Savoury pies are another of those great winter comfort foods - crisp pastry encasing a steaming, oozing mix of your favourite meats and vegetables. Sounds lovely but what if I can't be bothered making and rolling the pastry and as for forming it into little pies - ugh there are other things to do with my time.
For these days I like to make this...
...the Easy Peasy Pie.
There's nothing wrong with taking short cuts every now and again (or more often depending on the situation). This pie is created using two sheets of ready rolled puff pastry - I like to use the butter puff, but that's just a personal preference.
Lay one sheet down on a baking tray and brush around it's edge with milk (if you want to use an egg wash you can, but there's no need). Spoon your filling on top of this sheet but leave an edge about 1cm wide on all four sides. Continue placing the filling until it's about an inch (2.5cm) high. Carefully place the second sheet on top, lining it up along the edges. Begin pinching the edges together, pulling slightly to get them resting on the tray surface. Take a fork and press the tines along the edge, to ensure the seal.
Cut a little cross into the centre of the pie - you must make an air hole or the build up of steam inside the pastry case will cause the pie to explode along the edges.
Finish it off with the milk wash and a sprinkling of sesame seeds (poppy seeds are equally nice). Cook in a preheated oven 180°C/350°F for 45 minutes or until it's nicely golden.
As for fillings, well, what have you got in the fridge? These no secret recipe here. I usually start with onions and carrots and get them going until they are beginning to caramelise. Then I add the "softer" ingredients, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, so I can release their moisture and sweat them down a little. Next would come the meat, a rough dice or coarse mince of beef (or chicken, pork etc). This is when I'd keep stirring and tossing it through, I want the meat to brown. Finally I add small cubes of potato (or pumpkin, sweet potato - the starchy ingredients). Toss through the mix before adding stock until it almost covers the top of the ingredients. You let this simmer away for a hour or so, checking on the liquid level. Just before it's done, prepare a mix of corn-flour and water and stir this in - this gives that gooeyness that savoury pies must have. Cook for a few more minutes and then put it aside to cool. And there you have the pie filling, ready to use.
Flavourings, likewise are personal choices. I like to make curry pies and find a good Hot Madras Curry powder added with the onions creates a lovely aroma throughout the house and a nicely spiced pie to boot. If I wanted something more Mediterranean, I would use lots of fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, parsley, garlic, perhaps some fresh chili for an extra kick - a slug of wine along with the stock would also be a good match. For Thai influenced pies, use garlic, chili, fresh ginger, lemongrass, coriander and coconut milk as your thickening agent. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.