It’s British Pie Week, an event which cannot go unmarked in Mrs Portly’s Kitchen. So I’m going to give you a pie recipe every day from Monday to Friday this week and I’m starting with an old-fashioned family favourite.
There are fancier pies, it’s true, but when it comes to classic comfort food few things beat a good sausage pie. As with its close relative, the sausage plait, it helps to use good quality bangers rather than the squishy pink things. Add some soft golden onions and a few herbs and you’re good to go.
You can use puff or shortcrust pastry for this. I use ready-rolled puff, which meant I could have the pie made and on the table in a little over an hour. Get a bit fancy with the pastry trimmings and you’ll have folks ooh-ing and aah-ing like nobody’s business.
8 good quality pork sausages (about 450g)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1-2 sticks of celery (optional), finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
3-4 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped from stems
1 tspn dried sage or 5-6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly round black pepper
2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry (you won’t need quite all of it)
1 egg, lightly beaten with a very small splash of water, to glaze
Fry the onion and celery (if using) in a little oil until soft and golden. Set aside to cool while you skin the sausages and put the meat in a big bowl.
Cut out a circle of pastry to line a shallow pie dish of approx 22cm, rolling it a little thinner if necessary and leaving a 1cm overhang. Cut another circle for the lid, again allowing for an overhang. Place both in the fridge and using any pastry offcuts, cut out decorations for the pie topping. I used a teardrop cutter to make leaves.
When the onions have cooled, stir them into the meat along with the herbs, mixing well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Place the filling in the pie dish, pressing it down lightly. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash and place the lid on top, trimming the edges and crimping to seal. Cut a cross in the middle to let the steam out. Brush the pie with egg wash, add your pastry decorations and egg wash those too.
Place the pie on the pre-heated baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180c/350F/Gas Mark 4 and cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden. If the edges are cooking too fast, cover them with some tin foil.
I find it impossible to crimp foil round the edges so that it stays on without damaging the pastry. I use a big piece which sits over the whole pie, with a hole cut out in the middle to let the centre carry on cooking, while protecting the edges.
Allow the pie to cool for 10 minutes before eating. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of it sliced up, as it smelled so good we tucked straight in.