Traditionally a popular pie filling because they were so cheap, oysters have had a radical image change over the last century. Now people prefer to eat them raw, but in these pies their soft cooked texture and metallic taste accentuates the delicate flavours of the woodland mushrooms. These pies are another opportunity to make hot crust pastry; it’s a joy to use with small pies but shape quickly as the hot pastry becomes less malleable as it cools.
1 To prepare the oysters, wrap a clean dish towel around the middle of one, holding it flat-side up and with the joint outwards. Holding the oyster over the dish towel, insert a short, strong, sharp knife into the end of the shell, where it joins. Dig in carefully and gradually, then lever the shells apart until the joint snaps. Lever the flat part up, then slice along the top inside to cut the oyster away from where it is attached. Discard the flat top, then run the knife underneath the oyster, along the curved bottom shell to remove it completely. Prepare the rest of the oysters in the same way.
2 Melt the butter in a large pan then add the garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the oysters and sauté for 1 minute. Mix in the girolles, ceps and pied bleu, then cook for 2 minutes. Mix in the cornflour and then stir in the crème fraîche, marsh samphire, dill and lemon zest and juice. Allow to cool.
3 Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5. Cut out six circles of baking parchment, 15cm/6in in diameter.
4 In a large pan, melt the lard in 200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup of boiling water on a medium heat. Place the flour in a large bowl and add a pinch of salt, then make a well in the middle of the dry mixture. Bring the lard and water up to the boil and then as it boils, pour it into the flour and mix quickly and thoroughly together with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until you have an oily but smooth, golden dough. Set aside until the dough is cool enough to touch then knead in the bowl for 5 minutes.
5 On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle to around 50cm/20in, and with a pastry or cookie cutter, cut out four 10cm/4in circles. Place each circle of pastry on to a circle of baking parchment, then cut out five 8cm/1in circles for lids. Roll out the cut-off pastry to make an additional large and small circle, placing the large one on the remaining parchment circle. Do this quickly as the dough will dry out and become less malleable as it cools.
6 Spoon about 2 heaped tablespoons of the oyster mixture on to one of the larger circles and bunch up the sides of the pastry to make a pie, pinching and shaping where necessary. Bring the baking parchment up around it, then secure by tying kitchen string around it and fixing with a box or knot. Top with a smaller circle of pastry, pinching the edge and sides together to secure. Repeat to make six pies.
7 Place the pies on a flat baking sheet and brush the pie tops with the egg. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Mushroom Cookbook by Michael Hyams and Liz O'Keefe. Copyright 2017 Lorenz Books/Anness Publishing.