These little pies are simply divine, and for a gluten free family like us, a real mouthwatering treat. The pastry is so light and crisp and thankfully bears no resemblance whatsoever to that suspicious looking stuff wrapped around equally suspicious 'meat' that we call a pie, these days.
I made these on the spur of the moment one afternoon when the leftover roast shoulder of lamb was begging to be used for something other than a toasted sandwich. Lamb shoulder, by the way, is a far more economical roast than the leg, and is in fact what many of us used to enjoy as our Sunday roast. Slow roasted with garlic and herbs for 3-4 hours, it's a worthy addition to the menu, and yields an enormous amount of meat.
I've modified a recipe from a CWA cookbook written in conjunction with the Lady Mayoress circa 1938, and like many of the old recipes, it worked like a charm.
You can use any shortening you like, but for the sake of authenticity, I used beef shortening (dripping/supafry) as suggested in the original recipe. I figured in the quantities it was required for this dish, we were still far and away ahead of the game compared to the fat content in either bought pastry sheets or bought pies. I found that it really did give a superior result, but we eat very little in the way of added fat and we all have good cholesterol levels, so I'll leave the decision on what shortening you use to your own conscience.
This recipe will work well for either gluten free or normal flour.
I baked these in large (not Texas sized) muffin pan holes.
For three generous rustic pies, you'll need:
For the pastry:
2 level tablespoons shortening (beef dripping, margarine, butter, lard)
3/4 cup plain flour mixed with 2 teaspoons baking powder (or use SR flour) and a pinch of salt Note: I used Laucke Gluten Free Bread/Baking Mix which comes in a white box with blue lettering in the health food section of the supermarket. That's why my pastry has little seeds in it.
2 tablespoons cold milk, plus a little extra for glazing
Extra flour for dusting the bench, or two sheets of baking paper into which to sandwich the dough for rolling
Large scone cutter or egg ring to cut the pastry to size
For the filling:
1 cup of leftover roast meat, diced
1 cup boiling water
1 stock cube
1/2 teaspoon vegemite (optional, for colour)
1 tablespoon cornflour
Seasoning to taste
For the gravy:
Add a cup of boiling water to a microwave safe bowl and stir in the vegemite ensuring it melts and dissipates.
Crumble a stock cube in to a separate cup, and add the cornflour and a tablespoon of water and mix to a paste.
Add the paste to the boiling water and whisk well with a fork or miniature whisk.
Microwave on HIGH in 60 second bursts until it boils and thickens. Check the consistency. It needs to be a pretty thick gravy, but add a little more liquid if it's too thick.
Add the meat and stir well. Set the filling aside while you make the pastry.
For the pastry:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease the muffin pan holes liberally with butter, margarine or a liberal spray of Cooking Spray.
Rub the shortening quickly into the flour with your fingertips. The key to good pastry is to keep everything cold, so don't stress too much about completely dissipating the lumps. A few tiny lumps of the shortening through the flour, is fine.
Dust the bench with a little flour.
Add the milk to the flour mixture and stir with a knife to form a stiff dough. Bring the pastry together with your hands. If it's a little too crumbly to adhere, add more cold milk, a teaspoon at a time. It should form a firm ball when moulded with your hands.
Tip it onto the floured bench or place one sheet of baking paper on the bench, place the dough on it, and cover it with the second sheet. This actually works really well as it prevents the dough from sticking to either the bench or the rolling pin.
Roll the pastry out to about the thickness of a 20c coin.
Cut three bases and three tops, using the large scone cutter.
Gather the remaining dough into a second ball, roll it out again, and cut long strips about 2-3 cms wide, to form the sides of your pies. Just do a guesstimate of the depth of your muffin pan, or if you're particular, measure the depth with a ruler and cut the strips to the corresponding width.
Place a base piece of pastry in each muffin hole, then line the sides with a strip of pastry dough, trimming it to size. Press the dough against the sides of the muffin pans, and press the edges neatly and gently together with your fingers at the bottom, to make the base stick to the side pieces. Prick the base and sides a few times with a fork.
Fill each pie with the meat and gravy filling.
Cover the pies with the remaining circles you've cut for tops.
Use scraps of pastry to cut rough shapes or leaves to decorate the tops if you wish. Press these gently into place.
Glaze the tops of the pies by brushing with a little of the extra cold milk and place the pies in the oven.
Bake until golden brown on top, approximately 25-30 minutes.
To remove the pies from the muffin pan holes, run a sharp knife around the edges of the hole to loosen them, and using a spoon either side, gently lift them from the pan. If you've greased the pan holes sufficiently, they should just lift out. I had two come out perfectly and one that disintegrated....clearly the cook got the messy one. I can assure you it was still delicious!
The great thing about these is whilst this looks like a lot of instructions, I actually had the filling and the pastry made in about 15 minutes, and the pies in the oven 5 minutes later. Within 45 minutes, we had a really delicious meal, that would have seen us parting with anything up to $25 each, in a bistro, café`, restaurant or upmarket pub.
Served with a simple salad, they really are guest worthy, and they need little more than a few scraps of meat, leftovers or even vegetables in a gravy or white sauce to be a truly scrumptious treat.
I've always considered myself an utter pastry novice and I've never yet made a successful pie or pastry dish from scratch...until now.
Give it a try. You'll never buy a frozen pie again :)