A good old traditional meat and potato pie! So hard to beat!
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, when the weather’s cold in Fethiye, our bodies crave a bit of that type of food.
That type of food where you forget about calories and fat content and carbs. And you just sit in front of the fire and take pleasure in fulfilling that craving.
That’s when we make ourselves a big, fat meat and potato pie.
Wigan And The Love Of Pies
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. Lots of them! We even host the World Pie Eating Championships!
And the pie that must be eaten?
A meat and potato pie, of course. They’re the best!
Whether or not this event still takes place, we have no clue. But it gives you the idea.
Pies are just part of the Wigan psyche. As David Barnett writes in this Guardian article:
When you’re from Wigan, you never really stop eating pies…Eating pies is part of our heritage, our DNA, our birthright.”
He’s only half joking.
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.’
There was at least one pie shop on every high street and in every neighbourhood of the borough.
Not too sure what the health standards of your average Wiganer is as a result of this ‘pie upbringing,’ but there you go.
When you see below what the favoured accompaniments to meat & potato pies are in Wigan, you’re certainly not going to find the complete dish in the healthy recipes section of any cook book.
Meat & Potato Pie Is The Favourite
Arguably, meat and potato pie is the favourite. Meat pie or steak pie are close seconds.
Everyone had their own favoured pie shop, depending on taste. Some Wiganers like a pie with lots of gravy inside.
Some like a chunky filling with little gravy. Some prefer a velvety pastry. Others like a golden pie crust.
Nothing too adventurous with the extras…
Salt and pepper. Perhaps a splash of Worcestershire Sauce in the beef mixture. That’s about as bold as it gets.
The constants are:
- The meat must be minced beef (ground beef)
- And, obviously, potatoes
When Is A Pie Not A Pie?
And it must be a pie!
It’s not pie if you’re just going to make a casserole or a stew and stick a pastry lid on top.
A proper traditional meat and potato pie needs a base. And walls as well as the pastry top.
The pie filling must be completely encased! And we’re talking shortcrust pastry.
Not suet pastry or puff pastry. Homemade shortcrust pastry!
These days, lots of the traditional Wigan pie shops have disappeared, closed down or taken over by national bakery chains.
But at least we can still do our own homemade meat and potato pie recipe.
Our Homemade Meat & Potato Pie Recipe
A lot of traditional British meat and potato pie recipes will have carrots in the pie filling.
We do love carrots. But, for this recipe, we’re leaning back towards our Wigan roots.
And in a Wigan meat and potato pie recipe, there was never a carrot to be seen.
Onions, yes (sometimes).
Carrots, no. Just no!
We use onions. And we begin proceedings by finely chopping them and starting to cook them in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat.
Once they start to sweat, we add our minced/ground beef and start to break it up further with a wooden spoon.
As it begins to brown, we reduce to a medium heat and let all the juices release from the meat.
Once all the meat is broken down, we add our simple seasoning and flavourings. Just a pinch of salt and pepper.
And a good splash of Worcestershire Sauce. And then enough water to cover the beef mixture.
A good stir. Then leave to simmer for about 20 minutes.
Some people will add a stock cube with their water. But, for us, that’s not the flavour we’re looking for with our meat and potato pie recipe.
Even the Worcestershire Sauce might be seen as controversial (and perhaps exotic) for some.
As for the potatoes, you can use different types of potato. For our pie, we prefer a floury variety. No need to peel them.
We’re just giving them a good wash and then cutting them into rough, bite-sized chunks.
We boil those separately, along with a good pinch of salt, until al dente. Then add them to our meat.
The Pastry Casing
This is a shortcrust meat and potato pie recipe.
So, once we’ve made our meat and potato mix, we make our pastry whilst our mixture cools to around room temperature.
Shortcrust pastry is simple to make.
Half the amount of fat to flour – it’s just the quantities you need now. For the size of our deep pie dish, we use 500g plain flour and 250g fat.
Our fat content is simply local village butter. But if you like, you can do a half-half mix butter/margarine with lard.
Shortcrust Pastry Tips
- The key to a good shortcrust pastry is to work fast and keep everything cold.
- By that, we mean cold butter and cold hands.
- If you’re making your pastry by hand rather than using an electric mixer, run your hands under cold water before you start to prevent the fat from starting to melt.
- Add your flour and a pinch of salt to a large bowl. Then cube your cold butter/margarine/fat into it. Make sure your butter is straight from the fridge.
- Using your fingertips, start to mix and rub the flour and fat together so the cubes break up. Your fingertips are the coldest part of your hands.
- 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. And to keep your pastry ‘short’ don’t knead it or overwork it. Get it together in a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Creating Your Meat And Potato Pie
If we were making a large meat pie, we would use an ovenproof flat pie plate. But our meat and potato pie recipe calls for a deep dish. It’s a chunky pie!
Our oven dish is 27 cm diameter and 5 cm deep. Grease your bowl by rubbing butter or margarine lightly around the base and edges.
- We break our pastry dough into two uneven pieces (roughly 3/5 and 2/5) and place the larger piece on a smooth, flat, lightly floured surface. Again, the colder your work surface, the better.
- Taking the larger of the two pieces of pastry dough, we roll this out on our floured surface until it’s around 3 millimetres thick and carefully lay it into the pie dish, allowing the surplus to fall over the edges.
- Our pie filling is spooned inside, leaving a few millimetres’ gap at the top.
- Then we roll out the remaining pastry to the same thickness and lay this over the top of the pie filling and gently pres around the rim of the dish to stick the two pieces of pastry together.
- Using a sharp knife, we then trim the excess pastry dough away. Then use a fork to go around the rim and press to create the edge of the crust.
- Use your sharp knife to create one or two slits in the top of the pastry. And then, if you want a golden topping, brush over the pastry dough with an egg wash.
When you’re ready to cook your meat and potato pie, just preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, place your pie dish on a baking tray and put in the centre of the oven.
Bake until your pastry is golden brown on top.
Wonderfully satisfying when the weather in Fethiye is anything but summery!
Serving Your Meat & Potato Pie
If you are on a low carb or low fat eating plan, you probably looked away some time ago. If you’re still reading, you might want to look away now…
Purely for ease, we make one big meat and potato pie and reheat it the following day at home. Just the pie, a generous dollop of brown sauce and buttered crusty bread.
It’s a must to have a pie butty!
Pie, Chips, Peas ‘n’ Gravy
It’s a thing! Not that we would eat this combination, now.
A trip to the local ‘chippy’ (fish and chip shop) in Wigan and many is the time people will order pie, chips (homemade chips – not fries), mushy peas (let’s not even go there with the ‘pea wet’) and thick brown gravy poured over the lot.
All served in a polystyrene tray.
If this meal was taken home, of course it was served up with bread and butter.
Eaten on the street, we somehow managed with a plastic fork.
Pie Barm – The Wigan Kebab
And then there’s the famous pie barm; affectionately known as the Wigan kebab. Any tenuous link to Turkey suits us!
The pie barm is supremely popular.
If the döner kebab is meat served up in bread, the pie barm is a whole pie served up in a barmcake.
A barmcake is a circular soft bread bun – not dissimilar to a Turkish gobit. Some pie shops will make their pies so that their circumference matches that of the barm.
The barm is sliced through the middle, generously buttered and the pie placed in between. The pie barm!
Good luck eating that if your pie filling is on the looser side of solid!
We have enjoyed many meat & potato pie barms over the years but I will hold my hands up and say I have never put the whole pie in there!
My common sense tells me a chunk of the pie will suffice.
Homemade Meat & Potato Pie FAQs
A few questions answered, just in case you were wondering.
Yes! Otherwise it’s not a pie. Our meat & potato pie recipe sees the filling completely encased in pastry.
Lots of recipes will suggest braising steak or stewing beef. However, as we’ve grown up in Wigan, the home of pie eating, we use what we’ve grown up with: Minced beef (ground beef).
For us, a pie with steak is a steak pie. Not a meat pie. So our meat and potato pie recipe always uses medium fat minced beef.
If you want a crusty bottom for your homemade meat and potato pie, you can blind bake the pastry bottom before adding the filling.
You can also keep your filling dry by not creating to too much gravy juice.
The pies we grew up with were not blind baked so we add our filling straight to the raw pastry dough. This gives you the contrast of soft pastry bottom and crusty lid.
You can keep your meat and potato pie covered in the fridge for 3 days. When you reheat it, reheat it straight from the fridge in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius
Our Homemade Meat & Potato Pie Recipe
Let’s get to it and make our traditional British meat and potato pie – with more than a hint of Wigan.
Meat & Potato Pie Recipe
- 1 Ovenproof dish Ours is 27 centimetres in diameter and a depth of 5 centimetres
- 2 Large saucepans
- 1 Mixing bowl
- 1 Sharp knife
- 1 Rolling Pin
- 1 Pastry brush
For The Meat & Potato Pie Filling
- 500 grams minced beef medium fat
- 2 medium potatoes washed & cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 medium onions peeled & finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil for frying
- salt & pepper to season
- 1 cup water enough to cover the meat mixture
For The Shortcrust Pastry
- 500 grams plain white flour plus extra for dusting
- 250 grams butter or 50/50 lard/butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoon cold water
- 1 egg beaten for an egg wash
For The Pie Filling
- First of all, heat your sunflower oil in a large saucepan over a medium high heat and add your onion.
- Stir around until the onion starts to sweat and then add your minced beef.
- Reduce the heat the medium and keep chopping your meat with a wooden spoon so that it doesn't clump together.
- Meanwhile, add your potatoes to your second saucepan and place over a high heat with a good pinch of salt and boiling water.
- Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
- When the meat is browning and releasing its juices, add your Worcestershire Sauce and seasoning, along with a cup of water – enough to cover the meat.
- Stir around and leave to simmer for around 20 minutes.
- Add more water if you think your meat mixture is too dry. It depends how loose you want your pie filling to be.
- Meanwhile, when your potatoes are al dente, remove from the heat and drain.
- When your meat is cooked, remove from the heat and add your potatoes. Gently mix together and allow to cool to room temperature.
For The Pastry
- Whilst your pie filling is cooking and cooling, you can prepare your pastry.
- Add your flour and salt to a large mixing bowl. Then remove your butter from the fridge and cut it into small cubes.
- Run your hands under cold water so that your fingertips are nice and cold before you start working with the pastry mixture.
- With dry hands, start to rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips.
- Work fast until your mixture resembles breadcrumbs and you can't see any large lumps of butter leftover. You can give the pan a gentle shake to bring any hidden larger pieces to the top.
- Add a tablespoonful of water and use a cutlery knife to start to bring the mixture together.
- As the dough comes together, bring it together into a ball with your hands. Press it together and then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
To Make Your Meat & Potato Pie
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and lightly grease your pie dish with butter.
- Meanwhile, take your pastry and divide it into two unequal parts – roughly 2/5 to 3/5.
- Take the larger piece of pastry and roll it out to around 3 millimetres' thickness on a lightly floured work surface, making sure it is big enough to fit into your pie dish with an overhang.
- To get your pastry into the pie dish, lightly roll it around your rolling pin and then unroll it across the top of the bowl, allowing it to sink into the dish.
- Lightly press your pastry into place. Don't worry about any tears. You can easily just push those back together. Leave the overhanging pastry where it is for now.
- Now spoon your pie filling into the dish, into the pastry case, leaving an approximate 1 centimetre gap at the top.
- Now roll out your remaining pastry to around 3 millimetres' thickness and until it is big enough to cover the top of the pie filling with an overhang.
- Go round the rim of your pie dish with your fingers and gently press the pastry lid and casing together, along the rim.
- Now take a fork and press around the rim to create your pie crust.
- Take your sharp knife and carefully go around the edge of your pie, trimming away the excess pastry.
- If you want to, you can use the excess pastry to create decoration for the top of your pie lid.
- Make two or three slits in the top of your pie to allow steam to escape and place your pie dish on a baking tray.
- Now brush your beaten egg over the top of your pastry lid.
- Cook in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, or until your pie is golden brown on top.
- Serve immediately.
- As you can see by the number of calories per serving, our recipe for homemade meat and potato pie is comfort food and meant as a treat.
- In our house, we always make meat and potato pie on New Year’s Eve – a northern English tradition – but we also make it on other winter’s days, too.
- Our ratio of meat to potato is optional. If you would prefer more of one of the other, feel free to change the ratios to your preference.
- Likewise with the amount of water in your meat mixture. It depends how loose you want your pie filling to be.
- When you are laying your pastry into your pie dish, don’t worry about any rips. Push them back together.
- Make sure you have the good overhang because the pastry will weigh down once the filling is put inside. You still want some pastry overhanging after this so that you can stick the lid to it.
- We like to serve our meat and potato pie as it is, with some brown sauce and crusty bread (or a barm). Serve your homemade meat and potato pie as it is or have some peas and carrots on the side with gravy.
You can find this recipe and others from the UK and around the world in our international recipes section of the blog.
Most of the time, we do cook Turkish. So, if you’re looking for ideas, head over to our Turkish recipes listings.