I have seen the future. It is wrapped in pastry and answers to the name of pie.
That, among other things, is the word on the net.
Spuds, it seems, are also on the trendspotter’s radar.
The combination of rising wheat prices and interest in South American food will equal increased interest in different types of potatoes for our carb of choice.
So said Catherine Phipps (who writes for the Guardian Word of Mouth blog), in English Mum’s recent post on foodie predictions for 2011.
Others writing in the Guardian also think interest in different types of potato is on the up, if a recent article urging the prospective potato grower to consider a number of “sophisticated” French varieties is anything to go by. If you are at all curious as to what I think about the use of sophisticated as a descriptor for potatoes, or any other vegetable for that matter, may I point you to Ernie Whalley’s well-aimed riposte to the Guardian article, and simply say “what he said”.
The fact is, however, that we are likely to be subjected to more of this “sophisticated” guff in future, rather than less. As this New York Times article reports, “Vegetables, you see, are newly and increasingly fashionable”. The same NYT article makes mention of “boutique brassicas”, the sort which one would, no doubt, serve with sophisticated spuds (and thus the battle for America’s Next Top Vegetable begins…). While I am all for raising the profile of lowly vegetables (as anyone who reads this blog will know), I do prefer it when they are served without the lifestyle marketing glaze. And if they should arrive on my plate in pie form, why that’s even better.
Creamy Potato Pie
I have been meaning to make a potato pie like this for quite a while, not because of any perceived or anticipated trendiness (or sophistication, for that matter), but because I had recently read recipes from both Richard Olney in Simple French Food and Simon Hopkinson in The Vegetarian Option for just this type of preparation. It seemed like a fine thing to do.
Now, while there are many possible interpretations of potato pie – and I certainly wouldn’t want to restrict myself to just one kind – the pie I’m talking about here involves potato slices, coated in a cream sauce and wrapped in a pastry case.
For the pastry, I just used sheets of pre-made puff pastry, though you can use shortcrust pastry or whatever it is you prefer for a savoury pie crust. I’ve added some dill, lemon, olives and capers for flavouring (not to mention using some of the liquid from the jar of capers), but you can really change that to suit your mood, not to mention your available herbs and whatnot, and you can, of course, make the potato pie cheesy if you like. It’s probably the kind of thing that will be slightly different each time I make it.
- approx. 300g puff pastry (or use shortcrust)
- approx 600g potatoes (about 3 medium-sized), preferably waxy
- 125ml milk
- 125ml cream
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 0.5 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tblsp vinegary liquid from a jar of capers
- 0.25 tsp lemon zest
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tblsp capers
- 2 tblsp sliced green olives, preferably brined
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced (optional)
- 1 tblsp chopped dill leaves
- 1 tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- a little beaten egg for glazing (optional)
You’ll also need:
- An ovenproof pie dish – a 24cm round dish, about 3 cm deep, would do the trick
- If you’re using pastry that has been frozen, make sure that it’s fully thawed out. If you’re making your own pastry, well off you go and make it.
- Scrub the potatoes. Bring a pot of approx. 1.5l water to the boil, add 2 tsp salt and the potatoes. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 25 to 40 minutes, depending on size. Drain, cover the pot with a tea-towel and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, add the milk and cream to a small heavy saucepan and place over a medium heat. Warm the liquid just until it starts to form a few bubbles around the edges and remove from the heat.
- Add the crushed garlic, mustard, caper liquid, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper to the milk and cream, stir to mix and leave to cool.
- When you’re ready to put the pie together, preheat the oven to 200C.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into slices around 0.5cm thick.
- Roll out slightly more than half of the pastry and use it to line your pie dish.
- Add a layer of potato slices to the pie and scatter over the capers, olives, spring onions (if using), dill and parsley. Top with the remaining potato slices and pour over the milk and cream mixture – it should come almost up to the level of the second potato layer.
- Brush the edge of the pastry with some beaten egg or milk or just dab with some of milk and cream mixture.
- Roll out the remaining pastry and use to top the pie. Crimp together the edges, brush the top with beaten egg or milk if you like, and poke a few holes in the pastry lid using a fork or small knife.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is nicely golden, and serve the potato pie sliced and warm, either on its own or with a green salad or perhaps a piece of fish.
- You can add as much or as little to this as you like. Richard Olney’s potato tart is filled with potatoes, cream and little else. Simon Hopkinson’s version adds beaufort cheese, garlic and thyme to that base. You can also make this richer by replacing some or all of the milk with additional cream or lighten it by doing the opposite.
- Pie for 4-6 takers