Meat and Potato Pie is a hearty Northern classic. If you’re cooking a meat and potato pie you’re looking to fill your belly, so we’re going all in here with a big thick suet crust.
We need to talk about pie, though. I know that there are some cooks and eaters who are very militant about what constitutes a pie, and for something to qualify it needs to have a pastry bottom. And, you know, I sympathise. 95 per cent of the time I’d rather have a bottom on my pie. Ideally, I’d like to be able to pick up my pie (or slice of pie) and eat it with my hands when it’s cold.
But, I’m also a big believer in the democratisation of language and we’ve all had enough little pot pies in pubs to understand that ‘pie’ might mean ‘stew with a pastry lid’. And we don’t have another widely-used word for ‘stew with a pastry lid’. And a suet pie bottom would be a soggy mess. So here we are.
My great grandma (on my dad’s side) used to make this crust. She was, I’m afraid, from Lancashire. They don’t get the monopoly on suet pie crusts, though. By going with suet, you get a lovely steamed, dumpling-y underside to the lid, with a brilliant golden crust on top.
You don’t need to serve a meat and potato pie with much. You’ve got your meat and potatoes right there in the pie, so some steamed or boiled veg will round out your plate nicely.
- 1.4 kg stewing beef , diced
- 2 onions , medium, chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary approx
- 4 springs fresh thyme approx
- 2 tbsp Henderson's Relish
- Dripping, lard or vegetable oil
- 1 kg potatoes
- 4 tsp English mustard
- 300 g self-raising flour
- 120 g beef suet
- 30 g butter
- 1 egg , beaten
- Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (gas mark 5).
- In a large casserole, sear your meat in batches on the stove over a high heat. Don't over-fill the pan. You're looking to get a bit of delicious caramelisation going.
- Once the meat's done, turn down the heat and fry off your onions. Add the rosemary and thyme after a few minutes. Fill and boil your kettle while this is going on.
- Once the onions are starting to brown pour a little of your boiled water into the pan and give it a bit of a scrape with the spatula to get any crispy deliciousness from the bottom of the pan into the mix. Add your meat back into the pan, pour in enough boiling water to cover the meat, add the Henderson's Relish and season. Put the pot's lid on and whack it in the oven for two hours and 15 minutes.
- Peel your spuds and chop them into pieces roughly the same size as your chunks of meat. Drop them into the pot along with the mustard, topping up with more boiling water if necessary, and put it back in the oven for 15 minutes.
- While your potatoes are cooking, make your pastry. Rub the fats into the flour (the suet won't rub in in the same way butter or lard does, but don't worry). Mix in water a bit at a time until you have a pliable dough. Roll it out to as close to the size and shape as your casserole as you can (you can use the lid as a guide). It should be quite thick. Make a hole in the pastry to allow some of the steam to escape.
- Take your stew from the oven and carefully lift the pastry lid into it. The crust is going to suck up a lot of the moisture in your stew, so it should look wetter than you'd normally be aiming for.
- Put it back in the oven and bake for an hour. Halfway through cooking, turn the temperature down to 160 degrees (gas mark 3) and brush the crust with the egg.
- Remove from the oven. Eat! It's even better re-heated.