Masterchef’s Billy Wright and Jack Layer Cook Up A Bonfire Night Storm With Stuffed Pumpkins and Marshmallow Pie
This seasonal recipe pairing is made for an evening by the fireside
Words Sophie Cobley
Billy Wright and Jack Layer might be the self-professed “losers” of Masterchef, but who says Gregg and John get to dictate who wears the crown jewels? While competing in the 2016 edition of the iconic culinary TV show, the boys – yet another example of the great British love affair with on-screen bromance – won our hearts with their playful banter and inventive, boundary-pushing approach to cooking.
Fresh from their Supper Club at exclusive Covent Garden haunt Christopher’s last month, Billy and Jack are back. This time, they’re giving us our five-a-day the only two ways we’re willing to consume anything at this time of year: (a) stuffed with sage-laced sausage meat and (b) dripping in chocolate.
Kicking off this seasonal recipe pairing for your Bonfire Night dinner party are the mini pumpkins, baked whole and brimming with creamy blue cheese, British pork and crispy sage – a delicious and visually impressive savoury centrepiece.
It’s the beetroot marshmallow pie, though, that steals the show. Filled with dark chocolate, spiced rum cream and fluffy meringue, Billy and Jack’s gloriously indulgent creation takes the veggie dessert trend to a new, decadent level. You see, nice guys never really finish last.
Not only do these beauties look amazing (mini-pumpkins, come on!), they taste great and are a perfect way to use all of the amazing squash around at this time of year. You could easily make this vegetarian but we say embrace the comfort food and stuff it with sausage meat. The crispy seeds give an amazing crunch – also great on top of risotto!
4 x medium squash / mini pumpkins
1 pack high quality British pork sausages
2 sticks celery
I x apple
200ml double cream
4 x tsp wholegrain mustard
100g blue cheese
small handful sage
salt and pepper
1. Prep the squash, slice the top off the pumpkins (be careful here, the skin can be Ross Kemp on gangs tough). Scoop out the seeds (save them) and scrape a little of the flesh away so you have a nice hollow in which you can add the stuffing.
2. To make the stuffing finely dice the onion and celery and fry off in a little oil until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins into the pan and break up with a spoon to ensure even cooking. Allow to brown.
3. Grate in the apple and add the mustard, double cream, oats and blue cheese. Cook until it all melts together and the oats begin to soften. Finally, add the finely chopped herbs and season.
4. Spoon the mixture into the pumpkins and top with a knob of butter, bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 30-35 minutes or until the pumpkins are soft to the touch. Put the lids back onto the pumpkins for the last 10 minutes.
5. To make the crispy seeds wash away the flesh and dry the seeds. Add to a hot pan with a little oil and a pinch of salt and cook on a high heat until they begin to crackle and pop. At the last minute add in a few whole sage leaves until they go crispy.
6. To serve, remove the lid from the pumpkin and sprinkle on the seeds and crispy sage leaves. Place the lid back on and serve with a salad of bitter leaves.
Chocolate and beetroot marshmallow pie
There’s something incredible moreish about beetroot and chocolate, add in sweet and fluffy meringue and you get a divine dessert perfect for cold winter evenings, mornings and basically whenever you fancy a bit of a treat!
100g plain flour
100g rye flour
40g cocoa powder
3 x egg yolks
80g caster sugar
500g dark chocolate
500ml double cream
100ml dark spiced rum
1 x pre-cooked beetroot
2 x pre-cooked beetroots
8 x egg whites
500g caster sugar
1. First make the pastry. Combine the flours, sugar and butter and mix together until it feels like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and continue to combine, adding a little bit of water as you go to bind it all together. Fair warning – the rye flour does make this a little crumbly but persevere – no one has ever really cared if pastry looks good, especially when it tastes as good as this. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge until it feels as if it’s been down the gym for the last few months (firm).
2. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Remove the pastry from the fridge and carefully roll-out on a floured work surface to about half a centimetre thick. Drape over a tart case and use a bit of pastry to push the sheet into the corners of the case. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 25 minutes.
3. After 25 minutes remove the beans or rice and baking paper. Turn the oven down to 150C and continue to cook the pastry until the base looks dry, around 15 – 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool, trim the edges with a serrated knife to neaten up.
4. To make the filling heat the cream until just below boiling and pour over the broken chocolate. Mix well until the mixture becomes dark and glossy, add the rum and blend the beetroot and add the puree, mixing until combined. Pour the mixture into the pasty case and allow to cool before putting in the fridge to set, around 1-2 hours.
5. Now for the topping! Blend the remaining beetroots into a puree and set aside and then whisk the egg whites until they are stiff. Heat the sugar and water on a high heat (don’t stir, you risk the mixture crystallising!) until it reaches 121C. You need to be very accurate at this stage so watch carefully and use a thermometer. Very carefully, pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites slowly while whisking. The mixture should continue to expand and become lovely and glossy. Add the beetroot mixture and whisk until the mixture has cooled – around 5 minutes.
6. Once cool, pour your topping onto the tart and use a fork to make some swirls in the top. If you have a blowtorch you can then crisp up the topping, but be careful not to burn it!