Did you know that this week is Great British Pie Week? Not that we need any reason to celebrate the Great British Pie (yes, those words do need to start with capital letters), but I’m not going to let this pie opportunity pass me by. When it comes to pies, we really are spoilt for choice – the various steak pie incarnations, a glorious, creamy chicken pie, fish pie…the list goes on and on. So where do you start when it comes to creating your own? Here are my top pie tips and if you’re not going to follow them this week, then when are you?
First up, the pastry. This is the main reason why the prospect of a homemade pie scares me. I tend to do my cooking as and when, which means planning ahead is a rare occurrence. I’m not an expert when it comes to pastry of any description, but I’ve always been under the impression that it requires, delicacy, forethought and patience (please correct me if I’m wrong) – qualities that don’t come easily to me I’m afraid. So my top pastry tip that’s sure to increase the likelihood of a homemade pie making an appearance in your oven? *whispers* buy readymade puff pastry. I know, I know, it’s not, strictly speaking, ‘homemade’ but if pastry is as terrifying to you as it is to me, I think it’s worth the sacrifice, especially when it means you can get on and make that delicious pie filling.
Secondly, pastry. No, it’s not déjà vu. What I mean is, do you really need to make a pie with pastry? If you’re desperate for some pie time, how about a classic shepherd’s or cottage pie? Not only is the mash potato topping delicious and a doddle to make, but they are also a great way to use up leftovers. If you’ve failed to polish off a giant joint of roast beef of lamb on a Sunday afternoon, instead of having cold cuts for a few days, put it in your pie. Not all of us have access to a mincer, but you can just chop up the meat into small chunks. Fry up some chopped onion, garlic and grated carrot with a pinch of salt for a couple of minutes until tender then remove from the pan. Fry your meat in the hot pan, then put the vegetables back in. Add some stock, a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree and seasoning. This is where the fun part comes in – raid your store cupboard and fridge for the extras. I’ve always got jars hiding on the back of shelves containing scraping of various relishes and mustards. A few tablespoons of mint sauce are a must if you’re making shepherd’s pie, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce is always welcome. Cook the lot down for 30 minutes or so until the sauce thickens, pop it in a baking dish and top with the mash potato. Cook in the oven until golden brown.
So instead of having a roast this Sunday, celebrate by substituting it with Great British Pie instead. And just a little afterthought, a couple of weeks ago, it was the official Chip Week of 2014. I recommend that next year, we combine the two and create the first ever Pie and Chip Fortnight – who’s with me?