Saturday, 8 March 2008

Slab Pie

Crust
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter,
   very cold
3/4 cup very cold water

Filling
1 pound potatoes, cut into thinnish slices
10 ounces spinach
1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar
   cheese
Green onions cut into small pieces
10 - 12 large eggs with 1 large egg
   white separated
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

For this recipe especially, you should read the whole thing over 
before starting, as there are several alternatives to choose from.

Make pie crust:

  • Whisk together flour, and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. 
  • Using a pastry blender work the cold butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. 
  • Gently stir in the water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. 
  • Hand knead it just two or three times to form a ball. 
  • Divide dough roughly in half.
  • Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. 
  • Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days (the longer the better).
  • Heat oven oven to 375 degrees F. 
  • Line bottom of 10x15x1-inch baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.


Prepare filling:

  • Place sliced potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. 
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking for 7 to 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender but not falling apart. 
  • Drain.
  • Wash spinach but no need to dry it. 
  • Place wet spinach in hot skillet and cook until it just wilts. 
  • Consider alternatives below and pre-cook in skillet as well.  
  • Drain in a colander, pressing or squeezing out as much liquid as possible. 
  • You should have about 1 cup of spinach once wilted and squeezed. If spinach leaves were large, you might want to roughly chop the squeezed-out piles of spinach before adding it to the filling.


Assemble pie:

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll one of your dough halves into an 18-by-13-inch rectangle as best you can. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible and using just enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter. 
  • Transfer to your prepared baking sheet and gently drape some of the overhang in so that the dough fills out the inner edges and corners. Some pastry will still hang over the sides of the pan; trim this to 3/4-inch overhang.
  • Layer vegetables evenly over bottom pie crust ~ potatoes first ~ see filling above and alternatives below.
  • To start with beat 9 eggs plus 1 extra yolk (set white aside), and place in a container that pours easily. Depending on your fillers you may need to use more eggs but you do not want to fill the crust to the top with eggs.
  • Pour beaten eggs over filler, adding more if necessary. 
  • See alternatives below.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese over pie.
  • Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  • Roll the second of your dough halves into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. 
  • Drape over filling and fold the bottom crust’s overhang over the edges sealing them together. 
  • Cut only a couple tiny slits in the lid to act as vents — too many or too big, and the filling will want to leak out before the eggs set. 
  • Using set aside egg white, brush over lid.


Bake pie: Until crust is golden and filling is set, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool a bit before cutting into squares.


Alternatives:

  • You can slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. To defrost, leave in fridge for 4 days. 
  • Baked slab pie will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Squares can be reheated as needed. 
  • Vegetables can be prepped (spinach wilted, potato par-boiled, others pre-cooked, see below) and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before using.  It's actually almost better to prep vegetables the day before as they then have an opportunity to leak more liquid (which should then be discarded before placing vegetables on pie).
  • Before adding cheese to the top, various additions, such as chopped pre-cooked tomatoes, pre-cooked sliced mushrooms, pre-cooked sliced zucchini, shredded cooked meats, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce (what do you like?) can also be sprinkled over the top.  Just don't pile things too too high.  
  • This recipe makes lots - 12 good sized portions, but it freezes well.  Thaw out, microwave and it's wonderful!  Great for a hearty breakfast, light lunch or as a pretty substantial side dish.