Do you like Dickens? What’s your favorite Dickens novel?
Instead, I’ll go on and on about this pie. I love a double-crusted pie in the wintertime, one with a tall crispy crust that holds in any mashed potatoes you might pile on top. In some ways this is my ur-winter pie. I love the combination of roasted mushrooms and nuts, and smoky cheese, and savory spinach. The beans add substance and flavor. I love the combination of sage and rosemary with a bit of nutmeg. This pie has all those things! In this case the nuts are in the crust, which is light and crispy, and the filling is dense and satisfying.
Here’s the Dickensian Decemberists with The Chimbley Sweep.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup toasted pecans, processed till finely chopped but not ground
1/2 t salt
1 t dried sage leaves
1 stick butter, frozen
Combine the flour, sage, pecans, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Grate in the butter, and mix it in with a fork until you have a coarsely crumbly mixture. Add enough ice water to pull it together into a workable dough (about 1/2 cup). Knead very briefly so that you’re sure the butter is incorporated. Wrap in foil, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
1 large bunch fresh spinach, soaked, rinsed and de-stemmed (about 4 cups, raw) You can also use baby spinach from a bag, either way, chop fairly fine
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
10 oz mushrooms roasted this way(you can leave the garlic out, cause you’ll cook it with the spinach)
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T fresh rosemary
1 t dried sage, or 7 or 8 fresh leaves, chopped
1 cup grated smoked gouda
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (you can use less of either cheese if you want to keep it lighter)
1 large piece whole wheat bread, ground to crumbs
large pinch nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and herbs, and cook for about a minute until the garlic starts to brown. Add the spinach with the water still clinging to it’s leaves. Stir and cook until the spinach is wilted and the pan is fairly dry.
In a large bowl, lighly mash the beans with a potato masher or fork. You don’t want them completely smushed, just broken down a little. Stir in the bread crumbs and spinach. Mix in the mushrooms. Stir in the cheese. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper, and taste for seasoning. Mix in all but 1 T of the beaten egg.
Preheat the oven to 425 and butter and flour a springform pan. Roll out 3/4 of the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. Don’t worry if holes forms around the pecans, you can always patch them up later. Line your springform pan with the dough, leaving enough to hang over the edges all the way round. Pinch some extra off the edges to patch any holes that form.
Spread the filling in the dough shell. Roll out the remaining quarter of dough to be just larger than the pie, and place it on top. Roll the edges down, pressing together as you go. Press the edge with the tines of a fork up against the sides of the pan, to make a thin 1/2 inch rim all around the pie. Prick in a few places with the fork, coat with egg, and pop in the oven.
Cook for 25 – 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Unspring the sprinform pan, and let the pie sit for about five minutes before serving.