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 in his A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, published in 1852, described 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 wheat 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.
Tourists visiting the Mediterranean islands of Crete, Cyprus, Malta, Sicily and Sardinia might be forgiven for thinking there is an ad hoc competition among their restaurants to see who produces the best pasta bake. The Greeks of course will tell you their pastitsio is the best and the rest are mere imitations.
And there is the dilemma, each chef – domestic and professional – has their own interpretation, albeit subtle tweaks that are not always discernable.
We have favoured an eastern Mediterranean sensibility with cheese custard for the topping rather than a white sauce, thick tube pasta cooked and dressed with eggs and cheese, and a meat filling flavoured with onion, marjoram, mint, parsley and thyme.
500 g penne / rigatoni pasta
2 eggs, beaten
90 g hard cheese
60 g butter
5 g black pepper
Salt, large pinch
2 gratings of nutmeg
750 g beef / lamb / pork mince
250 g onion, thin sliced
125 ml meat stock
45 ml dry white wine
30 ml vegetable oil
5 g black pepper
5 g salt
5 sprigs parsley, chopped small
10 mint leaves, chopped small
5 sprigs marjoram
5 sprigs thyme
1 litre full-fat milk
500 g halloumi cheese, grated
4 eggs, whisked
45 g cornflour
30 ml water
90 g kefalotiri cheese / hard cheese, grated
Butter, for greasing
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain and place in a large bowl. Melt butter and pour over the pasta. Add the cheese and seasonings, toss, add eggs and toss again. Set aside.
Sauté onion in oil for 10 minutes, add the meat and cook until brown. Add the wine, stock, herbs and seasonings, simmer for 20 minutes until almost all of the liquid has been reduced. Leave to cool.
Whisk the eggs and milk for the topping in a pot, bring slowly to the boil. Whisk the water into the cornflour, pour slowly into the egg-milk mixture, heat gradually until the mixture begins to thicken, add the cheese.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Grease a large baking tray, place half of the pasta mixture on the bottom, follow with the meat mixture, the remaining pasta mixture and the cheese custard. Sprinkle the top with the grated hard cheese.
Some years ago a battle over the authenticity, fidelity and ownership of bobotie, a type of meatloaf with a custard crust, shone a bright light on Cape Malay traditional cuisine.
Salwaa Smith, author of Cape Malay Cooking and Other Delights, produced her version of the recipe. ‘I did lots of research into authentic Cape Malay recipes and all the articles I came across was of the notion that bobotie is a Cape Malay dish which came with slaves who arrived from Java and various Indonesian islands in 1658. Being slaves, the Malays often ended up in the Dutch kitchens and their influence remains apparent in dishes such as bobotie.’
Salwaa Smith featured the battle in her web magazine. It includes links to the ‘rainbow’ versions of bobotie and the use of particular ingredients, of which the spices are constant, if not the quanity. The amount is personal and curry powder can replace the individual spices, between 15 grams and 25 grams plus one teaspoon of turmeric per per 500 grams of meat. Garlic is generally a background flavour, between one and two cloves for the same amount of meat.
Our version is an adaptation of Salwaa Smith’s recipe.
A cornucopia of flavours, this plov is one of the traditional dishes of Damghan in the province of Semnan in the north-east of Iran. The ingredients vary. It can be made with an assortment of meats or without meat, and with various fruits and nuts. The constant is the marriage of long grain rice with yellow spilt peas, the fragrance of rosewood and saffron and the rice-yoghurt-saffron base. Serve with yoghurt or with a salad. We recommend in summer this orange and onion salad. Variations can be found on Iran Cook.
600 g long grain rice
500 ml water + water for boiling peas and rice
400 g chicken / beef / lamb (optional)
300 g onions, sliced
250 g yellow split peas, soaked for two hours
200 g raisins
60 ml hot water with one teaspoon of rosewood and one teaspoon of saffron
60 ml water
50 g almonds, dry roasted, chopped
15 g dried barberries / 75 g fresh barberries
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Oil for frying onions and meat + frying fruit
250 g long grain rice, cooked or baked, left to cool
4 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp saffron
15 g butter to grease the bottom of the pot
15 ml oil to grease the bottom of the pot
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
Cook the peas until al dente, keep warm in cooking water.
Fry the onions in oil in a large frying pan over a high heat for 5 minutes, cover, reduce heat to low, cook for 15 minutes. Add choice of meat, fry until browned, add turmeric, seasonings and water, cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes.
Fry the raisins in oil over a medium heat for 3 minutes, cover, reduce heat to low, cook for 20 minutes.
In a large pot boil 2 litres of water, pour the rice, bring back to the boil, remove from heat, leave for 5 minutes. Strain the rice.
Strain the peas.
Combine the peas and rice in a clean pot, add 400 millilitres of water, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cook for 15 minutes.
Prepare the base.
Combine cooked or baked rice with the egg, yoghurt, saffron and seasonings.
Melt the butter with the oil over a low heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot, diameter no less than 25 centimeters. Fold the rice-yoghurt-saffron mixture into the pot, gently smooth out to cover the base.
Arrange the meat mixture in an even layer over the rice-yoghurt-saffron base. Sprinkle the barberries on top of the meat mixture. Carefully fold the pea-rice mixture on top of the barberries. Pour the rosewood-saffron water into the pea-rice mixture, finish with a layer of the cooked raisins.
Increase the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
No cookbook about traditional European food would be complete without the basic recipe for kotletki, if only as a reminder that meat was once scarce and ingenious ways were always being invented to transform beef or veal, chicken or turkey, lamb or pork into a tasty dish.
Kotletki are variously called patties or rissoles but they were never meat burgers and, despite the common denominators of soaked white bread, breadcrumbs and spices, they were never odd-shaped meatballs.
Kotletki were and are generally made with beef, but these days they are made with whatever ingredients are in the larder. There are no rules about ingredients, just the method.
This version includes a stuffing of fresh apple and dried apricot in a meat and potato casing.
500 g beef, ground
400 g waxy potatoes, baked whole, mashed
1 sweet apple, cored, peeled, puréed
100 g breadcrumbs
50 g dried apricots, chopped small
5 g dill, chopped
Black pepper, freshly ground, pinch
Flour, for dusting
Oil, for greasing
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Combine beef, breadcrumbs, dill, egg, potatoes and seasonings.
Combine apple and apricot in a small bowl.
Divide into 90 gram pieces, cut in half and twin.
Dust flour on a clean surface.
Place each half in the flour, press into thin ovals, 10 cm in diameter. Repeat and keep the twin rounds together.
Put a heaped teaspoon of the apple-apricot mixture on one of the twin rounds, place the second on top. Seal the edges and using a fork make indentations around the edges.
Place the kotletki on a greased baking tray.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake for a further 15 minutes until they take on some colour and are crisp at the edges.
300 g long grain rice, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained
200 g carrots, peeled, cut into small dice
150 g onion, sliced thin
4 tbsp butter / oil
3 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
Melt a tablespoon of butter or pour oil onto a frying pan, begin to sauté the onions. Cover and fry gently for 15 minutes until the onions are soft and creamy. Place the fried onions in the bottom of a deep saucepan. Put the lid on, and keep warm.
Add a tablespoon of butter or oil to the frying pan, sauté carrots for 10 minutes. Add the carrots to the onions. Heat through.
Add two tablespoons of butter or oil to the frying pan, fry the lamb for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir into the carrots and onions in the saucepan.
Spoon the rice on top of the carrot-onion-lamb mixture, season and pour in stock or water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Once dimples form on the rice, place a paper towel between the pan and the lid. Turn the heat down to lowest setting. Cook for 5 minutes.
Take the pilaf off the heat, rest for 15 minutes with lid on.
Before service, place a plate on top of the saucepan, carefully invert to put the lamb mixture on top of the rice. Serve immediately.
Place the lamb in a large bowl, add the ginger, saffron, turmeric, seasonings and spice mixture. Rub spices into the meat. Pour sufficient water to cover, refrigerate overnight.
Melt butter in oil in a saucepan over a low heat, add the onion and salt, sauté for ten minutes. Add the meat, increase heat and brown. Pour sufficient water to cover, add cinnamon, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the meat is cooked.
Remove cinnamon sticks and discard. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Add the honey and apricots or raisins to the remaining liquid, reduce to a sauce consistency. Put meat back in the sauce, heat through.
Serve with the roasted almonds and roasted sesame seeds.
Smen MOROCCO EUROPE clarified butter
250 g unsalted butter
5 g salt
Melt butter, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through muslin several times until the liquid is clear, add salt, pour into a sterlised jar.
Traditionally made with lamb or mutton, sodd is sometimes made with beef. More of a soup than a stew, sodd is characterised by the gentle flavour of the stock used for the broth and the separately coooked vegetables. One of Norway’s most popular traditional dishes.
Lamb / Mutton
5 litres water
1.5 kg lamb or mutton leg / neck / shoulder, 250 g lean and a little fat removed, fine minced
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp nutmeg, grated
1 tsp salt
Cut 250 g lean meat and a little fat from the chosen piece of meat, add salt, mince. Tradition calls for a dozen runs through the mincer, and one more for luck!
Braise the meat in salted water, remove the foamy scum that forms on the surface, reduce heat to slow, simmer for three hours, until meat is tender, strain liquid and keep warm.
The meat should fall off the bone, cut into large cubes.
1.5 kg water
1 kg potatoes, cut large
500 g carrots, chopped small
10 g salt
Cook the potatoes in the same volume of water until almost ready Cook the carrots in just enough water to cover them until they are al dente.
500 ml lamb stock
250 g lamb mince
75 ml cream
2 tsp cornflour / potato flour
2 tsp ginger, ground
1 tsp nutmeg, grated
Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch
Stir cornflour or potato flour, spices and cream into the minced lamb, shape with wet hands into walnut-sized balls, around 25 grams each.
Poach in lamb stock for 10 minutes. When they rise to the surface they are ready.
Pour the stock into bowls, add the carrots, broth balls and braised lamb. Serve with crispbread and potatoes on the side.