Pies are an excellent way of using up leftover meat, especially stews and casseroles as you already have the gravy and cooked veg if the amount of meat needs bulking out a bit. For this recipe I used the leftovers from my Slow Cooker Beef Stew recipe (hence the odd carrot in the pie!).
I am not an arty person, much to my mother’s continued disappointment and my boyfriend’s continual mocking (both did A-level art, and are naturally artistic people). I can draw cat’s faces, trees, and I’m really good at pumpkin carving but that’s about it. So when it came to decorating my pie I was determined not to be mocked for my efforts. I thought about doing a pastry cow, then realised without a pastry cutter it would probably end up looking more like a duck. I thought about leaves, but was again put off by the thought of doing them free-hand without any kind of guide to imitate. I looked in my baking draw and decided that butterfly or gingerbreadman shapes (the only cutter shapes I have) probably wouldn’t be very appropriate. Then I remembered seeing someone on a cooking show (possibly Masterchef) making little crescents of pastry (fleurons) using the fluted edge of a round pastry cutter, so I decided to give that a go. When arranging the crescents I remembered that when you have no artistic talent for composition that you can’t go far wrong with something that looks symmetrical. It’s also makes it really easy to divided the pie into equal portions.
Pastry Crescents (Fleurons):
- With the outside edge of a small fluted pastry cutter (2”/5cm diameter), cut into your excess pastry, about ½”/1.5cm from the end. Discard the first bit.
- Move the pastry cutter ½”/1.5cm over the first cut and cut your first crescent.
- Continue to do this until you run out of pastry.
I should have taken pictures, but I’ve found a website with fairly good illustrations (only do steps 4-7).
I use the rubbed in method to make pastry. The secret is making sure everything is cold, the ingredients, the bowl, and your hands!
Leftover Beef Stew – enough to fill your pie dish
Plain flour – 10 oz/ 280g
Butter – 2.5 oz/70g
Lard – 2.5 oz/70g
Water – 3-4 tablespoons
Beaten egg to glaze – 1
Equipment: Knife, plate, mixing bowl, rolling pin, fluted pastry cutter, pastry brush, fork
- Cut the butter and lard into cubes on the plate and put them back in the fridge for a while to get nice and cold.
- Sift the flour into the bowl, add the butter and rub them together between your fingertips and thumbs until they resemble fine breadcrumbs (this can take a while, I tend to do it in front of the tv).
- Add the water and mix together with a knife until it starts to come together, bring together into a firm dough ball with your hands, leave to rest in a cold place or fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
- Roll out just over half the pastry, until it’s the thickness you desire and is large enough to line the pastry dish (I didn’t measure mine but I think it was probably about ¼”/6mm thick.
- Line the pie dish with the pastry and trim off excess with a sharp knife.
- Roll out the rest of the pastry to about the same thickness for the lid.
- Add the cold beef, brush the pastry rim with some beaten egg, and cover with more pastry, trimming off any more excess.
- I crimp the edges with a fork.
- Brush with beaten egg. Place on pastry decorations and brush with beaten egg again.
- Prick a couple of holes in the top and put in a preheated oven (200ºC/ Fan 180º/ Gas 6). Cook for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is piping hot.
- I served my pie with leftover mash and gravy.