Meat and potato pies are a traditional dish of northern England, especially the counties of Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, where meat and potatoes have always formed the basis for a hearty meal. Packed in a pastry the meal becomes portable.
These pies have never been a home-baked product, largely because they have always been ubiquitous in the cafe and chip shop culture of north-west England, Holland’s version being the most popular of the mass-produced brands.
Made with beef, potato and yeast extract in a shortcrust pastry, Holland’s meat and potato pies are also synonymous with sporting events.
Meat and potato pies, as they are known today, began as a workhouse product, are probably related to Irish mutton pies, and were hardly known as a recipe in cookbooks.
Charles Elme Francatelli’s A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, published in 1852, describes a meat pie and a potato pie.
Of whatever kind, let the pieces of meat be first fried brown over a quick fire, in a little fat or butter, and seasoned with pepper and salt; put these into a pie-dish with chopped onions, a few slices of half-cooked potatoes, and enough water just to cover the meat. Cover the dish with a crust, made with two pounds of flour and six ounces of butter, or lard, or fat dripping, and just enough water to knead it into a stiff kind of dough or paste, and then bake it for about an hour and a-half.
Slice up four onions and boil them in a saucepan with two ounces of butter, a quart of water, and pepper and salt, for five minutes; then add four pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut in slices; stew the whole until the potatoes are done, and pour them into a pie-dish; cover this with stiff mashed potatoes, and bake the pie of a light brown colour.
Our version has an Irish stew filling and a peppered crust.
Meat and Potato Pie with Peppered Hot Pastry Crust
- 1 kg potatoes, peeled, quartered
- 750 g lamb, cut into 2 cubes
- 750 g onions, chopped
- 30 g black pepper, freshly ground
- 25 g salt
This is essentially an Irish stew recipe. The quantity is much more than you will need for the filling. Arrange lamb in the bottom of a large pot, turn heat to medium and allow fat to run out of the bones. Stack potatoes on top of the lamb, then the onions and seasoning, more pepper than salt. Fill the pot with water, three-quarters up to the level of the onions, bring to the boil. Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook for three hours.
The result should be a thick meat and potato stew, with the onions completely melted.
- 450 g strong white flour
- 150 ml water
- 125 g lard
- 10 g black pepper
- 10 g salt
- 5 g icing sugar
Bring the lard and water to the boil.
Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl, add pepper and sugar.
Pour the hot liquid into a well in the centre of the flour, and using a sturdy wooden spoon quickly form into a soft dough.
Divide dough into eight equal pieces (approximately 90 g each), cut again – two thirds for the base, one third for the lid.
Push the dough into the bottom and sides of small deep pie tins, diameter 8 cms.
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Pack the tins with the filling, roll the remaining dough out, place over the top of the filling, crimping the edges. Pierce a hole in the centre of the lid.
Reduce oven temperature to 180°C, bake for 90 minutes.