Both my girls came back from school last week raving about the lamb pie that they had had for school lunch and asking me to make them one. So with a quiet weekend for once I decided today to make this for family lunch.
I must admit I was rather disappointed with the pastry. I usually make my own or at a push will use a good quality ready made block. I don't have good pastry hands- you need cool hands and mine are just too warm so I spend a lot of time having to stop and cool them. I have no qualms at using a good quality ready made pastry to save time (though usually will make my own since I do find it theraputic).
I have never used the ready rolled variety but a friend pointed out that sainsburys' had changed its ready made pastry range and what I thought of the ready-rolled shortcrust pastry so I thought I would use that (and it was on offer so was cheaper than making it myself). I was concerned once I saw the ingredients since it uses vegetable oil as the fat rather than butter. This is the major problem with ready made pastry (the problem actually with most ready made things). The oil is easier to use to mass produce and the ingredients used in this pastry will make it store better and last longer, but using it and the taste of it will never be as good as the butter varieties.
As soon as I unwrapped it from the box I was already downheartenend. It was very difficult to unwrap cracked and broke with each unrolling. I should have really photographed it to show what the unrolled product looked like. I tried using it as it was prepared but it barely held together so I ended up having to scrunch it altogether into a ball and rerolling (kind of defeats its purpose!) It still didn't hold as well as proper shortcrust pastry and I found the cook pastry quite tasteless and with a hard consistency.
But back to the recipe. Being by batch cooking about 500g diced lamb in a tablespoon of oil. You can season this first and dust with some flour.
Remove the browned lamb and put to oneside. Put some chopped garlic and a tablespoon of flour into the oil in the pan and cook for a minute.
Then add 1 litre warm lamb stock (you can use chicken if you don't have lamb), a tablespoon of tomato puree, a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar and a dash of worcestershire sauce.
Stir everything together and bring up to a simmer.
Put the lamb back into the pan with a couple of bay leaves and 200ml red wine.
Bring up to simmering point and then cover and simmer for about an hour.
When the hour is up you should have a nice thick gravy with very tender lamb.
Place this mix into an ovenproof dish and allow to cool. You can add some sauteed vegetables at this point (gently fried chopped shallots/onions and some root veg- carrots, baby parsnips etc). I kept the vegetables to be served alongside but they work well included in the pie.
At this point take your pastry and cut a few strips long enough to go all the way round. Wet the pie dish edge and stick on the pastry rim and then wet this pastry at the top.
Then take your rolled out pastry (make it bigger than your dish) and place it across the dish and stick it to the rim. Cut off any extra pastry around the edge.
Cut a few slits into the pastry to allow steam to escape while it is cooking. Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg (I like to use a silicone brush to do this).
Cook at 180 degrees C for 40 minutes until it is golden and the filling is bubbly.
Serve with your choice of potatoes (roast, boiled, wedges or as we did today mashed) and seasonal vegetables.
Although I wasn't impressed iwth the pastry, the filling was lovely- very thick gravy and tender lamb. The rest of the family didn't seem bothered either by the pastry (so it's just me being picky!)