Hannah Burton remembers childhood family treks in the Dales and shares the recipe for a heart-warming pie…
My family used to go to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales for idyllic hiking holidays, and my grandma’s wonderful steak pie instantly transports me back to those happy, worn out days. My dad would plot a simple ten-mile hike for the family and invariably fail to account for several fast-flowing rivers or impassable hill summits, resulting in a much longer walk than planned. We would trudge back to the cottage with aching feet and the type of appetite that could only be worked up from a day spent out in the elements. Mum and grandma would then hand out washing up bowls filled with hot, soapy water for us to soak our feet in before they prepared our evening meal. Every evening we hoped for grandma’s perfect, rich pie. Both my mum and grandma have influenced my cooking, as I, like them, favour hearty Yorkshire home-cooking above all else – leave me in a kitchen for an hour or so and I’ll make a pie with gravy and Yorkshire puddings almost on auto-pilot.
For a dose of happy family memories, here’s how to make grandma’s top-notch pie:
Grandma makes her pie without a real recipe (she’s part of that impressive generation that doesn’t need such things), so for the pastry, she simply told me to use half fat to flour quantities and not to roll it too thin. The Great British Bake Off: How To Bake shortcrust recipe has never failed me, so those without a lifetime of pastry-making expertise might do to follow these instructions:
For the pastry
Sift 150g plain flour and 1/8 tsp salt into a large bowl, add 75g unsalted diced butter and toss so the chunks are covered in flour. Using a round knife, chop the butter to coat in flour. Using your fingertips, rub the flour and butter together until the mixture looks like fine crumbs and no large chunks of butter remain. Gradually pour in two tablespoons of icy water and stir with the knife until it all comes together as dough. Gather it all together into a ball and knead for a couple of seconds. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 mins.
For the perfect pie filling
For the filling, you’ll need a good quantity of meat, as there’s nothing worse than a scarcely-filled pie. Use the best quality lean steak you can afford, and cut it up into 1/2 inch cubes. Cook this is a slow-cooker, covered in hot gravy for several hours until the meat is tender. When the filling is ready, add some more gravy and pour it into the pie dish.
Bake your pie
Once you’ve poured the filling into the pie dish, dampen the rim of the dish with a little bit of water and roll the pastry out to make the lid. Drape it over the dish and press it into the ridges to seal. Trim the edges around the dish, knock up the sides by making lots of small horizontal cuts, and pinch the sides on the top a little all the way around to give a ridged edge to the pie. Slice a one-inch-long slit in the centre of the pie to let the steam escape.
Bake in an oven preheated to 230C for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190C. Cook for a further 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Grandma’s top pie tip:
When making pies I always include a pastry bottom but grandma doesn’t for this pie, and grandma knows best. She would sometimes top the filling with thin slices of potato before adding the pastry top, though (so naughty, but so delicious).
Tom’s Pies are offering one lucky winner their very own ‘Pie Dinner Party’. Tom’s Pies, mash, minted peas and gravy will be delivered to the door ready to heat up and serve for up to twelve people!
So how do you win? Nominate whoever you think deserves this delicious treat to turn up at their front door. Easy! Family, friends, work colleagues, anyone! Email us your nomination as to why they deserve this perfect night in with friends or family in no more than fifty words to firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows, you could be sat down for a pie feast before you know it!
Entries close at midnight on Sunday 8th March. The winner must be based in mainland UK to qualify. For full terms and conditions for entry please see the website.
Hannah’s favourite Tom’s Pie
“My favourite Tom’s pie is the chicken, ham hock and leek – it’s perfect on a cold and blustery day.”
Hungry for more pies? Read our exclusive interview with the pie man himself.