Leek pie is frequently served in my household. My wife is a vegetarian, and some of the kids have been at one time or another. It is really quite easy to make and it occured to me, in the frenzy of getting Thanksgiving dinner prepared yesterday, that I should photograph some of the stages of making a leek pie to share with people. And, there was no way I was going to have time to get out and take pictures. The lighting was not great, so the depth of field is barely tolerable in some photos, but that is what I had to work with and I expect you get the idea. I have been asked for this recipe time and again over the years – if it ever happens again, I will just send the person to my blog, and enlarge my audience too (wink). I probably learned this recipe from my mother, but don’t really remember anymore. This is not really a fixed recipe – it is just something I make and the ingredients depend on what is to hand and how absent minded I am that day. The leeks came from Moss Street market – so did the other vegetables visible in the background of the picture above.
Prepare a pie crust and place it in a medium to large sized pie plate. You choose a recipe; I took the more expedient, but perhaps less healthy, route of using the recipe on the Crisco packet, though I always use stone ground unbleached flour, with a small proportion of whole wheat flower (this time 1/3 cup out of two cups total) and organic water (just kidding). I bet any of my readers (there are almost a dozen of you now) can crimp the edges of a pie shell better than I did yestereday. My excuse is that this particular pie plate has a broad indented lip that is hard to work with. In truth, I am consistently terrible at this part of pie making.
Take two larger sized leeks. Top and tail them. Leave some of the green end to include as both the green and the yellow centres from this end of the leek add some colour to the pie. But don’t keep the really tough outer green parts of the leaves as they can be pretty stringy.
Clean the leek – this can be tedious as they get dirty inside as they grow.
I score the leaks lengthways down the exact centre (or as close to it as possible) without cutting all the way through, and then wash the exposed inner parts of the leek. Run the water from the white end so the dirt is not wedged deeper into the leek. Scoring part way through also keeps the leek together and makes it much easier to cut up.
Place the sliced leeks in a heated fry pan with oil and a bit of butter for flavour.
Gently fry at about medium heat until the leeks are soft and beginning to become a bit transparent, then remove from the heat.
Grate some cheese, a strong cheese is much preferred. This time I used an aged cheddar – it was the only strong cheese in the fridge. Use enough to line the bottom of the pie crust with quite a thick layer. Some people might want to mix the cheese with the other ingredients before putting in the crust, but I like a layer of cheese at the bottom of the filling. If you do mix them together, let the leeks cool enough that they don’t start cooking the egg before you get the pie in the oven.
Beat eggs – a larger crust will need about 6 eggs. Don’t put so much egg in the pie that it is close to spilling over, because it surely will during baking, making a fine mess in your oven.
Chop up some herbs and add to the egg with pepper. This is all a matter of taste. I used what was available yesterday, some fresh oregano and thyme from the garden and freshly ground pepper.
Put the leeks in the pie shell, or stir together with the egg. Add the egg mixture to the pie shell. Decorate the top with cut outs from pastry trimmings – let your imagination run wild. I had very little left over pastry to work with yesterday and was in a big rush, as you can see. In the past I have created, for instance, a leafy tree over the whole top of the pie. This decoration can make a huge difference to the final presentation, and even the simple one I did yesterday garnered a comment from one of the guests. Sprinkle grated parmesan or romano cheese on the top – just a thin layer to turn golden brown in the oven. If you add the pastry cut-outs after sprinkling the cheese they will be highlighted against the colour of the grated cheese when baked.
Place in an oven heated to 350F and bake for about 35 minutes depending on depth of pie shell. This one ended up cooking for 39 minutes, but on the convection bake setting which shortens cooking times. Deeper pies may take 45 or 50 minutes on a regular bake setting. It is done when firm in the middle.
If you try this recipe and like it, let me know. If you have made improvements and add them to the comments below I will try them next time I make the pie. I hope you like it.
PS: I like the web browser tab name for this recipe “Leek pie << burnt embers”. I never thought I would be writing about a recipe when I chose the blog name, and it really could not have been a poorer choice. But, on occasion, burnt embers is highly descriptive of my cooking.