A cheesy cauliflower casserole wrapped up in a slab pie with a rye crust. Oh my!
Have you ever had Welsh Rarebit? When I was a kid (and long after that), this was one of my favorite dinners. Mom wasn’t an adventurous cook, so our version always came from a box with the Stouffer’s banner plastered across it. It was years before I realized how easy it was to actually make. Cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard make up the base, along with some kind of liquid. Beef broth is popular, but this recipe nails it with a dark Stout beer like Guinness. So it’s kind of like a cheesy cauliflower casserole with that Rarebit tang, wrapped up as a slab pie with a rye crust. And yes, it’s just as amazing as it sounds.
But let’s back up just a bit.
A few months ago, Cathy Barrow reached out to me to review her latest cookbook, Pie Squared. We first met on the Food52 site many years ago. We often tested each other’s dishes, so I knew I’d love it before I even opened the cover. Her first cookbook, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, was a solid hit, and was the recipient of the 2015 IACP Winner for Best Single Subject Cookbook. And her new cookbook delivers again in a huge way!
There are lots of tips:
Pie Squared-Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pie is a beautiful book that’s packed with valuable information as well as delicious recipes. The first chapter provides a detailed primer for ensuring your pie crust comes out perfect every time, whether do it by hand, use a food processor, or standing mixer. And there are photographs accompanying many of the steps.
There are tips for rolling out dough, crimping crust, and even on crust ingredients. One of my favorite tips in the book is to use masking tape to outline the size pie shell you’re rolling for. I always have a tape measure nearby, but marking it out on your counter is a great time saver.
There are 3 sections to the recipes:
- First, there are 15 recipes for Crusts, such as the Rye Crust used in this recipe, and press-in crusts. Examples of the press-in crusts are Cookie Crumb Crusts and a Cornbread Crust. I’m trying out the Hash Brown Crust next week. This section ends with Crust-Free Toppers, which are all great ideas for the upcoming holidays.
- Second are Savory Pies. My cookbook copy has a ton of dog-eared pages in this section. My husband, Carnivorous Maximums, has requested the Beefy Empanada Slab Pie, but first I’m making the Sesame Sweet Potato Slab Pie.
- Third are Sweetie Pies. I love them all, and I’m already planning to have leftover cranberry sauce so I can make the Leftover Cranberry Sauce Slab Pie. And did I mention that there’s a photo of Every. Single. Pie? I love that.
- At the end of each recipe, Cathy provides page numbers for applicable Technique tips, and offers Swap ideas. Swaps include suggestions for alternate crusts, as well as pie filling adjustment ideas.
The book ends with tips for slicing, storing and freezing slab pies.
Truly, everything you need to know before you make your next pie. Just click on the below icon/link to place your order on Amazon.
By the way, I used an OXO Non-Stick Quarter Sheet Pan 9″ X 13″, which is available on Amazon as part of a 2-piece sheet pan set. It was the perfect size, and the non-stick surface made it super-easy to lift out individual pie pieces.
Here are some links for you to go check them out!
We both LOVED this slab pie. It combines that fabulous Welsh Rarebit cheesy sauce with shallots and cauliflower florets steamed in Stout beer, and a Rye Crust. Honestly, what’s NOT to love!!! The layers of flavor are addictive, and the hardiness of the pie makes it a satisfying vegetarian dinner on a cold night. I only needed a salad to complete my meal. Oh, and I finished off the Stout beer with my dinner, grateful that I’d bought a large bottle.
High Altitude Tips (if you live in the mountains like I do)
- First, I don’t typically make changes to a buttery pie crust for high altitude, but if you find the dough a little dry after adding the ice water and (optional) vodka, add a little more water. Flour, a dry ingredient, contains even less moisture in high altitudes. As a result, it absorbs more liquid than at sea level. You may be tempted to reduce the amount of flour, since it’s so dry, but don’t. Flour provides the structure.
- I used Light Rye flour, and for the record, I didn’t need to make any adjustment for liquid in the crust recipe. If you use Dark Rye flour, however, you may need to add another 1 – 2 tablespoons of liquid if you’re making this at 6000 ft and higher.
- For altitudes 6000 ft and higher, I recommend increasing the liquid for the filling as follows: 2/3 cup whole milk instead of 1/2 cup, and 3 large eggs + 1 egg white instead of 3 large eggs. The egg adjustment was perfect since I was using the yolk for basting the crust before baking.
Cheesy Cauliflower Rarebit Slab Pie with a Rye Crust
- 1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon (225 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (100 g) rye flour
- 8 tablespoons (113 g) butter, cubed and frozen for 20 minutes
- 8 tablespoons (113 g) Spectrum or other vegetable shortening, cubed and frozen for 20 minutes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) ice water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ice cold vodka, optional
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups (160 g) sliced shallots (about 5)
- 6 stalks fresh thyme
- 1 medium cauliflower (1 pound, 455 g) cut into small florets (about 5 cups)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) dark beer, such as Guinness
- 1/4 cup (15 g) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Coleman's mustard
- 10 ounces (283 g) extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 cup (25 g) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
For the crust:
In the food processor, pulse the flours, butter, shortening, and salt until the fats are in small pieces coated with flour, about 15 times. Add the water and vodka (if using) all at once and process until the mixture almost forms a ball. Form the dough into a 6- by 4-inch rectangle using plastic wrap and a bench scraper to firmly press the dough into a cohesive form. Wrap tightly and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly. Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece to 11 by 15 inches and place in the slab pie pan, pressing it into the corners of the pan and allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Refrigerate. Roll out the second piece of dough to 10 by 14 inches, place it on a lightly floured sheet of parchment, and refrigerate.
Heat the oven to 425˚F; if you have one, place a baking stone, Baking Steel, or inverted baking sheet on the center rack to heat.
For the filling:
Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the shallots and thyme and cook until the shallots are browned on the edges. Fish out and discard the thyme. Add the cauliflower and stir to coat with oil. Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in the beer, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and steam the cauliflower until fork-tender, about 7 minutes. Uncover and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
Fill the bottom crust with the cauliflower filling. Whisk together the milk, eggs, Worcestershire, and mustard in a small bowl until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated. Pour over the cauliflower filling, sprinkle with the cheddar cheese, and cover with the top crust. Crimp and slash.
Combine the egg yolk and water and use a pastry brush to paint it on the top crust from edge to edge. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and slip the pie into the hot oven (on top of the steel, stone, or baking sheet if using). Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375˚F and bake until the crust is bronzed and the filling is bubbling, 25-40 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing into portions.
Make Ahead: Cook the cauliflower filling up to 4 hours in advance.
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies by the publisher, as well as an OXO quarter baking sheet. All opinions are my own.
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