It seems that every week is designated National This-That-And-Of-Other Week, mostly I ignore them, but I can get behind British Pie week, which this year is held from the 3rd – 9th March. My inner geek longs for it to run to the 14th March – 3/14 – or 3.14 being the mathematical pi, sadly it was not to be – and Pi Day works far better with the American method of formatting dates where the month precedes the date.
I’ve long been a fan of Le Creuset; their cast iron casseroles are a kitchen classic – I had one at university and it is still going strong, most often used now for cooking rice on the hob. Such was my love for a rich, delicious slow cooked casserole that one of my housemates, in an alcohol fuelled fit of zeal wrote “Helly’s Casserole Cupboard” on the oven door in marker pen. It caused much mirth, until the time came to move out at the end of the year, and we set about cleaning the house and found the writing almost indelible.
As well as the classic casserole Le Creuset also have a wide range of stoneware and pie birds. The new pie dishes are both deep – more filling, and have a narrower topping area – to both retain moisture and ensure a crisp topping. The bird both holds the pastry up and allows steam to escape.
Due to not being in London, and the vagaries of Parcel Force in the Cotswolds my new Le Creuset pie dish and bird did not appear in time for my pie making, but, fortunately such is the appeal of Le Creuset, Ed’s sister had one of their pie dishes in her kitchen cupboard as well as a casserole in the classic volcanic orange colour.
I was taught to make puff pastry at school in Domestic Science – as it was called in the days prior to Home Economics – and have only made it once since. Life is too short and I usually buy both ready made and ready rolled. My preferred brand is Jus Rol – they do an all butter in the gold packaging, and a diary free (and vegan) in the green packet. It is an indispensable product for topping pies, or making tarts with.
- Beef dripping or goose fat
- 2 medium onions – roughly diced
- 2 carrots – roughly diced
- 1 clove garlic
- 800 g Ox cheeks – cut into 3 – 4 cm chunks or stewing steak
- 1 glass red wine
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 mug beef stock
- Salt & pepper
- 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
Add the fat or dripping to a casserole dish and fry the the onion, carrots and garlic in the dripping or goose fat; when soft transfer to a plate.
Cube the ox cheeks into bite-sized pieces and seal a few at a time, transferring to the plate once browned.
Whilst the last batch of beef is frying add a little extra fat to the frying pan – we used goose fat – and add a tablespoon of plain flour and cook for a few minutes before adding back the onion, carrot, garlic and the rest of the meat.
Add the wine, top up with water until the top of the meat is just covered and add beef stock cube.
Season with salt and pepper, cook in a medium oven (170C / GM3) with the lid on for 2 hours.
If the filling needs thickening, put a teaspoon or two of cornflour into a small bowl, then add a few spoons of the gravy, mix well and return to the casserole. (Never thicken by adding cornflour directly to the casserole as you will never get the lumps out.) Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer the filling to a pie dish, place a pie bird in the middle, wet the edges of the dish, then cover with a sheet of puff pastry with a hole cut for the bird. If you do not have a pie bird use an upturned egg cup, and make a few small holes in the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
Decorate the top of the pie with the leftover scrapes of pastry, and brush with a beaten egg. Return to the oven and bake at 220C / GM7 for about 40 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.
Happy National Pie Week! What pie will you be serving?
Fuss Free Flavours received products and a supermarket voucher from Le Creuset to cover the cost of ingredients, and well as product vouchers from Jus Rol. All opinions are our own and we were not required to write a positive review.