31 October 2011

Pie Principles

Crispy pastry, succulent filling, and lots of compliments from my dining companions. What more can you ask for? Especially, as this was my first attempt at using my latest kitchen gadget, the pie funnel. Now, don't despair if you don't have one, you can achieve the same result with a few well-placed cuts in the pastry top, to let steam escape.

My starting point was yesterday's roast beef, or rather, what was left of it. There were also a few carrots and potatoes, all of which I cut into small cubes. You could, of course, start from scratch, simply adjusting cooking times to make sure all your ingredients are properly cooked. I won't give quantities other than for the pastry (to fit a 26 cm pie dish), as the idea is to use up whatever you have rolling around your kitchen.

Fry off an onion and red pepper, both cubed, added the carrots and beef with a tiny amount of flour. Deglaze with just enough red wine and stock to cover the ingredients, add a bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmered gently for a longish period, until the meat is beautifully tender. 

In the meantime, make some short pastry out of 340 g flour, 170 g butter, a little salt and a very small amount of water. Leave to rest in the fridge; preheat oven to 180 C. 

Drain beef and vegetables, preserve the stock. Make a roux with the stock until you have a thick sauce, season with dijon mustard, salt and pepper, fennel seeds and smoked paprika powder. Add beef, vegetables and the cubed, cooked potatoes. 

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and use to line the buttered pie dish. Place the pie funnel in the middle, adding the filling around it.

Roll out the remaining pastry, cutting a small cross in the middle. Moisten the sides of the pie with a little cold water, place the lid on top - the bird should appear through the cross opening. Press the lid firmly around the bird and, using a fork, along the sides.

O dear, the little birdie is looking very unhappy...

Brush with beaten egg. Bake for 1 h. 

Ignore any feelings of pity for your kitchen gadgets!

Cover with baking paper, bake for a further 15 mins.

No, you're not coming out quite yet!

Leave to cool for ten minutes, then serve (it'll still be very hot!).   

Well done, I'll get you out now! 

I'm very impressed with how well the pie funnel worked. The sauce has all but disappeared, yet the filling is deliciously moist and juicy. The pastry is perfectly crispy all over, no soggy bottoms... and the taste is beyond my wildest hopes - isn't it amazing what you can do with left-overs?!

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