Sometimes, when I ask my partner if there’s anything he fancies for dinner, I get the simple, concise, and yet fascinatingly unhelpful response “Pie!”
Fair play to the man, pie is bloody wonderful. But it does often lead to me just taking whatever’s in the fridge and hiding it under pastry.
This one comes out of something I knocked up quickly after work one evening, and with a couple of tweaks it was a keeper.
The Lincolnshire sausages have a bit of background spice to them, and with a little extra herb and pepper they go wonderfully with the sweet potatoes.
If you don’t make the pastry, you can have this done in about an hour, too, and at least half of that is oven time.
Granted, I do make the pastry. But I’m a fussy wee git. If you’re going to make it too, I’d advise going rich and flaky. Do that thing where you get the flour and butter only just worked together before you add water, mixing carefully so there are still little buttery outcrops. That way, you can chill it right down then knead it. This streaks butter through into little layers, making it flaky and exciting.
- Lincolnshire sausages, 350-400g
- Sweet potato, 350-400g
- Onion, 1 large
- Flour 1.5tbsp
- Stock (chicken or vegetable, but light), 250ml
- Sage, 3 leaves (fresh)
- Thyme, hefty pinch
- Black pepper, equally hefty grind
- Shortcrust pastry, about 350g
This ought to serve 4 generously. I like to add parsley to the pastry mix, and make the enriched kind with an egg yolk. The sausages don’t have to be Lincolnshire, but I regard them as the definitive interesting British sausage. Cumberland works, too.
Make the pastry if you’re making it. Otherwise, roll some out to a few millimetres thickness, keeping about a third for the lid. Line a greased tin with it, and shove it in the fridge.
Peel the sweet potato, cut it into 2cm (ish) dice, and toss it in oil and black pepper. Put this in the oven for around 25 mins or until it softens and colours at the edges. Turn it carefully around half way through.
Remove it when it’s done, and leave it to one side until you need it.
While the potato is cooking, prepare the rest of the filling. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Skin the sausages, and separate each out into little balls. Finely shred the sage leaves.
Fry the onion on a medium heat for around 7 minutes, until it’s softened. Raise the heat slightly, and add the sausage balls. Fry for another 7 minutes or so, until the sausage is cooked and coloured a little. You’ll need to stir this a bit to stop it clumping together.
Add the sage, thyme, and a bit more black pepper, continuing to stir for a minute or so, and then add the flour. Again, keep it moving so it doesn’t burn, and get it good and worked through. A couple of minutes should do it.
Now add the liquid and mix it all together as it reduces and forms a thick sauce. Add the sweet potato, and maybe a splash of water if it’s dried up a lot. We’re shooting for not much sauce, but not entirely dry. The finished thing should be moist but not at all sloppy.
Fill the pastry-lined pie tin with this mix. Moisten the pastry edges and press the lid on top, trimming any excess. Do a pie, basically. A little hole in the lid helps for letting steam out. Brush it with beaten egg if you fancy a glaze, and bake at 180c for 35-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
The finished thing has a sweetness to it that the herbs and pepper work with nicely. It’s dense but not overly heavy and dry enough to just about serve cold if you really wanted to. It’s best not long out of the oven though.
I’d put it with a sturdy but not overpowering beer like a Märzen. A hefty white wine would work, too. If you want some acid through the sweetness, consider crumbling Wensleydale on top before you put the lid on.
On the subject of pie, you probably need a copy of Angela Boggiano’s book of the same name. It’s pretty damn good.