Curried Sweet Potato and Leek Pie

Chef and author of "Shaya," Alon Shaya is making a delicious savory pie with homemade flaky pie crust.

Ingredients for Pie

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 leek, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Morton kosher salt, divided

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon Hawaij
  • 1 recipe flaky pie crust (recipe follows), pre-baked and cooled

  • ½ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Ingredients for Flaky Pie Crust

  • 2 cups (240 grams) all- purpose flour, plus more for working the dough
  • ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, very cold or frozen

  • ¼ cup vodka, ice-cold
  • ¼ cup ice water, plus more as needed

Ingredients for Hawaij (Yields 1/2 cup)

  • 2 ½ tablespoons whole cumin seeds

  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 24 whole cardamom pods
  • 14 whole cloves

  • ¼ cup ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons grated Persian lime

Directions for Pie

1. Heat the oven to 400 ̊F with a rack in the center of the oven. Peel the sweet potato and chop it into 1⁄2-inch pieces.

2. Melt the butter in a lidded skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium heat. Add the sweet potato, leek, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt; give everything a good stir so it’s coated in the fat, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Let the vegetables sweat and soften until the sweet potato is tender but holding its shape and the leek has a soft, melting texture, 15 to 20 minutes. (If your skillet isn’t nonstick, you’ll need to come back and give it a stir every few minutes.) Set aside to cool.

3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl, and beat them together with the yogurt, cream, remaining
1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and Hawaij. When the vegetables have cooled enough so they won’t scramble the eggs, fold them into the custard, and pour into the pre-baked shell.

4. Bake the pie for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the plate halfway through; it’s done when the top is golden brown all over, just barely set in the center. Scatter the Pecorino in tufts all over the top of the pie and serve warm or at room temperature.

Directions for Flaky Pie Crust

1. Whisk the our and salt together in a large bowl. Using the largest-size holes on your box grater, coarsely grate the butter directly on top of the our; use your spatula to scrape away any pieces that are clinging to the grater. Freeze the whole bowl until the butter is thoroughly chilled.

2. Use a spatula or fork to quickly fold in the butter until all the pieces are coated in flour. Add the vodka and water and continue to stir just until all the flour is moistened (the dough should still be a bit crumbly); if you need to, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3. Lightly flour a work surface and dump out the dough. Gently push it into a mound with the sides and heels of your hands until the flour is completely incorporated but you can still see streaks of butter. Shape it into a roughly 6-inch disc and wrap it in plastic or a zip lock bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until it’s firm and cold to the touch, or freeze it as long as you’d like and thaw it completely in the fridge when you’re ready for it.

4. Flour your work surface and rolling pin before unwrapping the crust; flour the top of that, too. With firm, broad strokes, roll it from the center outward, flipping it upside down and rotating it every so often to keep your rolls even and the dough round. As you work, make sure your rolling pin stays clean and well floured and use a bench scraper or the side of your hand to push in and reinforce the dough along the edges as it thins and cracks. Sprinkle flour as needed so that the dough never sticks and move it to the refrigerator if you notice the butter starting to soften. You’re aiming for a 14-inch circle about 1⁄8 inch thick.

5. Fold the dough in half (a bench scraper makes it easy to manipulate), then fold it in half again. Gently lift it into a 9-to-10-inch pie plate (preferably deep-dish), and unfold it, nudging it into the corners and up the sides. Leaving a 1-inch border at the top, trim away any extra, then flute the edges by gently pinching them around your fingertips. Freeze for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

6. Heat the oven to 425 ̊F and place a baking sheet on the oven’s bottom rack; the sheet’s heat will promote even browning on the bottom of the crust as it bakes. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, and cover it completely with parchment paper or foil, weighed down with dry beans or pie weights. Place it directly on the preheated sheet to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bottom looks set, still pale but no longer translucent. Remove the foil, and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes, until it’s pale golden all over. Cool completely before adding the filling. You can make this up to 1 day in advance and keep it covered at room temperature until you’re ready to fill it.

Directions for Hawaii

1. Grind the cumin, black pepper, cardamom, and cloves (in batches if need be), and then combine them with the turmeric and Persian lime. Stored in an airtight container, this will keep for 1 month at room temperature or for 6 months in the freezer.

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