Friday, July 13, 2007
Pies and not smoking.
Now and then - probably every couple of months - a pack of something frosted and mysterious emerges from the freezer. Pheasant, partridge or rabbit perhaps. We look at it from all angles, this unprepossessing lump of frozen flesh - and inevitably decide: 'Pie? We'll make a pie.'
Not just any old pie though: a hot-water crust pie, stuffed with spicy pork, game, fruit and nuts.
Not a true raised pie - this one's made in a tin lined with the soft warm pastry, stuffed with meat and then, when cooked, topped up with stock which jellies on cooling. With tomato chutney or pickle and salad leaves from the garden it will be a tasty lunch.
The game sits defrosting on the side and Alan is sent hunting in Welshpool for the other meaty ingredients: belly pork and bacon. If he stalks the butcher on a Wednesday, pigs' trotters - the basis of a gelatinous stock - can be had for free.
Into a pastry case goes minced and seasoned meat - layered with strips of game and apricots or prunes, hazelnuts or pistachios. Moisten the edge, put the lid on and crimp neatly. Make a neat hole in the top to let the steam out. Reach for cigarette packet..........
The hole in the top is kept open by inserting a tube of thin card - and when I first made a pie manymanymany years ago, a handy fag packet made the perfect 'bristol' (for that is the name given to this hole-keeper-opener). A smoker no longer, I still cast around for that perfect piece of card - the Silk Cut carton - which is no longer in my gift. Regretfully I substitute something snipped from the recycling and bung all into the oven.
Probably that's the only thing I miss about smoking....
My reference to 'bristols' comes from Jane Grigson's 'Good Things' - an excellent book from many points of view. So good that the dog ate it. I must get another copy asap.