Sunday, October 6, 2013

pie time for a party.

When I first came to divinity school, I wanted to keep throwing dinner parties like I did in Charleston, but there was just one small problem: I didn't have an income to pay for these parties. My mom suggested that I start a potluck supper club, which I did, and it was fun the first 3 or 4 times we did it, but most people's enthusiasm waned much more quickly than mine. Unless you really like to cook, committing to doing that once every two weeks just doesn't sound like that much fun.

Two years later and I'm trying again. This time I actually know some people in Nashville (which tends to happen when you've lived somewhere for two years), and I put out an open call on Facebook asking who was interested in joining. We had our first supper on Friday, and it was wonderful. Everyone brought amazing food--Senegalese peanut stew, butternut squash, rosemary, and goat cheese flatbread; and salted beer crescent rolls, to name a few--and several of our friends stayed for 3 or 4 hours just talking, laughing, and drinking the wide variety of pumpkin beer people brought. It was basically my dream come true.

Who knows if this iteration of the supper club will last, but I'm pretty sure I'll keep trying to make these happen as long as I live. There's just nothing I would rather do with my time than enjoy good food with good people.

Anyway, about what I brought to the party: When I was a kid, we used to have this savory pie at least 2 or 3 times a year, usually when we were in the middle of a "cold" snap (i.e., under 50 degrees). It's a magical dish, the epitome of warmth and comfort, but I hadn't made it in years. I'm not sure what reminded me of it, but as soon as I thought about it I knew I had to make it. I just ate the last leftover piece for supper tonight, and I already want to make it again. In fact, it was so good that every time I cut myself a slice I forgot to take a picture until I had already eaten a couple of bites. I promise, it tastes better than these pictures make it look.

A few notes: Feel free to substitute 1 lb. regular sausage + 1 tsp red pepper flakes if you don't have hot sausage. It's not spicy either way, but omit the red pepper if you don't want any spice at all. You can also use any frozen greens here in place of the spinach, or cook/drain about 32 oz (2 lbs) fresh greens to replace the frozen. Unless you happen to have fresh greens on hand, because you're mixing this with so many other ingredients I would stick with the frozen variety. Also, you can certainly use a pre-made refrigerated pie crust, but I think the flavor and flakiness of this recipe make it worth the effort.

cheesy spinach, mushroom, and sausage pie
serves 8

1 lb hot sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 10-oz packages frozen spinach, thawed and drained
7 eggs
2 c grated mozzarella
16 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
2 prepared pie crusts

Preheat oven to 350. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, brown sausage with garlic; drain. In the same pan, brown the mushrooms; remove from heat.

In a very large bowl, beat 6 of the eggs, and beat yolk of remaining egg with 2 tbsp water; reserve egg white. Add sausage, mushrooms, cheeses, and salt to 6 beaten eggs and mix until combined (you may want to use your hands for this).

Roll out one layer of pie crush into a greased 9-inch deep dish pie pan and brush crust with egg white. Spoon filling into the crust and top with remaining layer of pie crust. Press edges together and crimp to seal. Cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape, and brush top layer with the egg yolk-water mixture.

Bake for an hour and a half to two hours, until the crust is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out hot. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

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