We do get the odd pang, every now and then, for some good old English comfort food (remember our recipe for home made crumpets many moons ago?) and recently, during a rare cold snap in Fethiye, our bodies just decided it was time for a bit of that type of food. That type of food where you forget about calories and fat content and you just sit in front of the fire and take pleasure in fulfilling that craving – Barry decided to make us a big, fat meat and potato pie.
Being from Wigan, we’re no strangers to pies. Wiganers are known in England as ‘Pie Eaters’ by those folks from surrounding towns. Some people use it as a bit of a mocking nickname – but us Wiganers are quite proud of it…because there’s no denying, we do eat pies. Even the local bakeries; when we were kids, they sold all sorts – bread, cakes, pasties, sausage rolls, sandwiches – but there was always a vast array of pies; and the local bakeries were called ‘the pie shop.’ Not too sure what the health standards of your average Wiganer is as a result of this ‘pie upbringing,’ but there you go…
A Recipe For Traditional English Deep Dish Meat & Potato Pie
Meat and potato pie is a favourite. Everyone had their own favoured pie shop because some Wiganers like a pie with lots of gravy inside, some like a chunky filling with little gravy, some prefer a velvety pastry while others like a golden crust. These days, lots of the traditional pie shops have disappeared – closed down or taken over by national bakery chains – but at least we can still make our own.
And, first things first, we need to make the filling for our pie. As is usual with us, quantities are a bit haphazard, as you’ll see further through this recipe.
- Finely chop two onions.
- Gently heat a little sunflower oil in a deep pan, add the chopped onion and heat gently until they start to sweat.
- Peel 2 medium sized potatoes and cut them into bite-sized cubes.
- Add those to the pan and stir around for a few minutes, taking care not to let the potatoes stick to the bottom.
- Now add 300g minced beef (we used orta yağlı – half fat) and keep stirring to break up the meat and allow the juices to release.
- Once the meat has browned, add 2 dessert spoonfuls of plain flour and a small sprinkling of gravy granules and mix together.
- Now add a mugful of hot water, pouring slowly, while stirring. This bit depends on how much gravy you like to be in your pie. Add more water if required.
- Leave to simmer for 15 minutes or so until your potatoes have softened and then remove from the heat.
For the pastry casing
Now we need to make our pastry casing. Some pies just have a lid but we are making a deep dish pie in a full case – this is how they were in Wigan, and this was what we wanted in Fethiye’s cold weather.
And it’s simple really. Half the amount of fat to flour – it’s just the quantities you need now. We used 300g plain flour and 150g fat (our fat was a combination of butter and margarine, but you could use lard).
Now, if you are a seasoned professional when it comes to pie making, you might well be thinking we have a lot of filling and pastry here. If you are thinking that, you’re thinking right!
- Add your flour and a pinch of salt to a mixing bowl and cube your butter/margarine/fat into it.
- Using your fingertips, start to mix and rub the flour and fat together so the cubes break up.
- Once you have a mixture that resembles large breadcrumbs, stir around with a knife while adding a couple of dessert spoonfuls of tepid water.
- Bind the mixture together to make your pastry dough. If you’re not making your pie straight away, wrap your pastry in cling film and place in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Time To Make Your Meat And Potato Pie
We used a 50cl bowl, roughly 5cm in height and 8cm in diameter. Grease your bowl by rubbing butter or margarine lightly around the base and edges.
- Break your pastry dough into two uneven pieces (roughly 1/3 and 2/3) and place the larger piece on a smooth, flat, lightly floured surface.
- Rub some flour over your rolling pin and start to roll out your pastry, turning it occasionally to get a rough circular shape. Give your pastry or surface a light dusting of flour if it starts to stick.
- Once you’ve rolled it out to around 3mm thick, gently place it over the bowl and press down carefully so the pastry sits in your pie dish. There should be some surplus over the sides.
- Now spoon your cooled meat and potato filling inside, leaving about 1cm space around the top.
- With a sharp knife, trim around the rim of your bowl to get rid of the surplus pastry.
Now Your Meat & Potato Pie Needs A Lid
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Meanwhile:
- Take the smaller piece of your pastry dough and roll it out as you did with the larger piece (Photo 1).
- Once it’s around 2-3mm thick, rub a little water around the rim of your case with your finger tip and place your pastry lid over the top of your filling so that, again, the edges of your pastry fall over the sides. Now, gently press the rim of your lid with your thumbs all the way round (photo 2) so that it sticks to your casing.
- Take a sharp knife and trim away the excess. (Photo 3)
- Make a couple of incisions in the centre of your pastry and use a fork to work around the edges of your pastry (Photo 4). Brush the top with milk.
- Now place your pie dish on an oven tray in the centre of your preheated oven and bake for around 35 minutes or until your pastry is golden.
The aesthetic side of serving a deep dish pie like this, between two people, is not easy but if you’ve greased your dish beforehand, it does make life a lot easier!
Now, we’ll be honest here: We had lots of filling and pastry leftovers from the quantities we used. Fortunately, we’ve also got lots of smallish foil pie trays in our cupboard from a previous cooking experiment of ours. Barry set about with a mini production line and he made 6 more small pies, just with pastry lids and no casing. You can either put these in the fridge or freezer, depending on when you want to eat them.
When you want to eat your smaller pies, just whack the oven on 180 degrees celcius and bake until your pastry is golden. Serve with thick crusty bread and brown sauce (if you want to, that is) and you’ve just got perfect winter comfort food…obviously to be enjoyed as a rare treat, you understand…and, as we’re in Turkey, while you’re enjoying your pies…