Celebratory Celeriac + Sweet Garlic Pie
This has been my Christmas centrepiece for the last couple of years. It is everything I want in a pie: a Cheddar and winter herb flaky pastry; a creamy filling, sweet with balsamic garlic and roasted celeriac; and a crisp grated celeriac roof. This high-sided pie takes a little time, but at Christmas I think that’s okay.
FOR THE PASTRY
250g plain spelt flour, plus a little extra for dusting
125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
a few sprigs each of rosemary, thyme and sage, leaves picked and finely chopped
the zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
25g good Cheddar, grated
1 medium egg yolk
50–70ml cold water
FOR THE FILLING
3 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon runny honey
2 sprigs each of rosemary, thyme and sage, leaves picked and finely chopped, plus extra to finish
220g Lancashire or good Cheddar cheese, crumbled
150g crème fraîche
the juice of 1⁄2 a lemon
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
a small bunch of parsley, chopped
2 organic eggs, beaten
Put the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and salt. Rub gently with your fingertips until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the herbs, lemon zest and Cheddar.
Beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Add to the flour and mix until it forms a dough. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until it comes together into a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
For the filling, put the cloves of garlic into a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 2–3 minutes, then drain.
Wipe the saucepan dry. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fry on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and 100ml water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Add the honey, most of the rosemary and thyme (reserving the
rest, with the sage) and a good pinch of salt. Continue to cook on a medium heat for a further 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark syrup.
Meanwhile, peel the celeriac and cut it into quarters. Set aside 300g and slice the rest into 2cm-thick pieces. Put them into a saucepan, cover with hot water and boil for 7–10 minutes, until they are soft and have turned slightly translucent.
Drain and tip into a big mixing bowl. Add the cheese, crème fraîche, lemon juice, mustard, parsley, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and eggs. Add a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper and gently fold in the garlic cloves.
Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan/gas 4. Sprinkle flour onto a work surface and roll out the pastry to 3–4mm thick. Line a 20cm-diameter cake tin with the pastry, ensuring a little spills over the edges.
Pour the filling into the pastry case. Coarsely grate the reserved celeriac and pile it on top. Finish with the reserved rosemary and thyme, all the sage, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown.
Remove from the oven, leave to cool a little, then take it out of the tin. Lay a few herbs on top and serve warm.
IMAGE: Ana Cuba