I love having a large freezer, but have been guilty in the past of using it only for storage. It is one thing to stand in front of a full freezer feeling quite smug, but this is of no use if you never actually eat the food. I am determined to be more organised this year, which meant a clean out was necessary if I was to store all the wonderful freezer meals I intended to cook. The clean out coincided with the arrival of my new pie maker, and the leftover Christmas ham paired with a frozen tub of bechamel (white) sauce resulted in these Creamy Mushroom and Ham Pies.
I initially made these Creamy Mushroom and Ham Pies with purchased puff pastry for the crust, which works very well indeed if you cannot be bothered making your own pastry. My preference, however, is this Kamut and Spelt Crust. I had some of this pastry left over from another recipe, and rather than feed it to the chickens I made another round of pies. The nutty, buttery flavour of the Kamut pairs very well with the mushroom filling.
Kamut is actually the trade mark name of Khorasan, an ancient variety of wheat. Khorasan grains are almost twice the size of standard wheat grains, contain up to 40% more protein, and are richer in minerals, including magnesium, selenium and zinc, than modern day wheat. I use it for the flavour it adds to bread and pastry, but it is nice to know it is good for you as well.
Use large field mushrooms for the pie filling rather than the cute button mushrooms. Field mushrooms have a more robust flavour than the baby buttons, and the intense mushroomy flavour pairs well with the wholegrain pastry. If you want to make these pies vegetarian, omit the ham and increase the amount of mushrooms in the filling.
Kamut can be quite tricky to find. I have stumbled across it in health food and organic stores, and have also bought it online. Don’t let a lack of Kamut stop you from making these pies though. If you cannot find Kamut then substitute it for wholemeal spelt in the crust recipe. Or just use puff pastry. They will still be good.
Creamy Mushroom and Ham Pies
I used a large piece of ham leftover from Christmas for these pies, however if sliced ham is all you can find use that instead.
To make these vegetarian, just omit the ham and increase the amount of mushrooms.
Assuming you do not have a pie maker, use six individual 10cm pie dishes. I have given instructions for baking these pies, however just follow the manufacturer's instructions if you have a pie maker.
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 400 g field mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 120 g ham
- 1/2 batch Bechamel Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- Salt & pepper
- Kamut & Spelt Shortcrust Pastry or purchased Puff Pastry
- 1 Tablespoons egg beaten or 3 milk
For the pie filling
- Chop the mushrooms into 1cm cubes.
- Melt the ghee in a fry pan over a medium high heat, and add the field mushrooms.
- Add the thyme leaves, and fry the mushrooms until browned.
- Stir the garlic into the mushrooms, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Remove the fry pan from the heat and allow the mushrooms to cool.
- Chop the ham into small pieces. As I used a chunk of ham, I cut mine into 2mm cubes. If you are using sliced ham, shred it instead.
- Stir the ham, bechamel sauce and chopped parsley into the mushrooms.
- Season with salt and pepper.
To make the pies
- Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced).
- Line six individual 10cm pie dishes with either the Kamut or puff pastry.
- Fill the pies with the mushroom & ham filling. I use about 1/2 cup of the filling in each pie.
- Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg or milk.
- Cut circles from the remainder of the pastry using a 12cm pastry cutter and place these on top of the filling.
- Press the edges of the pastry together to seal.
- Brush the tops of the pies with the remainder of the egg or milk.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until the pies are golden and the filling is heated through.
Kamut & Spelt Shortcrust Pastry
The secret to good pastry is to keep everything cold. I have hot hands, so tend to use a food processor to mix in the butter. You an easily do this step by hand if you prefer.
I have given an approximation for the amount of water you will require. The actual amount of water needed for the recipe is altered by so many factors, including the moisture content of your flour and humidity. Start with the lower amount and add more if necessary.
- 150 g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 145 g Kamut flour 1 cup
- 130 g white spelt 1 cup
- 140 - 160 ml ice cold water approximately
- Pinch of salt
- Add the flours, salt, and butter to the bowl of a food processor or Thermomix.
- Pulse 3 - 4 times, until the butter is cut into small chips. The butter should range from the size of a grain of rice to around the size of a small bean.
- Tip the flour mixture into a large bowl.
- Drizzle the cold water, starting with the lower amount, over the flour.
- Using a butter knife, cut the water into the flour, until there is no dry flour visible. If dry areas remain, drizzle in a little more water and repeat the cutting action.
- When all of the flour appears damp, tip the mixture onto a piece of cling wrap and pat into a 15cm round. Just gently press the dough. Do not try and work it at this point.
- Wrap the pastry in the cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I often make this pastry the day before I wish to use it.
- When you are ready to use the pastry, lightly flour the bench and the surface of the pastry.
- Roll out the pastry to the desired thickness. The pastry should remain cold at all times or it will become sticky and difficult to work with. Continue to lightly dust the bench and the surface of the pastry as required, but try to limit the amount of flour used. If at any time the pastry starts to get sticky and difficult to roll, put it on a tray and place in the fridge or freezer until it feels cool to the touch.
- Use as desired.