Sunday, 13 December 2009

Eating well the Frederick Marquis way

With time ticking on this experiment beginning (2 January), I'm going to have to tackle a proper Woolton Pie.

I already do a modern version that CJBS loves, but that version isn't as economical on rationed and short-supply items. My version uses no discrete fat but does use too much cheese and too much fat in the pastry.

For my usual version, I take seasonal root vegetables peeled and chopped and put them in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook, covered, on a medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don't stick to the bottom. This causes the vegetables to sweat. When the pan has liquid in the bottom, I add mushroom essence (bottled or from the liquid dried mushrooms have soaked in for a few hours), stir well again, and then add grated cheese - about two handfuls. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted around the vegetables and take off the heat.

Make (or buy, I'm not proud) shortcrust pastry, line a pie dish with it, then tip the vegetable mix in without the liquid. Cover with more pastry and bake in a moderate oven until the pastry browns. Serve with gravy. You can also top with mashed potato instead.

Now, Woolton Pie is designed to use almost no fat. The basics are the same, but without the cheese and without the shortcrust pastry. For the former, gravy browning takes the liquid and stiffens it. For the latter, it uses potato pastry, basically made from rubbing the potatoes with other ingredients forever, or a similar version that also uses grated carrot. Either way, the pastry doesn't keep. Make and use immediately, else it goes an unappealing grey, warns Marguerite Patten.

The result could be truly boring and even fat-free mash would be better, but I fancy the challenge of making something interesting out of it. So that's tomorrow evening's plan.

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