New York-based chef April Bloomfield has a way with meat, but in her second cookbook A Girl and Her Greens she demonstrates that vegetable-forward dishes can be just as delicious as their carnivorous cousins. The British are known for their traditional meat pies, but as Bloomfield proves in this recipe wild mushrooms and Swiss chard also deserve to be encased in flaky pastry crust.
Making pastry dough can be an intimidating and somewhat time consuming process, but Bloomfield lays out the steps for the ideal crust consistency. Keep in mind that the dough requires time to rest and refrigerate, so consider preparing some of the ingredients ahead of time. You'll also need to make sure you have the proper pie pans on hand. Making the filling requires some patience, but is a far more forgiving process. With early spring greens and mushrooms in season this dish could make for an excellent rainy day project with hearty, crowd-pleasing results.
Mushroom Pies With Swiss Chard
Serves 4 as a Main Dish
Four nonstick mini (5-inch) pie pans
FOR THE DOUGH
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½pound (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into
½-inch pieces just before using
½ cup cold well-shaken 1% buttermilk
1 tablespoon cold water, or more if necessary
FOR THE FILLING
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 medium Spanish onion (about ½ pound), thinly sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons Maldon or another flaky sea salt
1 pound green Swiss chard, stems trimmed and cut on the diagonal into ½-inch wide slices, leaves torn in half
6 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, separated or cut into about 1½ x ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
¼ pound portobello caps, peeled and cut into irregular pieces about as large as the other mushrooms (a generous cup)
1 cup heavy cream
4 teaspoons crème fraîche
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon whole milk
Make the Dough• Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir very well. Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat with flour.
• Then work swiftly (the last thing you want is for the butter to melt) to break up and smoosh the butter lumps with your fingertips just until none are much bigger than peas. It should take 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the buttermilk and water, stir well with a fork, then use your hands to swiftly scrunch and pack (don't knead) the mixture just until it comes together into a blob. If there's lots of loose flour, gradually add more water then scrunch and pack again.
• Cut the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
Make the Filling• Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and 1 teaspoon of the Maldon salt to the pot.
• Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft with just a kiss of brown, about 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mixture to a bowl, leaving the butter behind.
• Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chard stems to the pot, and cook, stirring and scraping the pot, until they're lightly browned at the edges, about 5 minutes.
• Add the mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring almost constantly for a minute. Add the onion mixture to the vegetables and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring and scraping often, until the mushrooms are just cooked through and the chard stems are tender with a slight crunch, about 5 minutes.
• Pour in the cream, let it come to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat. Let the mixture cool completely. You can make this up to a day in advance.
• Pour just enough water into a large pan with a lid to barely cover its surface. Bring the water to a boil, add the chard leaves, and pop on the lid. Cook, stirring once, until the leaves are fully wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the chard, let it cool to the touch, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Give the leaves a rough chop and stir them into mushroom mixture.
Make and Bake the Pies• Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
• Take one of the dough halves from the fridge and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Lightly flour your work surface. Working with one piece at a time (and keeping the others, covered, in the fridge), roll the dough into a rough 7-inch round about 1/8 inch thick—rolling back and forth, then giving the dough a quarter turn, then back and forth, and so on.
• Lay it in one of the pie pans, gently pressing it against the bottom and up the sides so it fits securely. Use a knife to trim off the overhang and then put the pie shell in the fridge while you roll out the rest. Chill the shells in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
• Cut four 6-inch squares of parchment paper. Crumple each square into a ball, wet the ball under running water, squeeze out all the water, then flatten out the ball again. (This makes them more malleable.) Line each pie shell with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with raw rice or dried beans, using your fingers to make sure the rice or beans extend all the way to the edges. Put the pie pans on a baking sheet and bake, rotating the baking sheet once, just until the rim of the dough no longer looks raw, about 15 minutes. Take the dishes out of the oven, wait 5 minutes or so, then carefully remove the parchment and rice or beans. (You can save the rice or beans to use the next time you bake.)
• Divide the filling among the 4 crusts and add 1 teaspoon of crème fraîche to the center of each pie. Whisk together the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl.
• Brush the rim of the crusts with some of the egg mixture. Take the remaining dough from the fridge and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time (and keeping the remaining pieces covered in the fridge), roll into a 7-inch round about ¹⁄8 inch thick. Working swiftly, lay the rounds over each pie and press them lightly against the edge of the crust so they adhere. Trim off any overhang with a knife and crimp the edges of the pie. Brush the tops with the egg mixture, return the pies to the baking sheet, and bake them, rotating the sheet occasionally, until the tops are golden brown, about 35 minutes. A little bit of butter might leak out; that's just fine.
• Carefully invert each dish; the pie should slip right out. If not, use a knife to make sure the edges have separated from the dish. Serve them tops up on plates and eat straightaway
Video: April Bloomfield's Epic Vegetable Meals for Any Occasion