Pass the pie


I am queen of the leftovers. Following last year’s experiment of living on World War II rations, I’ve become terrified of throwing anything edible away. This is A Good Thing and we should all be terrified of waste: in the west, we throw away enough food each year to eradicate food shortages in the whole of Africa. To us, food is a delicious but disposable plaything. To a truly terrifying number of people in the world, food is something you hope your children will have this week.

The waste paranoia is also helpful because we potentially generate a lot of it. The ball-and-chain is makes a specific point of not wanting to know what goes on in abattoirs. I do know and I know very well. He’s a meat-eater. I’ve been a vegetarian since c1989.

This means each meal I cook is really two-meals-with-a-lot-in-common. There’s very little I can’t produce a vegetarian-main-item replacement for his meat-main-item, but our meals can diverge quite considerably at times. Add to that the habit of the supermarkets of not selling logically sized portions of ingredients (you can get a fat-laden ready meal for one, but try getting a single portion of mince and a small bag of old potatoes) and you have a recipe for there being too much in each meal to eat in one day.

As long as you’re creative, and I try to be, serving the same meal for three days running isn’t as dull as it sounds. Take my pie (please!): third day, third different meal.

I had to make two pies, one with vegemince and one with minced-up cow anus. Any pie you make is rarely going to be small enough for one sitting. So this is day three of the two pies.

The first day was the pie served with roast vegetables. The second was the pie with chipshop chips, The third, today, is pie and mash. The only thing they really have in common is the lashings of gravy, and everyone loves gravy so it doesn’t count.

The roast veg is a speciality of my mum’s that I’ve imported. Take virtually any veg you’ve got laying about, plus a good handful of mushrooms, cut them up large, put them in a baking tray and add a glug of oil, salt, pepper, Maggi and/or Aromat if you can get it (curse you, Morrisons) and some mixed herbs and bake in a medium oven for 20 minutes. Reserve the leftover juices at the bottom (add them to your instant gravy and pretend you made the gravy from scratch – nobody will ever doubt you). Courgettes, tomatoes, celery, peppers – all good roasted.

I don’t need to tell you how wonderful chipshop chips in gravy are.

For the mash, a good potato, peeled and boiled, drain, add a stick of garlic butter, add freshly grated nutmeg if you like, add some double cream if you’re feeling adventurous, and mash well.

Now for the pie itself.

Chop an onion and fry it off until soft. Add the mince and fry that off until brown (no need with vegemince). Add gravy granules or powder to soak up the fat. Add Guinness or Riggwelter to dilute the gravy granules. Leave it to simmer. Peel and boil some potatoes. Line a pie tin with bought pastry.

Yeah, I know, but I make terrible, terrible pastry, heavy, glutenous crap pastry. So just buy the ready-rolled chilled stuff.

Line a pie tin with pastry. Take the parboiled potatoes off the heat and let them cool (or cool them under the tap). Put a layer of mince on the bottom. Slice a potato and layer it over the mince. Keep doing this until the pie dish is full of mince and potato layers. Finish with a mince layer. Top the pie with the remaining pastry (if there’s not enough, cheat like I did and make a lattice pie, coz you were always going to do that).

Brush the top with milk, put the pie in the oven and cook on a medium heat for about half an hour. It’s done when the pie is golden on top.

To reheat the leftovers the next day, cover the pie with foil and put it back in a medium oven for half an hour again.

I’m telling you all this, by the way, because I’m experimenting, using my Apple wireless keyboard attached to my iPhone, ready for my holiday in Italy in September, where I intend to blog you all rigid from Turin for a week. So now you know.

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