Monday, June 22, 2009

Spinach Pie

I have no claim on this at all. It will be eventually posted in the section at the end with recipes by Stranieri.

This is absolutely wonderful. Of course it helps that I make a fabulous pie crust, but every other part of this is good too.

Make and chill pie crust(found elsewhere in the blog) for a two crust 9 inch pie.

Mince two large onions and saute in 4 Tablespoons of butter till they are soft and golden brown. Add three minced cloves of garlic in the last two or three minutes.
Add 3 tablespoons of flour and cook till the raw flour taste is cooked out. Do not brown it. Add 2 cups of warm milk or a mix of milk and cream. Add a dash of cayenne to taste and add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir till all is smooth and continue to stir till it thickens to a thick onion Bechamel. Set aside to cool with a skin of plastic wrap on top.

Saute a pint or more of button mushrooms, or mushrooms of your choice, cut into quarters till they are golden and tender. Salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Thaw two packages of chopped spinach. Chop it finely with a large knife then squeeze very dry. Put it in a sauce pan with about a third of the bechamel and stir constantly till it is incorporated and the spinach is cooked. Do this on very low heat. Set aside. Salt and pepper.

Cut one inch chunks of cooked ham(good quality), or have ready about half a pound of sandwich ham from the deli or about 1/3 pound of prociutto crudo.

Roll the chilled dough out into a large rectangle about the size of a jellyroll pan on a surface covered with flour. Trim any thick edges and uneven pastry off and save till the end for decoration. Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet, but make sure it is far to one side with a sheet of parchment or waxed paper under the half of the dough that will hang over the edge, parallel to the length of the pan and pastry.

If you have sliced ham or prociutto, lay it all over the dough up to about an inch and a half from the edges. The chunks of ham can go on along with the mushrooms.
Place half of the spinach in a long flattened line in the middle of the length of one half of the dough. In other words to the right or left side of center. Stop about and inch and a half from the ends. this should be neatly done and there should be a depression the length of the spinach, so that any liquids from the next layer are trapped in the depression.
Arrange the mushrooms and any pan juices evenly in the layer of spinach, perhaps pressing them slightly into the spinach.
Cover the mushrooms with another layer of spinach.
Brush the exposed pastry rim with beaten egg.
Fold the unfilled side of the pastry over the top of the filling and seal all the edges well , tucking the seamed double layer under so as to look seamless.
Brush the entire pie with beaten egg.
Roll out the pastry trimmings and cut into quarter inch strips. Lay the strips diagonally one direction then over that in the opposite direction for form a diamond pattern. Seal or tuck in the ends to make it all very neat.
Brush the decoration with beaten egg and place in a 375 to 400 degree oven(depending on your oven) and bake 35 to 40 minutes or till dark, golden brown.
While baking, reheat the Bechamel. If very thick, add a bit more milk. Grate in at least a cup and a half of your favorite cheese. I might use Gruyere or Swiss, mild cheddar or a blend with perhaps Parmesan and Fontina...really any not too sharp cheese will do if it will melt. Melt in the sauce till smooth, thinning as necessary...this should be quite thick.
Allow the pie to cool and run a pallet knife or spatula under the edges. Lift it off the sheet with a couple of spatulas onto a platter and slice crosswise at the table. Serve the onion and cheese Bechamel on the side to pour around, not on top. you do not want to hide the marvelous, decorated pastry.

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