these should in theory help you to pull the pies out.
9. Roll out the rest of the pastry and use it to line the ramekins – you can leave an overhang.
10. Fill the pastry cases with the filling.
11. Top each pie with a lid, rolling the pastry overhang in. Seal the edges with a fork and brush the tops with egg.
12. Bake the pies for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven. Use the paper strips to life the pies from their ramekins – one of mine came out, the other didn’t, but both cooked fine. Brush the pastry stars with egg, add them to the baking tray and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until everything is well cooked.