British Pie Week is here! Pies were, of course, pioneered nearly 12,000 years ago, but that hasn’t stopped Britain from embracing the humble pie as though it were one of our own. Whether your pie is made with pastry or potato, savoury or sweet fillings or even a boring casserole with a pastry lid which has no business calling itself a pie, they all have one thing in common – they are DELICIOUS.
Following on from the controversy of my last meat, cheese and fruit pie I decided to double down and do another. There is method to my madness. The sour and sweet notes of the fruit pair so well with the salty, umami nature of the meat and cheese, which themselves contrast with dark richness and smooth creaminess. It’s just a flavour sensation, and what is a pie if not a gorgeous means of full flavour delivery to the mouth?
I used lamb shoulder as its well-worked nature makes it perfect for stewing as it becomes melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. Of course, feel free to use other cuts at your own peril.
- Shortcrust Pastry for the base (pre-rolled)
- Puff Pastry for the lid (pre-rolled)
- Diced Lamb Shoulder
- Glass of Red Wine
- Red Onion (1-2) Diced
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- Soft Goats Cheese
- Dried Apricots
- Seasoning (salt and pepper)
- Vegetable Stock
- Mint Sauce
- Beaten Egg
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
- Heat a little butter in a large, heavy pan on high heat and when foaming add your lamb and brown for a few minutes. You’re aiming to get a nice bit of colour and richness on the outside, as well as stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the lamb to a bowl and add the onion and a spoonful or so of dried rosemary. Sprinkle with a little salt and reduce the temperature to low. Gently cook, stirring a few times, with the lid on. This will make the onions sweet and soft, and the moisture that leaves them will soon deglaze the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the onions are soft, add the garlic and fry for a minute or so.
- Add another spoonful or so of butter and when melted, a roughly equal amount of flour to make a roux. This is the thickening agent that will bulk out the sauce later. Cook it gently for a few minutes until it smells like an oniony pie crust. Add the red wine and roughly twice that amount of vegetable stock. As it comes up to temperature it should nicely thicken.
- Add no more than half a teaspoon of mint sauce – we want the tiniest hint of mint, it’s easy to get carried away when dealing with lamb – and then put the whole mixture into the oven, uncovered, for anywhere between 1-2 hours. The longer the better. Check at half hour intervals to give it a stir, and if needed, add a splash of water from time to time. Ultimately you want a nice thick sauce with tender meat.
- Meanwhile, press your rolled shortcrust pastry into a buttered pie dish and cut off any excess from around the edge. Be sure to prick the bottom with a fork to allow air to escape. Line with baking parchment or foil and then something to blind bake for 10 minutes – this is a short, initial bake to help give it a headstart and avoid ending up with a crisp top but soggy, raw base. You can use ceramic beads, dry rice or even an equally sized pie dish. Really you’re just weighing it down and ensuring it doesn’t puff up huge.
- Add your lamb mixture to your blind-baked shortcrust base, mix in the chopped dried apricots and sprinkle on chunks of soft goats cheese. Top with an equally sized puff lid and brush with a beaten egg for a shimmering finish. Add a steam hole, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the top, and decorate as desired.
- Bake for 20 minutes or so – until the top is ready – and then serve,