fennel and taleggio pie
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What? Making pastry from scratch, I’ve got to be kidding? Life’s too short to be rubbing lard into flour and some of us have a day job? Home from work half seven and weekends are for a bit of chilling? Can’t be arsed to clean up flour messing up the whole kitchen and waiting for ever for the pastry to chill? Rolling out dough is worse a chore than ironing?
Okay – I get it.
Very well, I’m not a kitchen fascist. Use shop bought shortcrust pastry, even a ready-made shell. Go on, use it. Knock yourself out. But don’t blame me for the massive FOMO OFF*.
Agreed, some things are completely not worth making from scratch. Puff pastry for one, or mayo: tastewise yay, bulkwise nay. Anchovy paste is a perfectly serviceable condiment and so is horseradish sauce. But sometimes it just won’t do to get halfway-ready products because the whole experience calls for spending time in the kitchen – and a pie making is one of those.
My offering to vegetarians who like pies, this is actually better the next day at room temperature, if there’s any left. Fennel tastes gorgeous here and the filling is amazingly creamy though no cream in ingredients list. Optional idea: add a few chopped mushrooms to the fennel if you’d like more bite to the filling. And if you really can’t find Taleggio anywhere, substitute Brie or Camembert with the rind trimmed off.
*FOMO On Fantastic Food (that I was too much of a lazy-bum to cook)
fennel and taleggio pieServings: 4-6Time: a couple of hours
- For the pastry:
- 300g (2 ½ cup) plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 100g (7 tbsp.) cold butter, diced
- 50g (3 ½ tbsp.) cold lard, diced
- 1 medium egg
- 60 – 80ml (¼ cup) iced water
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- For the filling:
- 2 large bulbs of fennel
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 150g (5 oz.) Taleggio cheese, cut into chunks
- a squeeze of lemon, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- ½ bunch of dill, finely chopped
- 4 sprigs of tarragon, leaves stripped and finely chopped
- For the pie:
- 1 tbsp. cream cheese
- 50g (1 ½ oz.) grated Cheddar or Gruyere
- beaten egg, for brushing
To make the pastry – which can be made well ahead and stored in the fridge or frozen – stir the flour, salt and mustard powder in a large bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the diced butter and lard and process or rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Beat the egg with the water and vinegar and gradually add to the flour mixture, stirring the liquid in with a large fork or a spatula. Add a little more water if it looks dry. When it starts clumping together, give it a short knead with your hands and gather the pastry into a ball. Divide it into 1/3 and 2/3; wrap both portions in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
Halve the fennel bulbs lengthwise and slice across thinly. Discard the tough stalks but keep the green fronds and chop them finely. Sprinkle the sliced fennel generously with salt and leave for 5 minutes.
In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Take off the lid and cook for further 5-10 minutes until the liquid evaporates. Stir in the cheese, take it off the heat, season with black pepper, a squeeze of lemon and stir in the herbs and the fennel fronds. Cool it completely; if you need to speed up the cooling process, place the pan in a bowl of ice cold water.
When the filling is cold, prepare the pastry bottom and lid: roll out the bigger portion to a round of about 24cm in diameter, depending on the size and shape of your pie dish; it needs to cover the bottom with an overhang. Break the egg that will be used for brushing and use some of the white to brush over the bottom of the pie, to stop it from getting soggy. Return to the fridge while you roll out the lid to a smaller circle; just to cover the top. You may want to cut out a few holes or shapes in the pastry top.
Preheat the oven to 190C/200F/gas 5. Brush the pastry bottom with the cream cheese, and sprinkle half the grated Cheddar. Spoon the filling into the dish and top with the remaining Cheddar; brush the edges with the egg lightly beaten with a spoonful of cold water.
Cover with the pastry lid, press the edges and trim the excess pastry. Scrunch or crimp up the edge of the pie and brush it generously with the beaten egg.
Bake the pie in the lower half of the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes until golden brown.
Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving, with mashed potatoes and green vegetables or a plain green salad.