My friend Maria’s country property is one of "my" places: a piece of land that welcomes me with the genuine affection of those who live there and the rolling, green shadows of chestnut trees. It’s also a place where the table is always beautiful and bountiful. I promised everyone that I would bring a pie: alheiras sausages from the Barroso with green cabbage cooked in an aromatic broth and green apples kept in a rustic, flaky pastry box. It’s perfect for a day in the country among good friends.
This pie is extravagant, I know, so if you prefer a simpler version, reduce the ingredients for a smaller pie or a few muffin-size ones.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 litre (4 cups) good-quality chicken stock
- 1 kg shredded green cabbage
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
- 400 g alheiras sausages (see Note)
- 5 green apples, cored, peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 egg, beaten with some milk, for egg wash
- 600 g (4 cups) cake flour
- 300 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cold eggs
- 2½ tbsp cold water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 30 minutes
Cooling time 5 minutes
To make the filling, heat the olive oil in saucepan pan over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then add the cabbage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the cabbage is soft and tender. Season with salt and black pepper. Drain the cabbage mixture and allow to cool. Remove the sausage filling from the casings, then combine with the cabbage mixture. Keep for later.
Meanwhile, to make the pastry, place the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and blitz until rough crumbs form. Add the eggs and water, and blitz until it becomes a ball. Put the pastry on a floured surface and divide into two. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Butter a 20 cm springform cake tin. Roll out one pastry piece on a floured surface and use to line the base and sides of the tin. Cover the bottom of the pastry with the apple slices. Spread the cabbage mixture over the top and cover with the remaining apple slices.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Roll out the second pastry piece on a floured surface and use to cover the filling. Press the edges with your fingers to seal. Make a hole in the middle so the filling can “breathe” while in the oven (I use a pastry bag tip). Brush the surface of the tart with the egg wash. If you like, using a small, sharp knife, cut out some pastry leaves and branches and place on the top to decorate. Brush with the egg wash.
Bake for 20 minutes. If the tart begins to gain colour quickly, cover with foil. Reduce the heat to 180˚C and bake for a further 25–30 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Remove the tin side and serve on the tin base to prevent the pie breaking. Serve warm or at room temperature.
• Alheiras are a type of Portuguese chicken and spice sausages. They're available from Portuguese food shops or selected butchers. Substitute with other spiced chicken sausages.
Recipe and photographs from Pratos & Travessas by Mónica Pinto.