I'm always on the lookout for rib-sticking dishes to feed the army of young people who use my house as a base-camp, and I was intrigued by this war-time recipe for a pie made of potato pastry filled with minced beef. 'Do Try These Inviting Patties!' says the recipe, and I did, adding several extra ingredients. The recipe comes from a 1941 issue of Woman's Weekly, which I picked up in my local charity shop, along with a pile of quite wonderful knitting patterns from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
The savoury mince filling below is a lot sexier than that given in the original recipe (see pic below). You can use any savoury pie filling you like, as long as it's not too sloppy. Next time I make these, I'll try them with strips of beef in a peppery gravy; they would also be good with a filling of asparagus in a cheesy white sauce (recipe here).
War-Time Meat Pies with Potato Pastry
For the filling:
2 T (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
1.5 kg lean minced beef (ground beef)
350 ml wine, white or red
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
1 T (15 ml) good dried oregano, or a few fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped
2 T (30 ml) tomato paste
2 T (30 ml) dark soy sauce
2 T (30 ml) Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
For the pastry:
450 g floury potatoes (about 6 large potatoes), peeled and quartered
125 g butter, melted
about 2 cups (500 ml) white flour, sifted (see recipe)
2 t (10 ml) baking powder
1 t (5 ml) hot English mustard powder
1 t (5 ml) salt, or more to taste
1 cup (250 ml) grated cheddar [optional]
a beaten egg
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and grated carrot until just softened. Turn up the heat to its maximum and crumble in the minced beef, in batches, stirring well as it browns. Drain away any excess fat (a good way to do this is to tip the whole lot into a large sieve set over a bowl). Add the wine and the garlic and cook briskly until most of the wine has evaporated. Now stir in all the remaining fillling ingredients. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for an hour, or until the mixture is slightly thickened. If it looks a little dry, add some water or chicken stock.
To make the pastry, boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water until quite tender. Drain. Pour in the melted butter and mash until smooth. Sift the flour, mustard powder, baking powder, salt and pepper into a separate bowl. Now add the flour, in increments, to the mashed potato, stirring well to form a pliable soft dough. You may not need all of it - this will depend on the size and flouriness of the potatoes you used. Add the cheese, if you are using it. Flour a pastry board well and lightly roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 7 mm. Cut out circles the same size as your muffin tins or flan case (use a cookie cutter, or cut around the base of an upturned bowl). Gently press the pastry onto the base and sides of the tins. Brush the rims with a little beaten egg and fill the cases with the mince. Gather up all the pastry, roll it out again, and cut out enough' lids' to cover all the pies. Drape the lids over the pies and, using your fingers, gently seal the edges. Brush all over with beaten egg. Cut a small slit in the top of each pie. Place in a hot oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
Makes 8 individual pies.