I’ve never been a fan of the shop bought pie. Stodgy and usually lacking in the headline ingredient, so I make my own. It may seem complicated and a pile of hassle but there’s a very basic process to any pie.
Firstly, don’t line the pie dish with pastry. Unless you like your local cardiac ward, then knock yourself out. A good pie will mean the bottom layer of pastry will end up soggy anyway (and you won’t have to worry about blind baking it either). The top has to be puff, which is a real faff to make from scratch, so a good ready made is fine, made easier if ready rolled.
All that frees you up to do the filling. A basic pie filling is elementary. It’s whatever ingredients you want, bound in a velouté of the stock of your headline ingredient. So, chicken and mushroom – chicken velouté. Beef and Ale – a beef and ale velouté.
Almost all start life in a casserole dish with a base of a couple of finely chopped onions and some crushed garlic. Then add your meat until cooked through, and any other vegetables you desire at an opportune moment.
For the pie “sauce”, make a roux (melt 25g butter with a pinch of salt in a saucepan and stir in 25g plain flour until you have a “dough”). Then add stock of your choice until you have a thick but pourable sauce. Stir that through the pie mix until you have the consistency you want. That process for a “pie sauce” is a velouté and is basically just a béchamel (white sauce of lasagne fame) with stock instead of milk.
If you don’t have pie dishes, don’t sorry. Cut your puff pastry into slabs (pound coin thickness, maybe a little more), glaze with egg or milk and bake on a lined sheet and serve atop a ladleful of mix. Simple. If you do have a pie dish, fill the pie dish, cover with pastry and make a hole in it for steam. Then bake for 20 minutes or so.
Oh. And stock. Simply ask your butcher for bones of the animal you are making a pie of, roast them for 30 mins (or use your Sunday carcass) uncovered on a high heat and boil them covered in water and the right oxo cube for half an hour with a pinch of mixed herbs. The stock will freeze well too.
And there we go, far from being a hassle, a homemade pie is very simple and a home economists dream – you can use up anything and everything!
Image Courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.Net