Pies have been recorded as early as the Neolithic Period, around 9500 BC. The ancient Egyptians’ diet featured basic pies made from oat, wheat, rye, and barley, and filled with honey and baked over hot coals…
I would never get into a discussion as to who makes the best pies as all around the world if you start a discussion on the merits of pie…Someone’s mum always makes the best pies for me my mum does…Be it Steak and Kidney, Fish Pie, Mince pies or an Apple pie her pastry is the best and her pies lauded …
A pie can have a top and a bottom or just a top and it could be a pastry or potato topping…Plain or latticed…There is no end to the variations of the fillings or the case or indeed the type of pastry…
My Hubbies all-time favourite is the Steak and Kidney Pie…
Speaking of which however hot it gets and it is currently only 10am and 30C and rising…Hubby will still eat meat pie…I make individual ones and then he can have pie and I have my Thai food…
For fillings, I either make mince and onions, Steak and Mushroom, Steak and Ale or hubby’s favourite steak and kidney…Chicken and Mushroom or Chicken and Leek Pie…BUT of course not forgetting the British favourite Apple Pie…
For the pastry
- 250g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 140g cold unsalted butter, roughly cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 small egg whisked with 1 tbsp milk, for the egg wash
For the filling…Steak & Kidney
- 1 ox kidney, about 400g/14oz, get it fresh from your butcher. Pig’s and lamb’s kidneys only need short cooking time so if used add 15 mins before the end of cooking.
- 1 kg trimmed braising or stewing beef
- 250g flat mushrooms, unpeeled but wiped with a damp cloth
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100g unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, peeled and thickly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 50-85g plain flour, depending on how thick you like your gravy
- 600ml fresh stock or water and 1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
- 1 large bay leaf
- salt and freshly ground pepper
It’s important to cook the meat a day ahead so that you can discard any fat that has risen to the top, and so that the pastry doesn’t slump in the face of a too-warm filling, so up to 48 hours ahead -make the pastry. Whizz the flour and a pinch of fine sea salt together for a few seconds in a food processor, then add the butter and whizz until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk together the egg yolk and 3 tbsp water and whizz with the pastry until it collects in a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least one hour…
TO COOK THE MEAT.
Cut out the white central core of the kidney and (discard). Cut the kidney into bite-sized pieces. Cut the beef into bite-sized cubes and cut the mushrooms into chunks.
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Throw in the kidney and fry until lightly coloured. Tip into a colander to drain.
Wipe out the frying pan and return it to low-medium heat, adding 25g/1oz of the butter and 1 tbsp oil. Tip in the onion and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly golden add the garlic for the final 2/3 minutes.
Transfer to a large casserole, using a slotted spoon.
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3/fan 140C. Tip the 85g/3oz flour into a large plastic bag, and season it generously. Throw in the beef and shake until lightly floured. Return the frying pan to medium-high heat, adding a little more oil and butter if needed. Shake off any excess flour (reserving it) then fry the beef in batches until golden-brown. As each batch is done, transfer it to the casserole.
Adding more oil and butter to the frying pan if necessary, fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes until starting to wilt, then add them to the casserole with the drained kidneys, stock or hot water, bouillon powder and bay leaf, plus the excess flour in the bag if you like a thick gravy.
Stir well, cover and cook in the oven for 75-90 minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick. Cool thoroughly, then put in the fridge (preferably overnight) so any fat will solidify – it can then be skimmed off and discarded the next morning.
In the morning – return the pastry to cool room temperature, then roll it out thinly on a well-floured surface. Invert a 28-30x23cm, 6.5cm deep pie dish on to the pastry. Mentally add an extra 1cm all round, then use the dish as a guide to cut out the pastry lid. From the remnants, cut out enough 6cm-wide strips of pastry to go round the dish – they should cover the flat rim and about halfway down the insides.
Lightly butter the rim of the dish and line it with the strip(s) of pastry, sealing any joins with a little dab of water. Butter the shoulders of a pie raiser or an upturned egg cup and stand it in the middle. Spoon in the meat mixture to come level with the top of the dish.
Don’t overfill: reserve any excess gravy to serve hot with the pie.
Brush the pastry rim with a little water, then drape the pastry lid over it, pinching the edges to seal. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge if not baking immediately.
Finally, an hour before serving – preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C. Make four slashes in the lid of the pie, then brush with the egg wash. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, turning the heat down 10-20º after about 20 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and leave it to rest for around 10 minutes before cutting into it.
These instructions are if you are making one large pie…If I am making individual pies I just cut a strip of pastry to go around the top of the dish fill the dish with the meat mixture and add a pastry top…This cuts the calories…But if you like a large pie and want to cut nice slices then a pie bottom can be added.
Of course, the cooking time will also need to be adjusted…For an individual pie depending on your oven, it takes approx 25 mins.
To celebrate British Pie Week... Tweet #britishpieweek
We can’t forget to mention the Apple Pie…Can We?
Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a lovely weekend I look forward to your comments and what your favourite pie is… Enjoy your pie xx