School Dinners Meat Pie

I love this pie – it can be made in advance and baked when the family arrive. It is also very economical yet everyone loves it, particularly children.  It actually reminds me of school dinners which I adored ! (school dinners of 50 years ago by the way) This pie can be frozen unbaked if required then defrosted in the fridge. I serve this pie with mashed potatoes and peas – also you will need some lovely gravy. Again I freeze left over gravy with is ideal with this pie.   These quantities will serve 12 people and I make two pies in 20cm square loose bottomed cake tins. The secret is to cut the vegetables very small.  I often make a pie for now and one for the freezer.


To make the filling

In a large casserole pan put the oil then fry the onion on a low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and potato and stir well.  Cook for a further 5-10 minutes then take off the heat.  In the meantime heat a frying pan and fry the lardons until well brown and crisp – transfer to the casserole pan.

Dry fry the mince in batches and add these to the casserole. By dry frying I mean, have the pan really hot, add no fat and add about two handfuls of mince at a time – no more or else it will boil and not fry.  The mince needs to have a brown crust before transferring to the casserole.

Add the sugar to the casserole pan then the flour and stir well, adding seasoning.

Deglaze the frying pan with the red wine and add this to the casserole. Turn off the heat.  Deglazing means pouring the wine into the hot pan and it will bubble and fizz but at the same time will take all the lovely meat particles from the bottom of the pan.

Finally add the stock and dried thyme to the casserole and give everything a good stir.  Bring to a gentle simmer then transfer to a low oven (100 degrees) or a slow cooker for 5 hours with a lid.  You can cook the meat quicker on a higher heat if you wish.  Pop your casserole into the oven at 180 degrees for 1.5 hours.

After the cooking time remove the lid. The meat filling needs to be thick and wholesome. Stir well then add the fresh parsley and grated cheese.  Allow the filling to cool completely – taste and check the seasoning.


To make the pastry :-

I use a food processor to make pastry. Place the flour and salt into the bowl with the blade attached.  Add the chilled fats which have been cubed.  Blitz for just about 10 seconds until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs then with the motor running pour the liquid in a steady stream and allow the dough to form a ball.  Remove from the machine, divide into four (or six if making a lattice top) equal pieces, pop into a plastic bag or wrap in clingfilm and chill for half an hour.

On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 piece of the pastry into a rough square shape large enough to fit the tin then bottom line one of the two tins – fill to the top with the cold meat filling then roll out a second piece and top off the pie with a pastry lid, sealing the top and bottom together by wetting the edge with a damp finger. Crimp the edges and make a few air holes in the pastry lid.  Egg wash then chill until required.  Repeat with the second pie.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees = egg wash the pies once more then bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before taking from the tin and cutting into portions and serving.


TIP: Egg washing the pastry twice gives a deeper, richer glaze to the pastry.

TIP: If you want to make a lattice top to your pie roll out two 20cm pastry squares and cut into strips as shown on the video. There is sufficient pastry in the recipe to make two latticed pies.  You will have left over pastry (freeze it) if you pop on a plain lid.

TIP: The pie filling needs to be really thick and wholesome.  If after the cooking time you appear to have a thin filling give it a good stir then pop into a high oven (200 degrees c) for 1 hour without a lid to thicken up.  Leave to go completely cold before assembling the pies.

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