Saucy Dressings’ herby shallot crumble

This is a different type of pie – instead of being ‘the main event’, a pie accompanied by a salad, or a green vegetable such as peas or broccoli – this pie forms the combined accompaniment to whatever protein you are serving. It goes particularly well with gammon, a crispy helping of pork belly, or plain poached chicken for example.

It’s not a smart pie, but it’s definitely comfort food, a sort of nutritious form of colcannon if you like. The spring onions are substituted by much more substantial shallots, and some crunchy celery. And the carbohydrate in the mash is substituted for a thinner layer of oats, breadcrumbs, and sesame seeds. The butter is substituted for crème fraîche.

I first got the idea from a stunning emerald-green creation on Chef Paul Collins’ Instagram feed. His version also includes shallots, mushrooms, spinach, herbs, breadcrumbs and butter.

But it is, a very different approach. Mine includes other things (more storecupboard, less fresh), including a generous dollop of Dijon mustard. Not everyone likes mustard, so if you are concerned, you can simply omit it from the recipe, but serve it separately at the table for people to help themselves.

If you do that, you could push the boat out by serving the mustard in something splendid like this fabulous piece made by the silversmith Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot (1763-1850), commissioned by a ‘confidente’ of the Russian empress. If you want to have a close up view of it, you will have to visit the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam.

The crumble goes very well with plain poached chicken breast, and a garlicy sauce made of a mix of mayonnaise and yoghurt, and a clove or two of peeled garlic crushed with textured salt. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

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