There are many skills our parents took for granted which have been lost in our supercharged, 200mph, consumer led culture. Having fresh fish caught by uncle whilst out in his boat, the abundance of runner beans or potatoes throughout the summer, or the homemade Elderflower wine we used as a cold remedy in winter. As far as cooking is concerned, we all have a cherished memory of our mother’s cooking. My mother baked bread, various fruit pies, rice puddings and her signature, lemon meringue pie. She made the finest rissoles, always full of corned beef. I remember my father commenting on a chippy in Porthcawl. Whilst enjoying rissole and chips, dad said “Boy, you get a prize if you can find any meat in these!” Wry, dry sense of humour was Dad.
One classic dish I always looked forward to was corned beef pie. Mashed potatoes, with boiled onions & carrots mixed with corned beef, served in case of short crust pastry. A dense pie which although wasn’t dry, came with lashings of beef gravy, & probably more potatoes – chips.
Tonight, I am attempting to recreate the flavours & add something of my own to this childhood delicacy – but I am not serving chips!
- 1.2kg Potatoes
- 2 Chunky Carrots
- 1 White onion
- 1 Can Corned Beef
- 1 Sheet of ready rolled pastry (I prefer Lighter Puff)
- 1 egg (for wash)
- Peel the vegetables and roughly chop
- Place in a large pan of salted water and boil until the potatoes are soft.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature
- Roll out on a prepared surface (floured)
- Measure your pie dish and estimate each “1/2” allowing extra for the depression.
- Don’t panic if you think there’s not enough pastry; ready rolled is quite thick and will roll out further
- Quickly check the size and roll out
- Line the dish with the pastry and make a couple holes with a fork to stop the lining pastry rising too much
- When the veg is ready, strain and allow to cool in the colander for a few minutes
- Take a can of corned beef at room temperature and cut up the meat
- Using a potato masher and a spatula, start mashing the veg and add the meat.
- You are trying to make for an even mix
- Cover with the pastry lid.
- Trim an excess and with a fork seal the lid and sides.
- Don’t forget to make some chimney holes so that the steam whilst baking can escape
- Finish with the egg wash (beaten egg brushed over the lid)
- Bake at 180C for 25 minutes or until a lovely shade of brown
My mother would use any left over pieces of pastry to fashion designs for the top. All made by hand just to use up the excess. I see so many professionals using all manner of tools and they are artists. This pie is homely and what my mother lacked in visual artistry she over compensated for in culinary and flavour. Its almost 10 years since I said goodbye to her, and with my undying thanks for all she did for me, I will honour her memory with my own attempt at handmade pie decoration.
Diolch Mam xxx