by Joan Saunders | photos by Amanda Cribdon Photography –
I had always thought that hot water pastry was a bit weird. It was one of those traditional recipes that I had never attempted, but I wanted to try making Melton Mowbray pies. They were always my mom’s specialty, so I had happily left the hot water pastry pie-making tradition to her. But I recently decided to bake the pies as a surprise treat for my family.
I usually make a batch of something before I let everyone else enjoy the results, and my inner circle of taste testers enjoyed the initial trials. How can you go wrong with strong pastry, meat, onion and spices? You can’t. My brother tried to kidnap a pie but was fortunately thwarted in his dastardly attempt, so my parents did eventually get to evaluate the finished product and kindly gave me the thumbs up.
Now my interest in hot water pastry was piqued, and when a new cookbook magically opened to some hot water pastry recipes and I found certain members of my family salivating over a different type of meat pie, I thought I’d give it a go for St. Patrick’s Day. While it’s not traditionally made for this date, I know that my family will love this pie as it’s – as I call it – jam-packed full of goodness.
I’ve discovered that hot water pastry is surprisingly flexible, as long as you work with it while it’s still a bit warm. I made the mistake the first time I tried this recipe of rolling out the lid of the pie after I had layered in the fillings, and at that point it wasn’t as easy to manipulate. It’s not a big problem, however, as it’s nothing a little elbow grease can’t handle.
I used fresh cranberries in this version, as I love the contrast of the tart fruit with the meat and herb-laced dressing. To keep it simple, I used pre-made stuffing as I didn’t have any of my own left over. There’s no shame in making it easier for yourself.
But, in the end, this savoury pie is fabulous. It looks great when you slice it, as the layers and colours come together in a wonderfully delicious, sort of sophisticated way. It’s not difficult to make either, and I’m now a hot water pastry convert as it creates an extremely tempting, tasty package for a variety of flavourful fillings.
Jam-Packed Savoury Pie
Hot Water Pastry:
4 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold butter, cut into small chunks
¾ cup plus 1 tbsp water
7 tbsp shortening
1 egg (for glaze)
2 cups of favourite stuffing/dressing (your own, or purchased)
1 pound uncooked sausage meat, crumbled, your choice (I used sage and onion sausage meat from Carnivore)
3 ¾ to 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken, white and dark meat (I used thighs)
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup cranberries, cut in half
Heat oven to 400°. Grease, with shortening, a deep 8-inch springform pan.
Make pastry: mix flour and salt together in large bowl; add butter. Mix/rub in with fingers or pastry blender. In a small saucepan, heat water and shortening together until it just begins to boil. Immediately pour hot liquid onto flour; mix together well with wooden spoon. Tip onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth.
Divide pastry into two-thirds and one-third. Roll out larger piece of dough, line prepared pan, leaving excess pastry hanging over sides. Roll out smaller piece to form lid.
Spoon half of stuffing into pastry crust, pressing down evenly. The back of a spoon works well for this. Add half the crumbled sausage meat; press down to form even layer. Arrange chicken over sausage, then scatter over the apricots and cranberries. Top with rest of sausage, then rest of stuffing.
Brush overhanging pastry edges with water. Put lid on; squeeze pastry edges together to form a seal. Trim off any extra pastry; crimp the edges. To do this, press pastry outwards with one finger between thumb and forefinger of your other hand to create a nice edge.
You can decorate the top with shapes cut from extra pastry. Brush top with egg that’s been beaten to make glaze. Make 2-3 small slits in centre to release steam.
Put pie on baking sheet; bake 30 minutes, lower heat to 325°, bake another 45 minutes. Let pie cool for about 30 minutes; carefully unmold it. Serve hot with roasted veggies, slaw, or cold with chutney or pickled beets.
Adapted/amalgamated from: Bake by Paul Hollywood and my Mom’s recipe.