According to a recent survey by Waitrose, one in five vegetarians have been served meat on Christmas day, and 25% of veggies prefer to cook for themselves at Christmas so they know they'll get something suitable. I'm lucky enough to have a supportive family who have never tried to force-feed me meat (at least... not that I've found out about...), but in case you're not spending Christmas somewhere that will provide you with a tasty vegetarian option, here's a gorgeous mushroom and chestnut pie that you can make yourself instead. Since I was intending this to be a vegetarian Christmas dinner, I didn't hold back - this is not a diet recipe!
It starts with mushrooms, garlic, shallots and chestnuts cooked in butter (the smell of which alone is enough to make me drool a little). Then you add a dash of wine and some vegetable stock, and simmer it until you have a nice rich, thick sauce. Then comes my favourite part (which also happens to be the naughtiest part) - add a dash of cream and some grated gruyère, which come together to form a luxuriously smooth and creamy sauce.
I cooked my pastry topping separately from the pie filling (so I suppose this is technically a 'deconstructed' pie) because I think it looks prettier, and it helps to keep the pastry nice and crispy, but if you'd prefer to cook your pastry on top of the mushroom mixture, that will definitely work too - just construct it in a baking dish and pop it all in the oven for 15 minutes or so. It might look a bit messier (the filling will probably bubble up around the pastry, and you won't get nice neat rectangular portions of pastry like I did) but sometimes that's half the fun, so I say go for it.
I've not had chestnuts many times before, but they really added something great to this pie. Not only did they make it feel more festive (when else do you eat chestnuts?), they also added a bit of depth and a different texture to the pie filling. They become quite soft when cooked, but still have a bit of bite to them, so they're perfect for a meatless meal like this.
This indulgent pie is just the sort of thing I fancy around Christmas - something that feels a bit special! It's definitely not the time of year to be stingy. Of course, if you're making this at any other time of year, you could make it a little healthier (and cheaper!) by leaving out the wine and perhaps using a slightly cheaper cheese than gruyère (or skipping the cheese altogether - but where's the fun in that?).
I can't wait to make this again nearer The Big Day, and have it alongside the usual Christmas Day trimmings. Best thing: it's got built in gravy! A roast potato would work a treat for mopping the plate for those last few drips of the rich, cheesy sauce.
And now I'm drooling again.
- For the puff pastry topping
- 80g puff pastry
- Plain flour for rolling pastry
- Spray oil
- Black pepper
- For the pie filling
- 1tbsp butter
- 1tbsp oil
- 300g mushrooms (I used mostly chestnut mushrooms, plus a few white mushrooms), cut into chunky dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 75g shallots, sliced
- 100g cooked chestnuts, cut into chunky dice
- 4tbsp dry white wine
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 250ml vegetable stock
- 50ml single cream
- 50g gruyère cheese, grated
- 4tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- First, prepare your pastry. On a well-floured surface, roll out the pastry and cut it into several rectangles. Lay them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Spray the pastry pieces lightly with oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F).
- To make the pie filling, melt the butter with the oil in a large frying pan, and add the diced mushrooms, minced garlic and sliced shallots. Fry over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, and then add the chopped chestnuts. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mushrooms and onions are soft.
- At this point, you can put the pastry into the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown.
- While the pastry is cooking, add a good glug of wine and some dried thyme to the mushroom mixture, and cook for a couple of minutes until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the stock, and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer gently until the mixture has reduced a little, just a few minutes. Add the cream and grated gruyère, and mix together. As the cheese melts it should help to form a creamy sauce. Bring the mixture to your desired consistency - add a dash more stock if you'd like it to be thinner, or simmer it for a few more minutes to thicken it up. Season to taste.
- Add the fresh parsley just before serving, and serve topped with a piece of puff pastry.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Waitrose. I was compensated for writing this post.