Proper pies

4 Nov


A good pie is a labour of love, there is no quick pie. The beauty of pies is you can create your own combo housed under your choice of buttery pastry. I have fond memories of a duck, ginger and spring onion pie that a chef friend of mine makes. This is where I struggled to be able to impart to you a pie which I could call my ‘favourite’ I love rabbit, red wine and pancetta. But my favourite at the moment is Veal and pale ale.

The techniques I pass on in this recipe can be adapted to your perticular favourite combo. The important thing is the cooking time of the meat. For example chicken will take a lot less time to stew then the veal. The reason for the length of cooking time is you will be using stewing cuts of meat. This is meat with a higher complexity of fat as it has worked more, the veal I used was leg. The second class cuts as their know in the trade are cheaper. This does not mean they are less flavoursome, famous chefs often take great pride in creating something special from a cut of meat that is considered inferior. It is all about the preparation of your chosen meat.

Preparation time: 24 hours
Cooking time: 4 hours
Total time: 28 hours
Serves: 4
Cost per person £2.23

Prices are based on apart from veal which can be bought from a butcher, you can substitute with stewing beef


  • 500g diced veal leg
  • 750ml beef stock
  • 1 bottle of pale ale or 1 can of lager
  • 3 large carrots chopped
  • 50g flour
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 3 potatoes diced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • Pastry

  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g butter
  • Roughly 50ml of ice cold water
  • 1 whisked egg for egg washing
  • Directions:

    First of all you are looking at the prep time and your saying ‘he is shitting me’ This is my first important tip and will aid the meat to be melt in the mouth. Marinate your meat in your ale cover and put in the fridge for 24 hours. This helps break down the fat in the meat and enriches the meat with flavour.

    Then make your pastry I used home made short crust. Which I used a slightly different technique with. I grate the cold butter into the flour then breadcrumb them together. Then I bring the mix together with stone cold water, flatten slightly, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest.

    Take the meat out of the ale (keep the ale) and pat dry with a kitchen towel then cover in seasoned flour. This flour will help thicken your pie liquor. Fry the the veal chunks in a very hot oil to sear them, take them out and set aside when they are a nice golden brown. Put into a saucepan the ale that you marinated the meat in, reduce over a high heat skimming the froth or impurities from the top.

    Meanwhile sweat the onions until translucent, then add the stock, reduced ale, garlic and herbs. Bring this mixture to a boil add carrots potatoes and veal, bring back to a boil then simmer for an extra 5 minutes or so. Transfer the mix into to a oven dish, setting aside some of the liquor. Bake in a oven at low heat 180-160 degrees Celsius for 2 to 3 hours. Check mixture occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the dish and taste. Take out when satisfied and set aside to cool.

    Roll your pastry to over hang the sides of your pie dish slightly. Egg wash the edges of your pie dish and put your cooled pie mixture in. Then drape your pastry over the dish, use a fork to slightly depress the pastry around the edges of the dish. Egg wash the top of the pastry and cut a blow hole in the centre this will allow the steam of the hot mixture to escape when you bake the pie. Place the pie in the fridge to rest the pastry for half an hour. Then bake the pie for half an hour or until the pastry is a golden brown all over at 200 degrees Celsius.

    I have served my pie with some of the set aside pie liquor reduced. Also with Brussels sprouts that have been boiled in water from cold until just tender. Then cut in half and fried off with some bacon lardons and a zest of a lemon. Mmmmmmmmm



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