Friday, March 06, 2009

Just call me Nigella

Yes,this is all home made, even the pastry!

We've had some news recently that means we need to tighten our financial belts a bit, and as a result I've started being a little more careful about what we spend on food. Asides from looking for the cheaper alternatives in the supermarket, this means I've been looking at whether it's cheaper to make things myself than buy them ready made.

This brought me to pies. I love pies, as those of you who have met me in person will probably have intuited from my 'comfortable' physique. So I decided to have a go at making my own pies, and this was the result. Not the first, but definitely the first worthy of a photograph and blog post.

That up there is a turkey, bacon and mushroom pie, made with reduced for date diced turkey thigh (v cheap anyway), reduced for date bacon lardons and mushrooms, along with some diced onion, a couple of chicken stock cubes and lots of black pepper and garlic. The pastry is shortcrust and is ridiculously easy to make, especially in a food processor, and given that it's just lard, butter, flour and water, is far cheaper than buying ready made stuff, and it's easier to work with as well.

I didn't keep exact costings, but the filling for the pie (and enough for two more the same) cost about £4 - £4.50, and the pastry probably cost about 25p per pie, tops (value range butter, lard and flour). So I could have made three pies like that one up there for the grand total of about £5.25 (so £1.75 a pie). That pie did Wookiee, Ewok and I a dinner with about 1/4 left over, and we all have hearty appetites. A family sized pie at the supermarket will usually cost about £4 and I can tell you for sure that it won't taste anything like as good as that one did.


For people who like recipes, I'll do my best but I don't measure out when I'm creating so all measurements are approximate.

1 rectangular pie dish, mine is 26cm x 18cm x 5cm deep.

For cooking I have a large deep frying pan with a lid, but a large pan should do, you just need something with a lid.

Turkey, Bacon & Mushroom Pie Filling

Turkey thigh, 200g-300g, diced into 1cm-1.5cm cubes (yes really)
Bacon lardons, 50g (or streaky bacon chopped up)
Mushrooms, 50g closed cup, roughly chopped
Large onion, finely chopped.
1 chicken stock cube
ground black pepper and garlic to taste

Gently fry the onion in some oil or butter until soft and translucent, add the garlic while frying. Lob in the turkey and fry some more until all sealed. Remove from the pan. Add a knob of butter (no I don't know, just some) and heat gently until it all melts, don't let it burn. Then add some plain flour to the butter and mix until you get a thick paste, cook this for about a minute, don't let it burn. Make up the stock cube with 1/3 pint of boiling water and add the stock to the paste in the pan and stir until it's all dissolved into the stock. Put the onions and turkey back into the pan and add the mushrooms and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and leave to cook for at least 45 mins, up to 1.5 hrs.

If the gravy isn't thick enough by this point then use some chicken gravy granules or cornflour to thicken it up as much as you like. Or you can boil the living daylights out of it to reduce the gravy that way.

Shortcrust Pastry

225g plain flour
50g butter
50g lard
3-4 tbsp v cold water

Sift the flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt if you want (I don't), chop the butter and lard into small pieces and add to the flour. Mix this into fine breadcrumbs, either by hand or in a processor. Add the water a bit at a time to avoid making the pastry too sticky. Mix until you have a nice smooth lump of pastry. If it does get a bit wet then put extra flour down when you're working it and rolling it out and it will solve the problem.

This makes enough for two lids for my pie dish, so you could halve the recipe.

Fill the dish with the mixture and top it with a nice thick pastry crust. Cut a couple of air holes in the top and decorate as you like. For a nice shiny finish brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Cook for 30-40 mins at Gas Mark 6 (or whatever that is in C or F)

Serves 4-6