Happy Monday everyone…...
My next book PIE!, part of the Absolute Press '!' series of which my previous titles include STEW! & SOUP!, is on it's way to a bookshop near you in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, to celebrate the fact that its British Pie Week, here's a little recipe from the book to whet your appetite…..
Roast Beef, Sweet Potato & Horseradish Pie
I have a small confession to make, and I know many will disagree with me wholeheartedly, but I have never been too keen on cold roast beef. So, this recipe was simply designed to use up leftovers in a way more pleasing to me than a sandwich, and I have to say it was a triumphant success. For a more intense hot flavour, try to use grated horseradish (available in jars) rather than a creamy horseradish sauce, which can be quite mild-tasting.
Takes 20 minutes to make (plus cooling), 1 hour 25 minutes to cook
For the pie
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped
600g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
300ml beef stock
300g cold roast beef, cut into bite-size pieces
2–3 tbsp grated horseradish (available in jars), or horseradish sauce for a milder flavour
plain flour, for dusting
1 batch of Shortcrust Pastry (see page below for the pastry recipe)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the crumble topping
100g plain flour
50g butter, chilled and cut into little cubes
75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
To make the pie, put the oil into a large frying pan and set over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, along with the rosemary, and fry for 15–20 minutes or until lightly caramelised, stirring from time to time. Stir through the sweet potatoes and then pour in the stock, seasoning well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover with a piece of damp greaseproof paper pressed down over the sweet potatoes, tucking it under snugly at the edges – this creates a steamy lid to help cook the sweet potatoes. Simmer until soft – this will take around 15 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks.
Remove and discard the paper – the sweet potatoes should have absorbed most of the stock; if it is still quite liquid, then simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, stir through the beef and horseradish and set aside to cool completely.
Once the filling is cold, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 4mm (the pastry needs to be slightly thicker here as the filling is robust so it needs a sturdy crust to hold it in) and use it to line a 23cm springform cake tin, bringing it about 4cm up the sides of the tin. Spoon in the filling, levelling it out as you go.
For the crumble topping, lightly rub the flour and butter together in a mixing bowl. When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, mix through the cheese and season well with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the pie filling, but don’t pat or press it down as you want to leave it light and airy.
Bake in the oven for 40–45 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and the crumble topping is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes, then slide a knife around the inside of the tin and release the springform. Carefully transfer the pie to a serving plate or wooden board and serve hot. Green vegetables on the side are a great accompaniment for this pie, and perhaps a little extra horseradish sauce for those who like things fiery.
Shortcrust pastry recipe
Makes about 325g
Takes 10 minutes to make (plus chilling)
180g plain white flour
a pinch of fine salt
90g cold butter, cut into small cubes
3–4 tbsp ice-cold water
Food Processor Method
Put the flour and salt into the food processor and whizz briefly together to mix, then add the butter cubes and pulse briefly a dozen times or so until you have coarse crumbs. If you use the pulse function in very short, sharp bursts (rather than just leave it in the ‘on’ position) to rub the fat and flour together, then I think it works more like super fast fingers and there is less chance of overdoing it. Next, you trickle in the ice-cold water, whilst pulsing all the while, just until the mixture resembles rough lumps and looks a bit like overcooked and dry scrambled eggs. Add only as much water as you need. Don’t keep processing until the mixture comes together in a big ball as that will develop the gluten in the flour too much, so be sure to stop before you get to that stage.
Tip the clumped crumbs onto a sheet of cling film and gently squeeze together into a ball without pressing too hard – little air gaps are a good thing and will add a lightness and crumbliness to the cooked shortcrust. Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Traditional Rubbing-in (by hand) Method
The method is essentially the same, but your fingertips and thumbs work together to literally rub the flour, salt and butter together until you have coarse crumbs. Lifting your hands out of the bowl as you rub adds air. Then once again, add just enough cold water to bring the mixture together into clumps – I find a blunt table knife is best to use here, using it to stir and cut through the crumbed mixture as you mix. Again, tip the clumped crumbs onto a sheet of cling film and squeeze gently into a ball, then wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.