So if you’re a regular reader (or you’ve just stopped by in search of pie recipes – in which case, welcome!), you’ll know that I’ve already published a step by step ‘how to make a pie‘ recipe. Do have a look at that one as it will give you invaluable tips on how to make pastry. This recipe kind of skips the basics, just because I don’t want to blab on and on about pastry (hey, it’s just pastry) and also because we’re now moving on to bigger, better, MORE EXCITING PIES!
This one was borne out of one of those ‘whatever’s left in the fridge’ type Sunday lunches when I defrosted a pack of beef then realised I didn’t really have much to go with it apart from a small bag of shallots. I cut mine in half, but you can leave them whole if they’re small. If you’ve haven’t got any bay leaves, don’t worry – maybe use some thyme or rosemary if you have any in the garden (remember to fish out the bay leaves before assembling the pie).
For the filling, you’ll need:
2 tbsp rapeseed or other oil
l bag of shallots, peeled (aim for two or three per person)
1 pack diced beef (400-500g should do it)
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned
About 1 litre beef stock (cube is fine)
2 bay leaves
For the pastry, you’ll need:
200g cold butter
400g plain flour
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Gently fry the shallots in the oil in a heavy based pan until the onions are starting to colour. Remove them with a slotted spoon and keep to one side.
Now add in a bit more oil.
Toss the beef in the seasoned flour, then add to the pan a handful at a time, browning it off, then taking it out and adding the next lot. You might need some more oil.
When all the meat is browned, add a slosh of stock (or red wine if you’re feeling fancy) to the pan and bubble it up to pick up every last yummy bit that’s left in the bottom. If you’re not using an ovenproof casserole you’ll need to transfer it now, adding all the shallots, and the rest of the stock (you might need to add more later).
Pop a lid on and put it in the oven at 190/gas 5 for about an hour to an hour and a half, then remove from the oven and leave to cool (I leave it by the open window if I’m in a rush). Remove the bay leaves.
While the filling is cooking, roll out the pastry.
Cut the cold butter into cubes, and add it to the flour. Add in the salt and pepper, and then either place in a food mixer or rub in the butter gently with just your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Gently beat the egg with a fork, then add to the butter/flour mixture. It’s less messy initially, if you’re making it by hand, to use a fork to just stir it around until it starts to come together. If it’s really too dry, add a tablespoon or two of cold water. Then, with your hands, bring it together into a dough. Don’t knead it, remember, just treat it very gently.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Retrieve the pastry from the fridge, flour the work surface AND your rolling pin really well. Divide your pastry into two pieces: one about 2/3 for the base and the other 1/3 for the top.
Roll the larger piece out to about 5-6mm thick, moving the pastry around in 1/4 turns as you roll until you’ve got a rough circle. This will prevent the pastry from sticking to the work surface.
Roll the pastry up around the rolling pin, then unroll it over your pie dish. Push it down gently, and use little extra bits to fill any holes or cracks. Don’t worry too much – it’s home made! Pop it back into the fridge for another 20 minutes or so.
I use a metal pie dish and don’t bake it blind (mine is by Mermaid, who do proper hard anodised aluminium tins that you can use on the hob and in the oven – they conduct the heat really well, resulting in nice, crisp pastry and an even bake) but if you’re into crisp bottoms, it’s worth scrunching up a bit of greaseproof paper, lining your pie bottom, tipping in some baking beans, and giving it ten minutes in the oven. Not compulsory by any means, although if you have a ceramic dish, I’d definitely recommend it.
Now spoon the cooled filling into the pie base. If you put hot filling into the pie as it will begin to melt the butter and you’ll get the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’.
Roll out the pastry lid, then roll up around the rolling pin and unroll over the pie. Crimp the edges with your fingers, or a fork so that they’re sealed together.
I’m rubbish at pastry, but happily, my family all really love it, so if it’s a bit thick in places or a bit crumbly, they really don’t mind. If you’re feeling arty, make some letters or cut out leaves or whatever. I sometimes write rude messages in pastry – very therapeutic. Pass swiftly on to the eggy wash department for a brush with beaten egg or milk (grab a passing child if you can) and pop in the oven for about half an hour at 180/gas 4.
Serve with the whole roast potatoes/veg/gravy accompaniments. It’s also delicious cold straight from the fridge (I have teenagers – that’s how most things disappear in our house – grabbed straight from the fridge and eaten on their way up the stairs).
I’m adding this post to Helen and Sarah‘s #bakeoftheweek challenge. I’ve got so out of the habit of joining in any kind of blogger challenges and I’d forgotten how much fun it is to skip around the internet having a look at what everyone else has been cooking. I’ve found some nice new blogs to follow too. Check it out!