We had roast chicken a few days ago, and the idea was that my husband would make chicken pot pie with the left overs, since I was going to be working late. Anyway, he decided there wasn't enough left over chicken, and that left us with the pastry I'd made needing to be used. I decided to go for an old favourite, Meat and Potato Pie. Tender chinks of beef, onions, and diced potato in gravy, topped with rich, melt in the mouth pastry. I remember my nannie making this when I was younger. The inspiration is from that childhood memory, and the pastry recipe is hers, but the stew is mine. So, sharpen your knife, get out a big pot, and dust your rolling pin with flour. This pie is fairly economical, but to me, there's always something a bit special about a pie. If you're on a budget, this is a great alternative to a Sunday roast.
These amounts will comfortable serve a family of four.
This is for a top-crust only, if you want pastry on the bottom too, double it up.
3oz cold butter, diced
2oz cold shortening/ lard, diced
8oz all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp dried thyme (optional)
1 egg( beaten)
you might also need a little water if the pasty is not coming together.
Place the flour, thyme (if using) and salt in a mixing bowl, add the fats, and rub them into the flour until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg, and use your hands to bring the mix together until it forms a clump of dough. If the mix is too dry, and not adhering, add a little water (around a tablespoon at a time) until you can get it to form a ball.
Don't be scared of pastry, the trick is to be light handed but confident. This pastry will become tough if over-handled. Be as firm as you need to be to get the dough into a ball, just don't bash it around.
Pastry made,wrap it in cling film, or put it in a plastic bag, and pop it in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
1 lb of diced stewing meat
1 large onion, chopped
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into fairly large chunks.
about 10 mushrooms, sliced.
3 tbsps all purpose flour
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced.
1 and 3/4 pints beef stock
2 tsps dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
Corn starch to thicken gravy (you may not need this)
Keep your prepared potatoes to one side, in a bowl or pot, covered with cold water.
Heat the oil in a large pot, add the beef, and brown. Add the onions, and cook until the onions are becoming translucent, then add the mushrooms, and stir in the flour. Add about 1/4 pint on the beef stock, and stir to make sure you have no clumps of flour, and the base of the gravy is smooth. Stir in the rest of the stock, add the carrots and thyme. Cook on a gentle heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
Remove pastry from fridge, and preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 Fahrenheit)
Drain potatoes, add to stew, and cook for around 15 minutes, or until tender. Season to taste. If the gravy is too thin, slake around 4 tsps of corn starch in a little water to make a smooth paste, and stir into the gravy. Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring all the time.
Pour the prepared stew into a casserole or deep pie dish. Dust a work surface with flour, and roll out the pastry large enough to cover your dish. Top the stew with pastry, and cut a hole in the top to let the steam escape.
Place in the centre of the oven, and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Smile at your achievement.
Serve on it's own, or with a green vegetable of your choice.