Eyes on the pies
- Credit: Archant
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis makes the ultimate comfort food. Photos: Sarah Lucy Brown
As we edge into the ‘er’ months nothing is more welcome than a big fat wedge of pie. From steak and ale, bubbling over and burnished at the edges with malty gravy, to poached chicken, swimming in a pool of earthy, creamy mushroom sauce under a delicate blanket of puff pastry – there’s something about pie that is deeply comforting and satisfying.
Try popping one of these pastry creations on the table this month. They require a little time, so are probably best reserved for weekend baking. But they are so worth it.
Mini raised game pies with blackberry and red wine jelly
Makes 12 mini pies
The Wild Meat Company’s mixture of wild boar, pigeon, pheasant and venison are bound here with venison mince and Suffolk sausagemeat. Surrounded by a quivering layer of sweet jelly, there’s probably nothing better than these for a posh early autumn picnic. Don’t be scared of the hot water crust pastry. It’s one of the easiest types to work with (it won’t stick to everything).
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or the hot water crust pastry
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 large egg beaten
1 extra egg for brushing
For the filling
350g mixed game meat
300g venison mince
400g pork sausages
2 handfuls white breadcrumbs
1 egg beaten
2tbsps fresh chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1tsp fresh black pepper,
a pinch or two salt
For the jelly
4 leaves gelatine
2tbsp brown sugar
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1. Place the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water and allow to soak for 10 minutes. While they are soaking place the blackberries, sugar and cinnamon in a pan and reduce down until the fruit is really soft. Pass the berries through a sieve to remove seeds and weigh the juice and pulp. Top up to 450ml with red wine and bring to the boil. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the mix. Stir to dissolve and pour into a bowl. Allow to cool.
2. For the pie filling chop the game meat very finely and mix with the other ingredients.
3. For the pastry place lard and water in a pan, melt then bring to the boil. Add the salt, egg and flour and take off the boil. Stir to combine then knead together. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
4. Pre heat the oven to 200C and get out a muffin tin.
5. Roll the pastry out around 5mm thick (you don’t want it thin) and cut into circles twice the size of the holes in your muffin tin (I used the lid of a water jug). Place the circles into the holes and fill three quarters with filling.
6. Cut out smaller circles the size of the top of the muffin holes and pop them on top. Tuck the pastry on top around the sides of the meat to enclose it then pinch up the sides of the pastry to connect to the top.
7. Brush with the egg, make a hole in the centre of each and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely then carefully pour the jelly liquid into the hole of each, stopping when you see it rise to the top. Set in the fridge overnight.
Serving suggestion: Serve cold with a glass of your favourite red. A smooth Grenache would work perfectly.
Confit plum, sweet ginger and almond tarte
When you’ve made jam. When you’ve made compote. When you’ve crumbled till you can crumble no more, there is this fine tarte. The sweet pate sable is biscuit-like and robust, revealing a creamy almond frangipane, buttery, gingery confit plums and a crumble of ginger biscuits over the top. Serve slightly warm with a dollop of cream.
For the pate sucree
250g plain flour
125g unsalted butter
70g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
ice cold water
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg beaten for brushing
For the confit plums
8 plumps, halved and stoned
100ml Thorncroft pink ginger cordial
75g unsalted butter
For the frangipane
125g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
1tsp almond extract
Ginger biscuits crushed to serve
1. Pre-heat the oven to 210C.
2. Start by making the pastry. On a clean surface blend the butter and sugar together with your fingertips until no butter lumps remain. Add the egg yolk and almond extract and pinch together again. Add the flour and press together using a palette knife, adding a touch of iced water to combine into a light non sticky pastry. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
3. Make the plums. Place in a wide pan with the cordial, 100ml water and the butter. Bring to the boil then simmer gently until the plums begin to soften. Turn off the heat, place the plums in a bowl and reduce the cooking juices by half. Pour the juices over the plums and leave to cool.
4. Mix all the ingredients for the frangipane together.
5. Now take a 22cm loose bottom tart tin and roll out the pastry on a floured surface so it is big enough to just overhang the tin. Line the tin with the pastry, cover with greaseproof paper and place in some baking beans. Bake in the pre-heated oven for eight minutes.
6. Remove the paper and beans and trim the pastry edges, patching up any small holes with leftover pastry. Brush with the beaten egg and return to the oven for four minutes. Brush again with beaten egg and return to the oven for three minutes.
7. Pour the frangipane into the tart case and gently remove the plums from their syrup, placing them into the tart. Bake for 20 minutes on 180C.
8. Serve with the leftover juices and cream, crushing some ginger biscuits over the top for added texture and taste.