I made this pie yesterday.
It was a simple, lazy Saturday afternoon, and we had some friends round who we see far too little of. Everybody drank coffee and talked and sat in the sun, and the kids played, and I holed up in the kitchen, listened to John Coltrane and made a pie.
And it was a very, very fine pie, a bold and beautiful collision of meat, potato and pastry, spiked with rich sun-dried tomatoes and the sharp sting of chilli.
So, this is just sausage and potato in a pastry crust.
Very simple, very effective.
Start with the pastry. You’ll have your own tried and tested method of making shortcrust pastry, so use that. If not, 160g of plain flour, 120g of butter, and a good pinch of salt, pulsed together in a food processor until at the infamous ‘looks like breadcrumbs’ stage, then brought together with a scant 50ml of cold water should do it.
Rest the dough in the fridge for half an hour, then roll it out to fit a 22cm round tart tin, one of the quite deep ones.
At this point, there are two options. Either line the pastry case with foil and weigh it down with baking beans, rice, lentils, or whatever, or just bang the whole tin in the freezer for a couple of hours until it’s frozen absolutely solid.
I prefer the latter. It never fails. Just take the frozen pastry case straight out of the freezer and put it in a 200c oven without a second’s delay and bake for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until the pastry is cooked through and golden.
For the filling, thinly slice three onions, and sauté them in a frying pan with a couple of cloves of sliced garlic and a good splash of water, lid on, for about an hour. The aim is to get the onions to the point of translucent collapse, without them taking on any colour, so keep the heat as low as possible. Shake or stir the pan every now and again.
For the potato part of the pie, you need something waxy, and at this point of the year, Jersey Royals are perfect. They don’t need peeling, just slice 200g of them into chunks of just less than a centimetre square and blanch for a few minutes in salted water.
The counterpoint to the potato content is sausage meat. Only the best will do, and that means getting hold of 350g of your butcher’s finest sausages and squeezing the meat out of the skins. Fry the sausage meat off in a non-stick frying pan, breaking the chunks down into smaller pieces.
After five minutes, stir in a tablespoon of flour, and let it soak up some of the fat, before adding two or three tablespoons of tomato purée, a teaspoon (or to taste) of chilli flakes, two teaspoons of Herbs de Provence and a dozen sliced sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and stir and brown for a further five minutes, then stir in the potato.
Pile the filling into the cooked pie crust, and then spoon the cooked onion, and 100g of mascarpone cheese into little pools on top of the pie. Use a fork to artfully distribute.
Bake the pie for twenty-five minutes in a 220c oven, until the top is golden.
Serve with a green salad, and perhaps some French beans, and use the leftovers for proper lunches at work, instead of those terrible sandwiches from that Sainsbury’s Local next door to the office.
This recipe is from Dean Brettschneider’s excellent book, Pie. Get your copy now.