“You cannot give up on the gravy. No gravy, no pie.” – Hot Pie

Wise words if ever there were some.

I don’t know whether mince pies are a thing in other places. You see, it amazed me that a Colombian friend had never had an advent calendar before this year. Christmas is so utterly swathed in tradition for me that I don’t stop to remember that my traditions aren’t everybody’s traditions. Anyway, for those of you unlucky enough never to have had a mince pie, they are delicious little mouthfuls of dried fruit and spices, wrapped up in a pastry case. Traditionally they have beef suet in too. This may sound weird, but it gets odder: they used to be made with actual minced meat. It’s like having meat in your Christmas pudding (do they have those around the World..?). But if you consider that we often mix sweet and savoury, it seems less strange. Actually fruit and meat make a delicious pairing. So for this recipe, I spiced it up (literally) with the best gravy you will ever taste. You can just use ordinary gravy but personally I think that would be a big mistake…

If you just want to make the gravy (also good) you might want to strain the bits from it but for a pie, they’re nicer left in.

DSC_0272

For the hotwater crust pastry

150g butter, firm but not chilled
250g plain flour
A large pinch of salt
60ml water recently boiled
1 large egg to glaze

For the filling
2 large cups leftover boiled vegetables (an even mix of cabbage/Brussels sprouts and parsnips works perfectly!)
2 large cups leftover turkey/chicken/goose (whatever you have)
1 1/2 cups mince pie gravy

For the gravy
Either, make from scratch, or add 3 tbsp mince meat to your gravy

The roasting tin after you cooked your poultry with the fat and juices at the bottom
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp plain flour
1 small glass red wine
350ml stock
3 tbsp mincemeat
salt and pepper

Start by making the gravy. Slice the onion into quarters and separate the layers. Place this in the roasting tin along with the garlic and stick it back in the oven for about 20 minutes at 180°C/356°F.

Remove the tin from the oven and find a good, non-scratch spatula. Pour about 2/3rds of the fat from the tin and add the flour. Start to cook out. Add the red wine, scraping the caramelised parts from the bottom of the pan the whole time. Add the bay leaf and begin to add the stock, a little at a time, allowing to reduce over the heat. Continue to stir and scrape as you add the stock. Keep stirring over the heat until you have a thick, glossy, rich gravy. Remove the bay leaf and add the mincemeat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the pastry, cube the butter and add to a large bowl with the flour. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs. You can also do this in a food processor. Add the hot water (yes, it is enough!). Sir in with a spoon, then bring together into a ball with your hands and leave to cool at room temperature.

Once the pastry is a little cooler than body temperature, cut off one third and set aside. Roll out the remainder on a lightly floured surface and line an 8.5 inch pie dish. This pastry is so forgiving, so if it breaks, just patch it ups with the scraps.

Tip about one third of the vegetables into the base of the pie dish, then top with a mixture of the meat and vegetables. When the dish is about three quarters full, pour the gravy over the filling. Finally top off with the remainder of the vegetables. Roll out the remaining pastry and use it to make a lid for the pie.

Heat the oven to 200°C/392°F. Beat the egg and brush the top of the pie. Bake for an hour. Cover the top with foil for the last 15 minutes to stop it browning too quickly.

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