I decided I wanted to make something savoury, but with baking involved. So for this I chose to make some individual beef and mushroom pies. For this sort of pie you can use whatever ingredients you wish but I opted for beef, mushrooms, carrots and onions, with a nice rich gravy.
Some people like a pot pie type, where there is only a lid of pastry on the top of the meat, but I actually prefer a full pie, where the filling is entirely enclosed. I also have a preference for shortcrust pastry, rather than puff, for savoury dishes, so I opted to make that.
When making shortcrust pastry you also have a choice of which shortening agent to use. Some use butter, others butter and lard and I decided on just lard. Lard gives a nice crisp to the pastry and the base tends to cook better, when there is a wet filling.
The first thing to do is to make the filling and I did that, removing the contents from the gravy. Although the gravy was quite thick I wanted to make it thicker still, so that I could place the meat into the pie and put the gravy on top. During cooking the gravy will thin and slide through the filling coating the meat nicely. That also means that the pastry base has time to bake and not become soggy.
Then it was time to make the shortcrust pastry, keeping it quite dry and crumbly, even during rolling out. The benefit of this type of pastry is that the rolling doesn’t have to be perfect as it is easy to patch any defects with extra pastry.
I did one test pie first just to see how it would turn out. That would allow me to adjust my method a little if necessary. In the event the test pie was just great, with the pastry cooked perfectly and the filling was nice and moist.
So then it was straight on to making the remaining pies. I am am very pleased with the results of this little experiment. So I have a nice batch of pies, and can freeze some for later use. They will just need to be reheated in the oven, on a low heat, to make them perfect for the table.
This recipe made 8 individual pies. I used tin foil pie cases for 5, including my test pie, and 3 oval pie dishes for the other 3. Both types had the same volume even though the tin foil ones were taller, they were not so long and wide. The pies weighed 250g after baking, so almost 9 ounces.
I judge this to be a very successful experiment, resulting in a most tasty pie.
- 1kg diced beef(I used skirt which is just great for pies)
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and then sliced.
- 300g of button mushrooms, sliced or quartered.
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500g beef stock
- 2tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 3tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped or grated
- 3tbsp vegetable oil
- 3tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp cornflour, for extra thickening
- 650g plain flour
- 250g lard
- 100ml ice cold water
- 1 large egg, for egg wash
- For the filling dice the meat, onions and chop the carrots and mushrooms.
- Place the oil in a frying pan saute the onions and carrots, on a medium heat, for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Remove the carrots and onions from the pan and fry off the meat, to brown it, in the same pan. Do the meat in batches so that it fries rather than steams.
- Place the onions, carrots, garlic and mushrooms into a large pot, that has a lid.
- Add the ketchup, worcestershire sauce and beef stock to the pot as well.
- Toss the browned beef in the plain flour until coated and add to the pot as well.
- Add salt and pepper to your taste.
- Bring the pot to the boil and then cover with the lid and allow to cook gently for about an hour and a half, until the diced meat is cooked.
- Strain the filling into a bowl, leaving the stock in the pot.
- Bring back to the boil.
- Add a little water to the cornflour and stir into a paste with no lumps.
- Gradually add the cornflour to the stock, stirring all the time, until the stock thickens to a lovely thick consistency.
- Pour into a jug and allow to set.
- When the meat filling has cooled completely you can place it, covered, into the fridge until you need it for the pies.
- In a large bowl place the plain flour and the lard, chopped into squares.
- Cut the lard into the flour until it has combined into fine breadcrumbs(you can do this in a food processor)
- Add the iced water, a tablespoon at a time, and cut into the flour mixture until it starts to come together. Mine took about 90ml water.
- Using your hands pull the flour mixture into one large ball of dough. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F. Place a baking tray into the oven to heat up at the same time.
- Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and cut into pieces that can be individually rolled to make the linings of the pie cases. Line the cases, do not grease them.
- Use a pastry brush to egg wash the pastry base.
- Fill the pie cases with enough filling to come just below the top level of the case.
- Spoon some of the set stock over the top of the filling, spreading it evenly over the filling.
- Roll out more pastry to cover the tops of the pies.
- Egg wash the edge of the pastry in the pie cases and place the pastry lid on top. Press down all around the edges to seal.
- Egg was the top of the pies, cutting an ‘X’ into the centre to allow out any steam.
- Place the pies onto the heated baking tray and place back in the oven to bake for 40 minutes, until the top has gone a nice golden brown.
- Remove the pies from the oven place, still in the pie cases, on a wire rack to cool a little before serving.
- You can allow to cool completely and then freeze them(or chill them) for later use. If you do you then need to reheat them fully in the oven.