I just love this time of year. Putting a (new) warm coat on, thick socks and (new) winter boots (yes, I’ve been shopping). Going out for the day into the crisp chilly air, then coming home to make comfort food like this. Put the radio on, and get on with the job of making a huge pie. I love it. We’ve started having a fire most nights, and the time I put my ‘jamas on is getting, embarrassingly, earlier and earlier. It’s dark so it’s allowed, I say. I’m cosy and I don’t care.
If you want to make a dinner for people that is going to put a big smile on their faces and thoroughly warm their cockly bits, then this is the recipe for you. My mother in law makes a mean meat and potato pie quite often, and I absolutely love it. She serves hers with mushy peas and red pickled cabbage – so awesome. This is my version, which I served with normal cabbage, carrots and the gravy (which, handily, is made at the same time as the pie). I just added a few more vegetables into the mix to make it all the more wholesome. My pie is enormous (the dish is 24cm), but feel free to half proportions and make a smaller one in a smaller dish. I warn you though, I fed 4 adults and 2 kids with this beast and it was demolished in 10 minutes flat.
I just found out that Grazia featured my Mac and Cheese with Bacon Mushrooms and Spinach! Well chuffed with that! That particular Mac and Cheese is another classic in the genre of “It’s winter now so let’s eat stodgy comfort food and put on half a stone” territory. Yay!
So you could buy shortcrust pastry and it would be fine. But the homemade stuff is dead easy and soooo good. Have a go! Have tagged this ‘Weekend Feasting’ as I don’t think it’s a midweek tea. There is a bit of work involved but it’s definitely worth it.
Serves: 6 adults
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
800g stewing beef (chuck steak or similar), diced into bite size pieces
800g potatoes, peeled and diced into bite size pieces
1 carrot, diced very small
1 leek, diced very small
2 small onions (or 1 large), diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons of Henderson’s Relish (like Lea & Perrins, use that if you have it)
1800ml beef stock (I used a decent stock pot condensed thing, but Oxo is fine too)
4 x tablespoons of plain flour
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of oil – vegetable or olive oil
2 x bay leaves
To thicken the gravy once separate from pie mixture:
A little gravy granules / Bisto powder / cornflour and water
For the pastry:
400g plain flour
200g butter, cut roughly into cubes
4-6 tablespoons of cold water
A little milk or beaten egg to glaze
- First put the stew on. Heat some oil in the largest pan you have over a high heat. Brown the meat in batches so it gets lots of colour on and doesn’t steam.
- Once that is done, remove the meat and set aside. Turn the heat down, add a little more oil and sweat the onion, carrot, leek and garlic. Do this for about 10 minutes, until soft.
- Add the meat back in along with 4 tablespoons of flour. Stir this in to coat the meat and veg.
- Now for the stock and Henderson’s (or L&P). Toss in the bay leaves, black pepper and bring to boil. Then simmer for 1 hour with the lid on. Don’t be alarmed as there is so much liquid – this is going to be your gravy as well.
- Now do the pastry. I do mine in a food processor. Simply add roughly chopped chunks of butter to flour and salt. Whizz to breadcrumbs. Then add the water, 4 tablespoons to start, only adding more if needed. Bring together to make a very short dough (don’t worry if it’s crumbly, once it’s chilled it’ll be easier to handle). If you’re making by hand, rub in the fat into the salted flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then mix in water and bring together to make a dough. Chuck in fridge for about an hour.
- Once the meat has stewed for an hour, add your peeled and cubed potatoes. Cook for a further 20 minutes, or until they are cooked but still firm enough not to fall apart.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Using a sieve over a large bowl, carefully strain the mixture of most of the gravy. Put the pie mix into a pie dish and set the gravy to one side. (It will be quite thin still but you can thicken either using a little gravy granules or cornflour and water).
- Roll out the pastry. Cover the pie and cut off the extra with a sharp knife. It doesn’t matter if it cracks a bit. Mine did. It’s more homemade this way, which is a good thing!
- Using a fork, crimp the edges to stick the pie down to the dish. Put 2 little slits in the centre of the pastry with a sharp knife, brush with milk or beaten egg to glaze.
- Bake for 30 mins on 200C. To thicken the gravy, stir some cornflour and water (about 3 teaspoons, mixed with a little cold water) into it and reheat, stirring every so often. Or do the same with gravy granules.
- Watch in amazement how quickly people eat your humongous pie. The greedy gits! ; )