The whole pie concept is a fabulously easy yet effective way of adding whole new dimensions to the foods you eat and introducing variety to meal time menus with the absolute minimum of effort. Fed up preparing and eating the same old beef stew on a weekly basis? Make it, cool it and fashion it in to a pie. Maybe you have leftover stew you intend re-heating for dinner the following evening? Instead of repeating yourself, make the leftovers in to a pie.
There are few limits to what you can achieve in this way and a whole lot of kitchen fun can be had inventing new pie fillings and ways to assemble your pie, not to mention the different types of pastry which can be employed. You could even get the family involved and see who can come up with the most adventurous pie filling idea. Sneak a few vegetables in there and it can be a great way to get kids to eat what would otherwise be left on the side of a plate. This specific recipe alone could be varied in any number of ways and even changing the spice used would alter the flavor considerably.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 1 pound pork shoulder meat
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 large garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons Mexican fajitas spice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pint fresh chicken stock
- Small pack (4 ounces) mixed sliced bell peppers
- 4 pineapple rings, canned in own juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
- 1/2 pound puff pastry
- Flour for rolling out pastry
- 1 small egg
- Generous handful of snow or snap peas (mangetout)
- 12 baby corn ears
Dice the shoulder of pork in to approximately one inch chunks. Pour the vegetable oil in to a large stew pot and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the pork and stir it around in the oil with a wooden spoon for two or three minutes until all the pieces are evenly browned and sealed.
When the pork is browned, use a slotted spoon to temporarily remove it from the pan to a small bowl or deep plate.
Peel the onion and cut it in half down through the center. Lay each half flat on your board and slice across the way, fairly thinly. Peel the garlic clove and thinly slice. Add the onion, the garlic and the fajitas spice to the oil in the pan. Season with salt and pepper and saute for a minute or so until the onion is just starting to soften.
Return the pork to the pan and pour in the chicken stock. Turn up the heat until the stock reaches a moderate simmer. Cover the pan and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer for two hours, checking every so often to ensure the liquid level remains sufficient. Provided you achieve a low enough simmer, you shouldn't have a problem but add a little bit of boiling water if absolutely necessary.
When the cooking time is up, check that the pork is tender. Chop each pineapple ring in to six equal sized pieces. Add the pepper slices, pineapple chunks and pineapple canning juice to the stew and stir well.
Add the cilantro and stir again. Turn the heat off, cover the pot and allow to cool completely. At this stage, you could easily refrigerate the cooled stew overnight to prepare the pie proper the following evening.
Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. A slotted spoon should be used to transfer the stew solids to a ten inch by seven inch and one and a half inch deep pie dish. Spoon in enough of the stock to just about half cover the solids - too little and the filling will dry out in the oven, too much and it will cause the pastry to become soggy.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangle just slightly larger than the pie dish. Lift the pastry on to the pie dish.
Crimp the pastry around the edges of the dish and trim off the excess with a very sharp knife. Break the egg in to a small bowl and beat with a fork just to combine. Take a pastry brush and glaze the pastry all over, paying particular attention to the folds of the crimps. Cut a steam vent in the center of the pie and lift the dish on to a large, deep roasting tray which will contain any leakages during cooking. Cook in the hot oven for thirty to thirty-five minutes until the pastry is risen and golden.
Take the pie from the oven and sit aside to rest for fifteen minutes.
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add only the corn initially and simmer for five minutes. After this time, add the snow peas and simmer for a further five minutes. Drain well at your sink through a colander.
Cut the pie pastry in half across the way and lift one half over the other as shown.
Plate the revealed half of the pie filling with a slotted spoon.
Lift the freed half of pastry on to the plated filling and add the other half of the pie in the same way to a second serving plate.
Divide the corn ears and snow peas evenly between the plates and serve immediately.