Making pies, whether they be savoury or sweet, can be a lovely time spent in the kitchen during the cold months. For many of us who are in the midst of winter and may I say, not liking it. There are a number of ways to pass the cold winter months. If you take pleasure in cooking and taking your time, baking pies may be just the way to keep warm and stay indoors. You may not want to make your own pastry, perfectly fine as there are ready made pastries available to assist. On this occasion, I was pressed for time and the family were looking forward to pies. I did by the pastry however, the rest of the ingredients were fresh. Nevertheless, the pies were a huge success and disappeared in a flash. The meat needs to be braised for a couple of hours in order to soften and absorb all the flavours.
1 kg stewing steak (neatly trimmed and cut into 3-4 cm pieces)
4 sheets of Shortcrust pastry (ready made)
2 brown onions (cut into thin wedges)
150 g button Swiss brown mushrooms (cut into quarters)
10 g dry porcini mushrooms (covered with just enough boiling water)
1/2 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup beef stock
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
2 tbspns plain flour
2 tbspns tomato paste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
olive oil for cooking
salt & freshly ground black pepper
20 g melted butter (for basting pie dishes)
1 egg (beaten for egg wash & seal pastry)
Round pastry cutter 13 cm.
500 g baby peas (frozen)
water to cook the peas
Tomato Relish Recipe
Preparation Time: 20 minutes (Approximately)
Cooking Time: 2 hours (Approximately)
Makes: 8-10 Pies (Approximately)
Preheat oven at 180°C for 15 minutes. Baste pie dishes with melted butter and place aside. Individual pie dishes are 12 cm round x 3.5 cm deep.
Coat the meat with flour and shake off any excess through a sieve. Add oil to a pan over medium heat and brown the meat in batches until golden. Remove the meat and place aside. If needed add a little more oil to the hot pan add onions, saute′ for a few minutes, add the garlic cook for a further 2 minutes, add the Swiss brown mushrooms continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and continue to cook a little longer. Add the meat, combine thoroughly add the wine, porcini mushrooms with the liquid as well as the beef stock. Allow to come to the boil and reduce the heat. Simmer gently for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Remove the lid 30 minutes before the meat is cooked to reduce the sauce to a thick consistency and season with salt and pepper.
Whilst the meat is cooking, cut the pastry. Cut the tops in the centre in order for the steam to escape whilst in the oven. To assemble place 1 round piece in the bottom of the pie dish, add the meat mixture, baste the top piece around the edges, face down to seal the pie, baste the top with the egg wash and repeat until all the pies are ready for the oven. Cook until golden brown all over. Remove from the oven, place aside for 5 minutes to cool down a little.
To a pot add just enough water to cover the peas and place on the stove over medium heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from the heat, drain, keeping the liquid. Puree in a kitchen whizz or blender until smooth. If the mixture is thick, gradually add the pea liquid until the consistency is smooth but not too runny. Season with salt and place aside.
If time permits I usually make my own shortcrust pastry however, on this occasion I bought ready made. This time saver allows you to prepare a few accompaniments such as, the relish and pea puree.
The meat mixture can be made ahead of time and all that will be left is to assemble and bake the pies.
In the past I have used muffin tins to make pies and this worked very well. Ensure that you butter the tin well before placing the pastry in and once the pies a cooked, allow to cool slightly and gently remove the pies.