It’s that time again. That time where I rub together flour and butter, where I pray for no soggy bottoms and where I go against all my instincts and surround raw meat with pastry. It’s meat pie time. And not just any meat pie but hand raised meat pie. Meaning not only do I have to produce something without a soggy bottom but also something structurally sound. Oh and hopefully it tastes good too because we’re going to have to eat these things.
So meat pies, we meat again.
Do you see what I did there? Nothing like a good pun to get you in the mood for baking.
The last couple of weeks I have been kind of casual about my bakes. Gone are the days of carefully setting out pre-weighed ingredients and reading the recipe countless times in the days before I bake. No, now I just sort of dive in. Which in this case meant pulling out all the jars (and even some beer bottles) trying to find the right sized pie form all whilst I had already started my pastry. Not very organized. After much deliberation, I settled on a couple of glasses that seem to fit the bill. I wrapped them in saran wrap and went back to my pastry.
Since I had already used hot water crust pastry for the mini pork pies I was prepared for the warm squishy feeling of the dough. I was also aware of the potential for the dough to start firming up if I didn’t work quickly enough. When it came to raising the pies I gave it one shot before giving up completely. Actually, I tried it once before my husband suggested I just flip the whole thing over. So with the glasses flipped over I just had to gently suggest to the pastry that it should ooze down the sides and it kindly complied with my request.
It may be more accurate to call these hand lowered pies. It was a little tricky though because the pastry was so warm and loose that the weight of the dough was causing some tears in the sides and bottom. No problem just patched them up and put them in the fridge to chill. Because I was only making two pies this time instead of the six last time I didn’t run into any stiffening pastry drama which was a relief.
While my dough chilled I moved onto the filling, bacon, apricots and chicken. Not a combination I was familiar with but sounded good enough to me. Since the Cornish pasty incident, I have learned the importance of liberal seasoning. And this time I got to use thyme fresh from the garden. My husband likes thyme so much and uses it so frequently with chicken that the smell of thyme to me now just smells like chicken. So I threw in a ton of salt and pepper and fresh thyme from the garden.
Eventually, it was time to extract my glasses from the dough and see if I actually had a self-supporting piece of pastry. In the recipe, Paul says to put boiling water into the glass or jar to warm the pastry so it’s easier to remove. I didn’t do that. I am lazy and impatient. I basically just pulled and twisted and the dough slid down the glass pretty easily. And it stood on its own! I was a proud mom watching her baby take its first steps.
A little wobbly, as all babies are, but upright all the same! Things were going well! I layered in my filling according to the recipe, bacon, chicken apricots. And sent my babies into the oven. Ok, this analogy is getting strange. Scratch that. I put the pies into the oven.
15 minutes into baking a snuck a peak and the pies were looking a little worse for wear. The once upright pies had a definite tilt. Nothing could be done though so I let them bake. 55 minutes later I had one decidedly slanted pie and another that was going full accordion.
I know what will fix this. Meat gelatin. That’s right Paul didn’t give me an option this time I had to make the chicken jello (also never in my life would I think that I would be describing so many things as jello). I mixed up my gelatin and poured it in, and straight through.
I must admit I wasn’t too upset that the gelatin flowed right through the pies.
24 hours later it was time for judgement. We were confused about how these were to be served, hot or cold? There isn’t any instruction so I opted for cutting through the cold pie to see if I could see any remnant gelatin and then warming it up for the taste test. Well sadly, or maybe not, there was no gelatin in the pies. But there was some kind of layered action happening.
There it is, the hand raised/lowered meat pie. I think my pastry did pretty well, there were some cracks and holes where the gelatin leaked out and it might have been a bit too thick on one side and too thin on the other but it tasted good. The filling was pretty good too. It was a little hard to eat because the filling kind of fell apart but this probably would have been helped if the gelatin was inside the pie rather than on a pan in the dishwasher. And most importantly there was no soggy bottom (probably due to the superior drainage system I created). Overall, I see you meat pies, and I’m coming around.