Savour the taste of ‘Spring’ with an off-season mince pie

Spring has sprung with flowers in bloom and brighter evenings, but the weather has stalled on making its seasonal switch from wintry to mild in this windswept corner of Europe.

Watching this morning’s news viewers are sharing pictures of snow scenes from North Wales and with it still very cold and wet for this time of year, it would seem the weather has forgotten it is mid-April.

So with this miserable scene set I bring you my latest offering of a ‘spring warmer’ – savoury mince pie with chips and roasted carrots – because in these conditions it is way too early for salads.

 

Pie recipe (serves 6)

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 300 grams plain flour
  • 300 grams butter cubed
  • ½ glass of water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk beaten

Filling

  • 2 pounds of lean steak mince
  • ½ onion finely diced
  • 1 carrot – ½ grated and ½ cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour
  • 1 pint strong beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

 Method

  • Add the olive oil to a large casserole dish and gently fry off the onion.
  • When the onion has softened, add the tomato puree and stir through with the oil.
  • Add the mince to the pan and, season with salt and pepper. Fry slowly until the meat has browned.
  • For the pastry sieve the flour into a bowl, chop the butter into pieces and add to the mixture. Using your hands roughly work the butter through the flour, to give a marbled effect.
  • Make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour in half a cup of water. Work the water through to form a dough, add a little more at a time to bind if required, but do not let the mixture get too wet.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • When the meat has browned add the cubed carrots.
  • To make beef stock I mix three crumbled OXO cubes with a tablespoon of flour and add roughly 1 pint of water. For a more intense flavour use the cooking water from carrots and turnips.
  • Add the beef stock and grated carrot and put the lid on the dish and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Check regularly to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot and add a little bit of water as required.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a floured surface and knead into a rectangle shape.
  • Roll the dough out to three times its length in one direction. Fold the bottom third on top of the middle section and the top third on top of this.
  • Turn the dough clockwise once. Reroll again to three times the length, fold, then wrap tightly in cling film and put back in the fridge for a further 20 minutes.
  • When the mince has absorbed most of the stock – the gravy should be thick – turn off the heat and let it cool.
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • The dough should now be ready to use. Cut in half and roll out one piece until it is about 10mm thick. Make sure it is big enough to cover the bottom and sides of a pastry dish. I use a rectangular dish which yields about six decent sized portions of pie.
  • You can blind bake the bottom of the pie crust for 10 minutes as the professionals usually do, but (famous last words) I have never had any issues with transferring the pie filling directly on to the uncooked pastry.
  • Now using the second piece of dough, roll it out using the same method but slightly thicker than the bottom layer and carefully place on top of the pie.
  • There should now be a small overlap of pastry were the sides meet the top and this can be folded down to create a crust or if you really want a professional finish use a fork to crimp around the edge of the pie.
  • Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and bake in the centre of a hot oven at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes. If the pie crust is browning quickly reduce the oven temperature after 10 minutes.
  • To test the pastry is cooked, pierce the centre with a fork and it should come out dry. When the pastry is golden and flaky the pie is ready.
  • Serve with your favourite side dishes – I choose homemade chips and honey glazed carrots

 

 

 

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