Autumn is mushroom season, with a rainbow of varieties exploding in fields, under pine trees and in our local markets. And while we love dried mushrooms for seeing us through the rest of the year – giving us that meaty mushroom flavour no matter the season – they remain an important ingredient even when fresh mushrooms are in bountiful supply.
Drying quality mushrooms, like those we select for our dried mushroom range, concentrates their flavour and adds an irresistible texture. Rehydrating them, too, gifts a dark liquor that adds flavour and umami to stews, braises and even mushroom risotto.
This classic pie recipe uses dried mushrooms to add richness and flavour to the chicken, speck and leek, and a sprinkle of porcini powder to transform the simple béchamel into a punchy mushroom sauce. We’ve used garniture forestiere (a mix of shiitake, oyster, black fungus and porcini) along with a few morels, but you can deploy whichever dried mushrooms you prefer.
The best thing? While this pie is unmistakably autumnal, by using dried mushrooms it’s just as easy to find all the ingredients year-round.
Make the filling mix ahead of time so it has time to cool.
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl, tearing any larger pieces in half, and cover in boiling water. Leave for at least half an hour.
Heat the speck or bacon over a low heat until it browns and the fat properly renders into liquid (cooking it too quickly will prevent this from happening). Remove the cooked speck/bacon, but leave the fat in the pan.
Increase the heat to medium-high and fry the chicken thighs in the bacon fat. Remove when browned, leaving behind any liquid. Lower the heat again.
Cook the leak and garlic in the bacon and chicken fat over a low heat until translucent, adding the verjuice when the mix begins to dry and using it to dislodge any browned spots from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the leak, garlic and any juices from the pan into a bowl, and give the pan a quick wash and dry.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until almost simmering. Over a medium heat, using the cleaned pan, combine the 3 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp flour until the butter has melted and the flour has turned golden (about 5 minutes). Slowly pour the warmed milk into the butter and flour mix, whisking thoroughly. Continue to whisk slowly over a low heat until the mix thickens (use a stick blender if lumps remain).
Sprinkle over the white pepper and porcini powder, and stir until combined. Add the chicken, speck, leeks, garlic, the drained mushrooms, and thyme leaves and stir until evenly mixed. Season well with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and remove from heat.
Preheat your oven to 170C.
If making the shortcrust pastry, add the flour and chilled butter to a food processor and pulse until they resemble loose breadcrumbs. Add the egg and a tablespoon of icy water and pulse again until just combined. Transfer to a bench top and, using a light hand, bring together into a ball. Cover in plastic wrap or seal in a container and refrigerate for half an hour.
Grease and line a large pie tin (or multiple smaller pie tins), and roll over homemade or store-bought shortcrust pastry. Press into sides and over the lip of the tin (trimming off any excess), prick the bottom repeatedly with a fork, and cover pastry with baking paper. Fill with baking weights (or dried chickpeas, or uncooked rice) and bake for 14 minutes. Remove the weights and baking paper and return to the oven for another 12 minutes, or until the base of the pastry shell looks dry.
Spoon the cooled filling into the pastry shell(s), then cover with puff pastry, ensuring the edges of both the puff pastry and shortcrust pastry are pressed together. Cut a small hole in the pastry top, then brush with a lightly-beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes, or until top is well browned.