All the roasting can be done while you get on with the leeks and greens. If you’re pushed for time or just want an extra hour in bed on Christmas morn, then a good-quality shop-bought shortcrust will work just fine.
Ingredients | Serves 8-10
Lancashire cheese 200g
organic or free-range egg 1, beaten, or soya milk for brushing
For the pastry
plain flour 500g, plus extra for rolling
fine sea salt 1 tsp
baking powder ½ tsp
coarse polenta 100g
fresh thyme a small bunch, leaves picked and very finely chopped
butter or vegetable shortening 200g
ice-cold water up to 250ml
For the sweet potato
sweet potatoes 3, scrubbed clean
butter or olive oil a little
fresh nutmeg a good few gratings
For the beetroot
beetroots 5 medium, peeled and cut into rough cubes
red wine vinegar a splash
fresh marjoram or oregano 2 sprigs, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the parsnip
parsnips 4, peeled and cut into little fingers
fresh sage a couple of sprigs, leaves picked
unwaxed orange zest of 1
honey 1 tbsp
For the leeks
butter or olive oil 25g
leeks 2 good-sized, washed, trimmed and sliced
fresh thyme 3 sprigs, leaves picked
For the greens
winter greens 2 heads, stalks removed, roughly shredded
unwaxed lemon grated zest and juice of ½
red chilli 1, finely chopped
First make the pastry. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and add the polenta and chopped thyme. Cut the butter or shortening into small bits and rub these into the dry ingredients until you have a breadcrumb-like mix. Add the water and knead to a smooth dough, but don’t overwork it.
You could also use a food processor: pulse to breadcrumbs, then add the water and pulse until it just comes together. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill while you get on with everything else.
Now get your veg on the go – all of this can happen at once. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
Roast the sweet potatoes for 1 hour until soft. Meanwhile, prepare the beetroot and parsnips. Pop the beets into a roasting tin, with a splash of olive oil and the vinegar, add the marjoram or oregano, and season. Cover with foil and roast alongside the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes.
Put the parsnips into a roasting dish with the sage, orange zest, honey and a drizzle of olive oil, mix to coat, then cover with foil. Roast with the other veg for 45 minutes, until golden, removing the foil for the last 5-10 minutes. When all the veg are cooked, remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 200C/gas mark 6.
Cook the leeks. Heat the butter or oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the leeks and thyme and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, until sweet and softened, then set aside. Add a little more olive oil to the pan, add the greens and cook over a low heat for a few minutes, until just wilted. Season, then add the lemon zest and chilli. Set aside.
Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and mash with a knob of butter or 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a good grating of nutmeg. Adjust the seasoning for all the vegetable mixtures, if needed.
Take your pastry from the fridge and let it sit for a few minutes. Then roll it out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin and use it to line a 20cm springform cake tin, leaving the excess hanging over the edges.
Now it’s time to start layering the pie. Start with all the leeks, then a grating of Lancashire cheese, then the beetroot, the greens, and another layer of cheese, then the parsnips and finally the sweet potato mash.
Finish by bringing the excess pastry over the top of the mash, twisting the ends and laying them on the mash in a haphazard fashion – the little rough bits will crisp up and look beautiful. The pastry may not cover the whole of the top, but a little vivid orange sweet potato poking through is OK. Brush with the beaten egg or some soya milk.
Bake the pie at the bottom of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown, then remove from the oven and pop out of the tin, brush again with egg or soya milk and pop back into the oven for five minutes to brown all over. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes, then place in the middle of the table. Serve with lashings of the sticky cider gravy.
The original article published in The Observer can be found here
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