MASH AND LIQUOR . . . THE POSH VERSION
& COOKING ARTICLE
trials and tribulations of a keen cook, food lover and
novice allotmenteer -
Dan of Food
lately, I seem to be eating a lot of pie and mash and
thinking a lot about it too. I blame Dan from Essex
Eating after meeting him at Clarks of Exmouth
Market a couple of months ago to make a wild garlic
drop and he paid me back in kind with lunch. I hadn't
had it in a while but after taking that first mouthful
of mash and liquor, I suddenly remembered how much I
love the stuff. Consequently I have been making repeated
lunch time visits back to Clarks for plates and plates
of double pie & mash.
Pie and Mash inspiration
This is not good, my work colleagues are starting
to notice an expanding waistline, my wife left my
running shoes on display on the table the other day
and the twins have been using my belly as a bouncy
castle. It really is becoming a case of "Who
ate all the pies" but with the added ".
. . and mash".
No not good. So I started wondering if I made it
at home and jazzed it up a little, added a few extra
(expensive) ingredients, I could then turn the dish
into more of a treat, something that I could eat just
once in a while and not have as part of my staple
diet and then perhaps I could rein in my appetite
for the stuff. Perhaps.
If so far you are reading this and asking yourself
"Why is this guy so mad about pie and mash
anyway? What's so special about a minced beef pie
served with mashed potato and parsley gravy?",
well just listen here it's part of my heritage, I
was born in the East End of London, I am a Cockney
Geeza and was brought up on the stuff . . . I was
born within the sound of the Bow Bells and if I so
wished I could lord it about town dressed as a Pearly
King and prance about singing "Doing the Lambeth
Walk, OI!" whilst eating jellied eels by
the bucket load!
Growing up on Pie & Mash
What is it about this simple combination that appeals
to so many?
personally, my love for this dish does indeed stem
back to childhood as we used to live near Upton Park,
home of the Hammers and every Saturday Mum would take
my sister and I to Queens Market to do some shopping,
rewarding us afterwards with a plate of pie &
mash at the local cafe.
If it had been a wet and miserable day then all the
better as the cafe was always warm and smelled great.
We'd take up a table whilst Mum would go and queue,
leaving us waiting for what seemed like an eternity,
watching open mouthed as she slowly edged along the
I vaguely remember dribbling on my jacket once which
wasn't good form for an eight year old, my sister
could get away with it though as she was only three.
Eventually Mum would come back and plonk a plate down
in front of us and I would plaster it with vinegar
before tearing into the pie and mash with a fork and
spoon (and you always eat pie & mash with a
fork and spoon . . . it's the rules).
The pie would be scalding hot at first but if you
flipped it over and cut open the base, it would cool
quicker, so you could get to the mince meat gravy
faster. The mash was always dense and stodgy but you
could always loosen it up with the parsley liquor
making it nice and sloppy. The best part would be
at the end, spooning leftover liquor that was all
mixed up with vinegar and gravy from the meat into
your mouth, practically drinking it. I appreciate
that this way of dining may not be appetising to all
but to me it was, and still remains, a heavenly treat.
Pie & Mash . . . building the dish, creating
on to the recipe below which is going to stop me from
over gorging and which was born out of several ideas.
To start, I had read that from its origin in the late
Eighteenth century, pies used to be made with oysters
as they were cheap and in plentiful supply so I thought
it would be good to re-introduce them to the dish.
Secondly, I wanted to steer away from the standard
mince meat pie and make the filing a little more luxurious,
so I decided to go with braising steak that had been
slow-cooked to make it meltingly tender. I also wanted
to play around with the appearance and my wife (yet
again) came up with the idea of making an open-pie
where we could stack the components of mash, meat
and pastry on top of each other.
For this I needed to find a mousse ring big enough
to plate up with. I did make one visit to Pages but
they didn't have any big or deep enough. After a few
Tweets on the ever resourceful Twitter, Charlie of
eatmynels suggested cutting rings from empty 2 litre
fizzy drinks bottles which was a brilliant Blue Peter
suggestion! I cut mine out so that it was approximately
10 cms deep. I found some pointers on making the liquor,
though after a bit more research I think I've found
the missing ingredient . . . eel stock. Although I
couldn't find any eels to boil up I was able to get
hold of some jellied ones which seemed to do just
the trick, honestly the liquor was just as good as
the stuff in Clarks.
By the way, I have made this just once . . . this week.
Last week I did it twice and next week . .
POSH PIE AND MASH WITH LIQUOR RECIPE
Serves 2 but there was plenty left over!
Ingredients for Pie and Mash
For the Pie and Mash:
450gms of braising steak, cut into chunks
250gms puff pastry
1 onion, finely chopped
125gms chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
5 large potatoes (maris piper), peeled and cut into
200 mls Guinness
200 mls stock (I used Marigold vegetable bouillon)
2 small bay leaves
3 springs of thyme
1 tbs of tomato puree
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
For the liquor:
8 oysters, shucked (save the 'juices' with the
oyster flesh in a bowl)
tub of jellied eels
500 mls water
large bunch of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1 tsp of malt vinegar
How to make Pie and Mash
pre-heat oven to 160°C then melt some butter in
a casserole dish, add the onion and mushroom and gently
fry until soft, then remove from the dish. Coat the
braising steak in seasoned flour, add to the pan and
brown the meat until well coloured.
the mushrooms and onions to the dish and then add
the stock, Guinness, bay, thyme, tomato puree, a good
splash of worcestershire sauce and any remaining flour.
Stir and bring to the boil and then cover with a lid
and place in the oven for 1 and half to 2 hours.
the casserole dish out and if nice and tender, shred
the braising steak with two forks. If there is still
a lot of liquid, put back in the oven for half an
hour. The aim is to get a thick meaty mix that will
hold together when constructing the 'open' pie. Put
to one side and keep warm
about an hour in of cooking the steak, place potatoes
in saucepan, cover with water, bring to boil and then
simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and then add liberal
amounts of butter and a splash of milk, mash with
masher. Put to one side and keep warm. (That just
felt like teaching my grandma to suck eggs)
the oven up to 200°C and roll out puff pasty on
a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin,
cut one circle out per person, making sure that it
is slightly larger then the Blue Peter inspired ring.
Put on a flat baking tray and brush with beaten egg
and then place in the oven for 10 minutes or until
the pastry has puffed up nice and fluffy.
the tub of jellied eels into a saucepan, pour over
cold water and bring the boil, then simmer for about
10 minutes until reduced by a third. Pour the stock
into a jug using a sieve to catch the eel meat and
bones. Then using same saucepan, melt some butter
and add flour to make a roux, then gradually add the
eel stock back into the pan, stirring all the time,
bringing to the boil. When it starts to thicken add
the parsley, a couple of twists of salt and pepper
and the vinegar.
the heat down to simmer and place the oysters along
with the juices in the liquor to poach for 3 - 4 minutes.
it's time to plate up. Place the ring in the middle
of the plate and spoon the mashed potato up about
till half way, smoothing the surface over with the
back of the spoon. Then add the thick steak mixture
until it reaches the top, again smoothing over. Slowly
and surely lift the ring up, leaving the meat and
potato firmly in place. Gently place a puff pastry
lid on top.
the oysters from the pan and position around the outside
and then pour the remaining liquor around the outside
of the open pie and over the oyster, tidying the rim
of the plate if necessary.
with a liberal dashing of extra vinegar and white
Pie, Mash and Liquor article was written by Dan
who writes the Food
Urchin Blog - The trials and tribulations of a keen
cook, food lover and novice allotmenteer.
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org