All Eyes On The Pies
Food & Home Entertaining|April 2017

Bye-bye – No, Hello –the Old School English (and Every Other) Vintage-style Pie, Back in Fashion and Fresh Outta the Oven, Oozing Nostalgic Goodness and Consoling Warmth on a Gloomy Day.

STEAK AND BLUE CHEESE INDIVIDUAL POT PIES

Serves 6 A LITTLE EFFORT 3 hrs 40 mins + 1 hr, to cool

THE FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS PIE FILLING 

1,5kg boneless stewing beef, cubed

50g cake flour 

15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil 

1 large onion, peeled and diced 

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

500ml (2 cups) beef stock 

250ml (1 cup) Guinness dry stout handful thyme leaves 

3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

150g blue cheese (Stilton, if you can find it, but Gorgonzola will work), broken into chunks

PASTRY 

1 x 400g roll puff pastry, defrosted but still chilled 

1 beaten egg, to brush small handful sage leaves

HOW TO DO IT 

1 For the filling, toss the steak cubes in the cake flour. Place the olive oil in a large stoveproof casserole dish over high heat. Brown the meat, in batches if necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove the meat from the dish and set aside. Lower the heat and fry the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. If necessary, add a little water to the pan and scrape with a wooden spoon to release any meat that has stuck to the bottom of the dish. 

2 Return the meat to the dish and add the tinned tomatoes, the beef stock, stout and thyme. Simmer, covered, about 2 hours 30 minutes. Add the carrots and simmer, a further 30 minutes, before tasting the stew and seasoning accordingly. Allow the stew to cool completely (place the stew in a bowl in the freezer to speed up the process).

3 To assemble the pot pies, preheat the oven to 220°C. Divide the beef stew among 6 individual 10cm diameter ramekins or cocottes and dot the chunks of blue cheese of choice over the individual pie fillings. Cut 6 discs of 10cm diameter from the puff pastry. Place the discs on top of the ramekins to create a pastry lid (use a little beaten egg on the lip of the ramekins to secure the pastry). Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with salt. If desired, use the leftover pastry to decorate the tops of the pies and brush them with the beaten egg again, before topping each with a sage leaf. Bake the pies in the preheated oven, 30 – 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden and puffed. Serve immediately while still hot.

OLD-FASHIONED ENGLISH RAISED PORK AND CHICKEN PIE

There’s not really any way around this – this traditional pie takes a while to prepare; although there’s nothing difficult about it and most of the time it takes to make isn’t active prepping, but rather baking and cooling time. Make this when you have a few hours for leisurely pottering in your kitchen, and you’re in the mood for making something rewarding. I will say that the time spent is worth the final result!

Serves 6 A LITTLE EFFORT 3 – 4 hrs

THE FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS PIE FILLING

4 chicken breasts, cut into small cubes 

500g pork sausages 

250g streaky bacon, diced handful finely chopped rosemary, sage and thyme leaves 

5ml (1 tsp) dried parsley

zest of 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 

2,5ml (½ tsp) ground allspice 

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (optional)

HOT WATER PASTRY 

450g cake flour

5ml (1 tsp) fine salt 

85g butter + extra, to grease

110g vegetable shortening (Holsum), 

chilled and cubed (available at Pick n Pay, in the butter fridge) 

125ml (½ cup) milk

125ml (½ cup) water 1 beaten egg, to brush

cranberry jelly, to serve

HOW TO DO IT

For the pie filling, add the cubed chicken breasts to a large bowl. Squeeze the pork sausages out of their casings and into the bowl with the chicken, discarding the casings. Add the bacon, fresh and dried herbs, lemon zest, garlic and allspice. Season to taste. Using your hands – a bit messy, but the best way to get everything incorporated – combine the ingredients well. If you want to check the seasoning, add a little of the mixture to a frying pan and cook, then taste the cooked mixture and adjust the flavours based on what you taste, if needed.

It’s important to make your pastry* just before you plan to bake your pie – it needs to be used while still hot, otherwise it will dry out and become too brittle. Make sure all of your pastry ingredients are weighed and ready to go, your oven is preheated to 170°C, you’ve greased either a 24cm x 14cm x 7cm loaf tin, or a 20cm-diameter round, springform cake tin with a little butter, and lined the base and all of the sides with baking paper. *The pastry isn’t difficult to make at all, but the method is one you probably won’t be familiar with – it’s more similar to a choux than a standard pie pastry, so the texture is very soft and pliable. This is correct – you’ll press the pastry into your prepared tin, as opposed to rolling it out to line the tin.

3 For the pastry, sieve the cake flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the butter, vegetable shortening, milk and water to a small pot and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour the hot mixture into the well in the flour. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix to form a smooth, pliable dough. Once the dough is cool enough to touch, knead the dough in the bowl, until smooth and elastic. Set aside in a warm place to rest, 15 minutes. 

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