Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Dinner Pies

It's that time of year again, when I can say the word "Christmas" without being shouted at for trying to drag out the festive season.  It's a lovely time of year when people seem to smile more, be a little more patient and take the opportunity to eat as much as they can in a demented fashion.  To look at people's shopping trollies in the run up to Christmas Day, you would swear that we were going to run out of food and the shops were never going to reopen.  Let's be honest, would we usually eat 20 tubes of crisps over a three-day period at any other time of year?  Supermarkets actually only close on December 25th and 26th and most other shops just close for Christmas Day.  With The Hubs working in retail, Christmas Day is his only day off over the festive season, a fact which fills me with rage every single year, despite it having been the same annually since I met him 15 years ago.

There is one thing we can't get enough of though, and that's Christmas dinner.  Every work party has it prominently on the menu, there's even turkey & stuffing flavoured crisps on the market for an extra hit of Christmas deliciousness.  And this is where my Christmas Dinner pies come in. I've been wanting to make something new and season for a while, and was working out some flavour combinations in my head, while making Alicia's Rainbow Cake (lucky I didn't get those two confused...) and this is the result.

These little pies are full of Christmas Dinner (without the sprouts, although I do have a very delicious recipe if you're interested...) and make perfect party food.  You can make individual ones like these or one big loaf, almost like a Beef Wellington with juicy cranberry sauce in the middle of every single slice.

Christmas Dinner Pies

300g Puff Pastry(feel free to use ready rolled)
1 small Onion, finely diced
25g Butter
150g Pork Mince or Sausagemeat
150g Turkey Mince
14 Sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp Thyme leaves
1 tsp Rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
12 tsp Cranberry Sauce
100g Diced Ham
Salt & Pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat your oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6.  Grease a 12 hole muffin tin and set aside

Saute the onion gently in the butter in a frying pan until very soft.  Add half of the chopped sage and fry for another minute.  Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

Roll out the pastry and cut two different sized circles : 12 x 7cm and 12 x 10cm. The larger ones are the pie bases and the smaller ones are the lids.  Gently drop the bases into the muffin tin and set the lids aside for the moment.  I'd recommend that you prick the lids with a fork at this stage to allow steam to escape during baking - it's much easier now than when they're on top of the pies (trust me, I make the mistakes, so you don't have to...)

In a large bowl, mix the pork, turkey, herbs and sauteed onion together.  Season with plenty of salt and pepper to make your stuffing base.

Now it's assembly time...

Place a tablespoon of the stuffing base into the lined muffin tins, making a little indentation in the middle.  Add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce and top with the diced ham.

Place the pastry lid on top and seal the pie by crimping the edges together with your fingers.  Feel free to use the pastry trimmings to make pretty decorations to adorn your pies.

Brush the tops with beaten egg and bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is brown, well risen and it smells like Christmas!  Allow to cool for a few moment before removing them from the tins.

Photos by Kerrie Walsh

I much prefer these warm so I give them a bit of cooling time before devouring them with some extra cranberry sauce on the side!  If you're going to reheat them, warm them gently in an oven rather than the microwave : it's worth the wait.

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