The schools have gone back and the heatwave is tailing off but there is good news – Pie & Pint Wednesday is back at The Crown in Hartest from Wednesday 20th September! Pies are so quintessentially English and just perfect at this time of year when the nights start drawing in.
We wrote about the appeal of a truly great pie in our column for Suffolk News recently. Read on to find out why David Marjoram likes this time of year and try our pie recipe (courtesy of head chef Jason at The Crown in Hartest).
“I generally dislike this time of year. I hate the prospect of the weather cooling, days shortening and the temperature plummeting in the months ahead. There are, however, one or two little rays of sunshine, keeping my mood buoyant as we head into autumn.
Firstly, our array of produce is at its most abundant. September, I would argue, is the month in which we have the greatest choice of local ingredients. Secondly, at this time of year I start eating richer, more indulgent food. I’m ready to forget the salads for a while and bring on the heartier, comforting plates that we are so good at in the UK and should maybe start taking a bit more pride in.
There are many paths I could head down at this point. I thought about stew and dumplings or maybe my all-time favourite (when cooked well), calves liver and bacon. But really, what beats the humble pie? No, I don’t mean a sloppy casserole with a puff pastry disc thrown on the top, I mean a real, shortcrust pastry (surrounding the filling on all sides) pie!
Meals at their best are better than the sum of their parts and I don’t think there can be a better example of this than a really well-made pie. For many years, we have featured individual pies regularly on our pub menus and we’ve played with hundreds of different fillings and tweaks to the pastry spec. But we always insist on two things remaining the same – they must always be cooked fresh to order and they must always come with a jug of extra gravy or sauce on the side. Served simply with some buttery mash and a green vegetable, it may just be the perfect pub meal to help ease you into autumn.
On Wednesdays from late September until May, we feature a Pie & Pint offer at The Crown, Hartest. Each week we offer a choice of three different pies with mash and greens, served with a drink for £15. So Jason, our head chef at The Crown, seemed the obvious man to ask to share his favourite early autumn pie recipe.
JASON’S EARLY AUTUMN PIE
250g plain flour
125g cold cubed butter
50g cold water
500g diced chuck
1 medium onion
2 sticks celery
1 pint Brewshed best bitter
2 tablespoons plain flour
For the tins:
20g butter to line the tins
1 egg yolk to glaze
Finely chop the onion, carrots and celery and fry in a big pan on a medium heat until translucent. Add the diced beef, a pinch of salt, then turn up the heat and brown the meat, this should take roughly five minutes.
Add two tablespoons of plain flour to the onion, carrot, celery and beef mix and cook out to thicken the sauce. Once the flour has been absorbed and no longer looks clumpy, add the best bitter and stir. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and cover with foil – braise in the oven for one hour at 160C.
Whilst the pie filling is cooking, make the pastry. Rub together the flour and butter (you can do this in a food processor or with your fingertips), then slowly add in half of the water and incorporate, then add the rest. Form the pastry into a disc and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Remove the pie filling from the oven, check for seasoning and allow it to cool.
Once rested, roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it’s the thickness of a pound coin. You can make individual pies or one big pie, but you’ll need to butter the tin first to allow the pie to come out of the mould. Cut a top and a bottom, line the bottom half of the pie tin and push it into the corners, add the pie mix, then using a pastry brush, paint one side of the lid and use the brushed side to stick the lid to the pie base and crimp the edges. Paint the top of the pie pastry with the remaining egg yolk mixture and make a small steam hole in the middle of the pie.
You can keep the pies in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them. To cook the pies, preheat the oven to 200C and bake for 25 minutes.“