Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Savoury Meat Pies

Shepherd's Pie
The British savoury pie is a time honoured tradition. This is simple food at its most delicious. A steaming hot filling of gravy, vegetables, and meat surrounded by a pastry shell or topped by a thick layer of mashed potatoes. Served up on a plate with a large spoonful of fresh seasonal vegetables, it's meal fit for any table.

These pies can be the perfect way to use up cooked bits of meat and cooked vegetables from a family roast dinner. They're also good when you want to stretch a few ingredients out to feed the family. Favourites at our house include beef cottage pie, beef pie with a puff pastry topping, chicken pie, and shepherd's pie.

Cottage Pie or Shepherd's Pie

I sometimes see some confusion between these two similar pies, but it's realy very simple. A shepherd's pie is made using lamb or mutton, and a cottage pie is made using other meats like beef or chicken.

Otherwise, they're made exactly the same way.

You will need: 

Leftover roasting joint (beef, lamb, or chicken) - pull as much meat as you can off the bones then put the bone into a pot of water to make a stock.
1 large or 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
1 - 2 carrots, diced and cooked until soft in boiling water
1 cup frozen peas or corn
Herbs and spices - pick 2 or 3 that go with whatever meat you're using. For instance, rosemary goes well with lamb or beef, sage and thyme go well with chicken
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Mashed potatoes

Chop meat in food processor
1. Roughly cut up the leftover meat and then put it into a food processor and pulse it a few times until you get the desired consistency. I prefer to have a few bigger pieces but other may way it to be completely chopped into small pieces. If you don't think you'll have enough meat, add in a couple slices of bread and chop those in as well. 
Cook onions and frozen vegetables

2. Heat about a tablespoon olive oil in a pan (I use the wok because it's big enough to do all the mixing as well) and cook the onions until the are soft. Add in the frozen peas or corn and whatever herbs or spices you might want to use. Continue stirring occasionally and cook down until you just start to see some browning on the sides of a few of the veggies. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Now remove it from the heat.

3. Add in the cooked carrots and the chopped meat and mix together.
Pour over  gravy to make a wet mix

4. Use the stock to make a gravy for the pie. Pour enough of the gravy over the meat and vegetables to make a rather wet mixture. Spoon this into your casserole dish. It should be big enough to hold all of the mixture and leave a half inch minimum from the top of the dish.
Spoon mix into casserole dish

5. Mash your cooked potatoes and spoon that over the top of the mixture.

You'll need enough potatoes mashed to cover the entire top of the casserole dish to a layer of at least 1/2 inch. I generally use 5 - 6 large potatoes for a 2-quart dish. You'll want to make a dry mash, so don't add any milk and just a small amount of butter when mashing as the mash will absorb some of the moisture from the meat mixture while cooking.
Spoon mash over the top

6. Spread the mash to cover the entire mix and seal it around the edges. Using a fork run across the top to rough up the surface then dot with a bit of butter and season with salt and pepper. This will give you crunchy bits on top.

Rough up the surface with a fork

7. Place on a baking tray to catch spills and bake in a moderately hot oven (Gas Mark 6/400f/200c) for 35 - 45 minutes, until the topping is browned and the filling is hot and bubbling.

8. Serve it hot. I like to make extra gravy to pour over the top of mine

Cooked shepherd's pie ready to eat