Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Idle Pie

Idle Pie is the accepted name for Meat & Potato Pie in my husband's family and it was something I had to learn quickly how to cook to Karl's quite exacting specifications; good chunks of meat; tender, but not mushy, potatoes; a good savoury gravy cloaking the filling and a stout pastry case to hold it all together. I don't think that I've achieved the apotheosis of pie, but it's pretty darn good. Make sure the meat is a good stewing cut such as shin or chuck and not too lean. As long as you're in the house to put the pie in the oven and hang around (doing other things of course) while it cooks, this is actually a fairly low-effort affair. Make the pastry and preheat the oven, then get the filling together while the pastry rests in the fridge. A quick assembly and bung it in the oven until dinner time.

Idle Pie

Put a large baking sheet on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 180°c.

For the pastry:

175g lard
350g plain flour

Rub the fat into the flour, season it well and add enough cold water to bind the pastry together. Rest it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, then roll out and line a metal pie dish. Trim the excess, then roll out again to make the pie 'lid'.

For the filling:

500g stewing beef (and see above), cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 fist-sized potato, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing well to distribute the flour and seasoning evenly. Tip all this into your lined pie tin, then pour 175ml of cold water over. Top the pie with its top crust, crimp the edges together and brush the whole lot with beaten egg. Cut a couple of slits in the top of the pie to let out the steam (no need for a funnel here), then transfer to the baking tray in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 150°c and cook for a further 1 hour 15 minutes.
A dish of vegetables is all you need to to with this, then a comfy chair to sink into as you find out just why we call it idle pie.

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