02 November 2011


We have acquired several British cookbooks as of late. Now we love a good pie, but frankly we love a great savory pie. Apples and pears and berries, oh my. But for a really spectacular pie try chicken and rabbit and leeks...among other things. Enter the Pieminister. The most funnest pie shoppe in Britain and now the best little pie book one can lay one's hands on. Loads of savory treats and sweet touch or two.

Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon were just two blokes who loved their pie. Then one day it dawned on them that they could be piemakers. They tried out a bunch of recipes and in 2003, they opened a little shop in Bristol. The next year, they became the official pie shop of the Glastonbury Festival. Then they became the pie shop of the Borough Market in London. Pieministers started sprouting around and now, for those of us who live outside their delivery area, Pieminister, the cookbook.

Really, the book is filled with yummy casseroles stuffed into pastry. So if one to find one's self trapped at home with no flour or suet, the book would still work. (Though, frankly, if one has,sausage, cider and potatoes, my guess is there is some flour around.) Of course, in America, it is rather hard to find suet anywhere, except in the occasional bird feeder. Keep your fingers crossed that suet will become the new "It" ingredient and start showing up everywhere. While we don't like to tamper with a recipe, the suet-challenged can stuff this into a fine plain pastry.

Sausage, Cider & Potato Pie

500g new potatoes, cut into slices 6-8mm thick
25g butter
1 onion, sliced
1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 tsp sugar
100ml good-quality cider
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
500g herby sausages
1 quantity of suet pastry
handful of grated Cheddar cheese
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
sea salt and black pepper
a little chopped thyme and/or sage, to decorate

Cook the sliced potatoes in boiling water until tender, then drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook gently until softened. Stir in the apple and sugar and cook until the apple slices are tender but sill hold their shape. They should just be starting to caramelize a little. Pour in the cider and simmer until almost completely evaporated. Stir in the mustard, season with a little black pepper and remove from heat.

Slit the sausages open and peel off the skins. Mix the sausage meat with the potatoes, using your hands to break it up a little. Finally, stir in the warm onion and apple to give a loose mixture.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Use to line a pie tin and then fill with the sausage and apple mixture. Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg. If you like, you can add the Cheddar at this stage, pushing it down into the filling to make cheesy pockets. Roll out the rest of the pastry to about 3mm thick and use to cover the pie, trimming off the excess and pressing the edges together to seal. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and then make a couple of holes in the centre to let out the steam. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through – check by inserting a skewer in the centre; it should come out hot. Serve with a WI-competition-winning chutney.

What could be better? I am headed to the kitchen now.

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