This is one of my absolute favourite recipes from my most recent ebook, Cheaper than Chips - a collection of my best food budgeting tips and delicious recipes to help you put them into practice. If you like the sound of this, you can download Cheaper than Chips here!
This is a delicious pie filled with homemade stuffing,
which is a time-honoured way of using bread and onions to make the meat go
further. The bread absorbs plenty of flavour so you won’t even notice it’s there
– it just makes the filling wonderfully tender and moist. Using ready-made puff
pastry is a good cheat because it’s usually good quality and very cheap. Serve
with rich gravy and peas for proper mid-week comfort food.
3 rashers of streaky bacon
500g ready-made puff pastry
A spoonful of jam (something sharp rather than sweet, for
Peas or green beans, to serve
Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan, gas mark 5). To
start, peel and finely dice the onions, and get them frying in a saucepan with
a generous scoop of butter. Cut the bacon rashers into small pieces and add to the pan with a good
sprinkle of thyme. Fry gently until the onions have completely softened – don’t
turn the heat up too high or they’ll start going crispy instead.
Cut the links between the sausages, and this should open
up the skin of each one. Just grab the skin and pull – it should come away from
the meat easily. When you’ve unzipped all three, add the meat to the pan and
break up with a wooden spoon.
Once the meat has lost its pink colour, it’s time to add
the bread. Tear it up and dip into cold water, then lift out handfuls and
squeeze hard to get rid of any excess liquid. Add to the pan and break up with
a wooden spoon. Season well and stir until the mixture is well-combined, then
transfer to a bowl and leave to cool completely.
Roll out the pastry so that it’s about 3mm thick. Get out
an ovenproof dish – this mixture will neatly fill a dish that’s 18cm wide and
5cm deep (if that sounds odd, it’s because I used my old fashioned 9 inch baker
and converted it to metric), but obviously use what you’ve got. Grease the
inside well with butter, then line it with the pastry, gently pushing it down
to the bottom without making any holes. Trim off the excess, leaving a couple
of centimetres overlap, and then spoon the filling in and roughly level the
Squash the trimmings into a ball and then roll out again
to the same thickness. Lay over the top of the pie, trim again (leaving the
same kind of margin) and then pinch the edges of the top and bottom pieces
together, scrunching them over to make a tight seal. Now brush the top of the
pie with a spoonful of milk – this will give it a nice shiny brown crust in the
oven. If you haven’t got a pastry brush, just spread it with the back of the
spoon. Poke a hole in the middle of the pie to let the steam escape, and then
pop in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
Now it’s time to make your gravy – I use a gravy powder
as a base, which I think turns out beautifully as long as you give it plenty of
time. Pop two tablespoonfuls of gravy powder into a jug, add a small splash of
cold water and mix well to form a smooth paste, then top up with cold water to
make 500ml of gravy. Pour into a small pan over a medium heat, and once steam
is starting to rise, add a sprinkle of dried thyme, a pinch of extra salt and a
spoonful of jam – this might sound an odd thing to use, but a bit of fruity
flavour really makes gravy taste special. Something tangy like redcurrant,
cherry or plum will work best. Stir the gravy regularly until the pie is ready.
time to boil your peas. Don’t add any salt as it will toughen them up – just
cook in plain boiling water for 3 minutes.
Finally, to serve the pie, gently run a knife around the
edge to loosen it, then place a plate on top, hold it tightly and turn it over
to get the pie out. If you’re a bit nervous about doing this, you can of course
just serve it from the dish! Add a healthy spoonful of greens and a generous
splash of gravy.