3 CLASSIC PIES

Having lived in France for the best part of a decade, I recently realised just how much I miss an old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, homemade pie. Of course, the French are master pastry makers (think tartes, tortes and gallettes, and you’ve only just scratched the surface), but growing up, a pie always made my Sunday (or any other day) - and nothing beats it on one of those nostalgic baking days. Although I won’t deny having eaten a whole pie by myself (admittedly over two days), it’s get-together food. Just as you shouldn’t keep a pie to yourself, I feel the same way about pie recipes. They’re supposed to be shared and swapped, so I’ve put together a collection of six of my favourite pies, three of which you’ll find in Volume 3 of JAN the Journal. For the other three, all you need to do is scroll down…

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KAROO LAMB CURRY PIE

time: 3 ½ hours / serves: 4

Imagine closing your eyes. Then, someone says the word “curry”. What comes to mind? It could be anything from bobotie to butter chicken, but think of what you have with it. It’s rice, isn’t it? It almost always is. The thing with curry is that it’s just as good in a pie. And this particular lamb curry pie – complete with sambal and a heady glass of red wine – is my go-to Karoo comfort in winter.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 30 ml olive oil

  • 1 kg lamb knuckles

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 10 ml fennel seeds

  • 10 ml dried chilli flakes

  • 10 ml ground cumin

  • 2 ml ground ginger

  • 15 ml ground coriander

  • 3 ml ground cinnamon

  • 15 ml garam masala

  • 10 ml turmeric

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 x 400 ml coconut milk

  • 250 ml boiling water

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 30 – 45 ml chutney

  • 1 x 400 g puff pastry

  • 1 egg, beaten

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Start by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan. Then, add the lamb knuckles and fry until the meat has browned, at which point you can add the onion and garlic, frying until soft.

  2. Add the fennel seeds, chilli, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, masala and turmeric, making sure to mix all the herbs and spices well with the meat. Fry for at least 5 minutes.

  3. Add the lemon juice, tomatoes, coconut milk and water. Season with salt and pepper and cover the saucepan with a lid. Place it in the oven for at least 2½ hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat drops off the bone. If the meat dries out, just add some more water.

  4. Remove the bones and break the meat into smaller pieces with a fork. Add the chutney and mix well. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature and spoon it all into an oven dish.

  5. Reheat your oven to 180 °C. Cover the filling with the puff pastry and brush the surface with the beaten egg. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.


A TANGY TIP

Once it has cooled, taste your filling. If you want to add more chutney, don’t hold back. A confident dollop of Mrs. Ball’s takes these pies from good to great!


STEAK AND MUSHROOM PIE WITH SOUR CREAM PASTRY

TIME: 3 – 4 hours / serves: 6

Let this former Spur waiter tell you a secret: any steakhouse that fails to serve some combination of beef and mushroom is not to be trusted. This pie is my homage to that most classic combo. Although I use rump in this version, sirloin or rib eye will work just as well. Once or twice, I have crossed paths with someone who doesn’t like mushrooms – strange, but true. If you qualify as a fungi-phobic individual, just replace the mushrooms with bacon. The extra fat will make the pie richer, but bursting with flavour!

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INGREDIENTS

for the filling

  • 700 g rump steak

  • cake flour

  • 60 ml olive oil

  • 1 carrot, cleaned and sliced

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 70 g tomato paste

  • 500 ml beef stock

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the sour cream pastry

  • 280 g (500 ml) cake flour

  • 230 g (250 ml) soft butter, diced

  • 125 ml sour cream

METHOD

for the filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 °C. Cut the steak into bite-sized chunks. Cover the steak pieces with flour and shake off any excess flour.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the steak – not all at once – until brown, keeping the cooked steak to one side. Add the carrot and onion to the same saucepan and fry for about 5 minutes. Then add the steak to the vegetables.

  3. Add the garlic, tomato paste, beef stock and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and close the saucepan with a lid. Place it in the oven for at least 3 hours. The meat must melt in your mouth. When it gets too dry, just add water. Once you are happy with your meat, take it out and let it cool. Then spoon it into an oven dish and make the pastry.

for the pastry and baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until a dough has formed. This is a soft dough, so embrace its consistency.

  2. Spoon the dough onto a floured surface and press it flat with your hands. Carefully place it on top of the filling, but don’t beat yourself up if it breaks. Once your filling is covered with the dough, brush it with the beaten egg, then put it in the oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.


SMOOR SNOEK PIES IN PHYLLO PASTRY

TIME: 1 hour 20 minutes / makes: 8 pies

Traditionally, smoor snoek was made from leftover braaied snoek, but today it’s a dish in its own right. Smoor is the Afrikaans word for braise, so snoek that’s been smoored has already been cooked by the time it gets braised. This may seem rather complicated, a bit like refried beans, but it boils down to some seriously delicious fish. The addition of potatoes, braised onions and tomatoes was originally intended to stretch the meal further; when turning this Cape coastal classic into a pie. But I omitted the potato, as the pastry is a more than worthy substitute. There’s one thing I can say for sure: you’re not likely to have any leftovers this time around!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butterflied snoek

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 100 g (110 ml) butter, diced

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 30 ml butter

  • 2 onions, cut in half and sliced

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, diced

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

  • 15 g parsley, finely chopped

  • 150 g (160 ml) butter, melted

  • 8 sheets of phyllo pastry

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Line a baking tray with foil, then place the fish (skin side down) on the baking tray. Drizzle with lemon juice and place the butter evenly on top. Season with salt and pepper before putting it in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Then remove the fish and let it cool before flaking the meat off the bones. Make sure you remove all the fish bones to avoid any nasty surprises.

  2. Melt 30 ml of butter in a saucepan and add the onions, frying them until soft and translucent. After that, add the tomatoes and garlic and fry until the tomatoes turn soft.

  3. Add this mixture to the flaked fish and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Add the chopped parsley and mix thoroughly.

  4. Roll one sheet of phyllo pastry out onto your work surface and brush it with the melted butter. Then fold it in half, lengthwise. Give it another buttery brush. Spoon the filling onto the centre of the pastry and fold into parcels before brushing the parcels with some more melted butter and placing them on a baking tray. Repeat this process with the rest of the filling and phyllo pastry sheets.

  5. Place the parcels in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until crisp and golden brown. 


PRACTICAL PHYLLOSOPHY

When working with phyllo pastry, keep the pastry covered with a damp tea cloth. This will prevent it from drying out and flaking into pieces.


GET MORE OF MY FAVOURITE PIE RECIPES IN THE NEXT JOURNAL…