I have been threatening to make a pie for years, long before I started teaching myself to cook on this blog. Not counting that quiche or the flan I threw together last year – or my world famous indestructible mince pies – this is my first ever proper pie. My pie-ginity.
There has never been anything putting me off about making a pie, it was all down to quantities. Most recipes make big pies, usually for 6, never for two. I’m a bit picky about which dishes I make half of and which I eat a second day; for example I couldn’t work out the best way to make that moussaka smaller. Also, I don’t have a small enough pie dish to try even if I wanted to. This recipe, from the blue Hairy Bikers book claimed to be just as good served cold, so I gave it a go. Like last weeks drumsticks, this would also be great for a picnic – which is exactly the same as a party, but with ants.
For a man who is picky about meat I’m always surprised that my lover will eat corned beef; it always makes me feel a bit sick when it makes that sucky sound sliding out the tin.
If you have a pathological fear of making pastry you could buy a block ready made from the supermarket, or you could try making with the blender (I’d never done it this way before, but it’s insanely easy). To make this 6 man pie you will need: 15g butter, sunflower oil, 1 large onion, 2 celery sticks, 2 carrots, 300g floury potato (like Maris Piper), tomato ketchup, a 340g tin of corned beef, and some freshly ground black pepper. For the pastry you will need 300g plain flour, sea salt, 175g butter and an egg.
If you don’t have a food processor don’t worry, you can still make the pastry by hand, but you might need to let it cool a bit in the fridge. You will need a 20-23cm pie dish/pie plate/victoria sponge tin. And an oven.
First up, you will need to finely chop the onion, and cut the potatoes and carrots into (approximately) 1cm cubes. De-string and cut the celery up too. As you know I don’t like to make substitutions or alterations to recipes the first time I make them on here, but all rules can be broken when celery is involved… I de-strung two sticks, but whimped out at the last minute and fed one to my lover.
Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan and cook vegetables (and celery) over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Keep stirring regularly until they have softened and begin to look more cooked. Stir in a big blob of tomato ketchup (about 3-4tbs worth) then add the corned beef. Season the beef with loads of pepper (to hide the celery taint) and break it into chunky pieces and stir into the veg/ketchup. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool for about 20 minutes (depending on how quickly you can make pastry and line the dish).
Put the oven on 190c/Gas 5
Pastry time! Put the flour, butter and salt into your blender and pulse it until it looks like breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with a table spoon of really cold water. Gradually pour the egg into the pastry mix while pulsing the blender and as if by magic it will become a ball of pastry. Keep 1tbs back to brush on the top (you can bulk it up with a splash of milk if you need more)
I buttered my pie dish because I wasn’t sure how non-stick it was, but you don’t have to (I’m neurotic about things getting stuck in dishes). On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll approximately a third of the mix out so it is big enough to cover the bottom and sides of the dish, spilling over the side to give the lid something to stick to.
Spoon the veg mix into the empty pie. Roll out the rest of the pastry large enough to form a lid (maybe keep a bit back for some sort of decoration) but before fitting the lid paint round the edge with some of the reserved egg. Seal the join between the pie and the lid with your thumb or a fork and the cover the top with the rest of the egg (add any decoration and egg that too) make some small holes in the lid for the steam to escape and put it in the oven for 40 minutes until the pastry is golden. I wasn’t going to decorate it but my worktop is rubbish for pastry and it tore, so I added the lips as a patch, and then the other ones for decoration!
The Hairy Bikers recommend having this with baked beans, which pleased my lover no end. I had marrowfat peas because I don’t like baked beans either…
The first side was a bit of a fight getting it out of the tin, but boy was it worth it! I was surprised how tasty this was. I’d thought it might be a bit bland, but it wasn’t – surprisingly so considering the closest thing to a load of spice was a big blob of tomato ketchup and a stick of celery. The pastry was sturdy but not tough, which is just about ideal.
I would maybe cook the veg a tiny bit longer, while it was nice that the carrot still had a bit of bite the potatoes were also a bit hard, which might have been down to the potato.
The second day was just as good… possibly even better, I’m not sure if the fridge cooled ketchup and beef/pastry fat took on that cold pizza quality? Either way it was delicious. I think this would be ideal for a picnic, cooled whole and cut into slices – ideal with some nice bread and a spot of salad under a tree on a nice day, but equally ideal to warm your soul on a grey rainy day with a tin of beans
I’m definitely making this again.
The Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook Mums Still Know Best (by Si King & Dave Myres Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN: 978 1 4072 3380 2)