There’s nothing Britain loves much more than a pie.
You just need to think of the variations (chicken, beef, even macaroni) to come to the conclusion that you can put just about anything between pastry and it will taste great. And, if you needed any further convincing, there’s even a week dedicated to it on the Great British Bake Off.
In celebration of all things pie, British Pie Week takes place from 5-10 March, where I for one, plan on making (and eating) a lot of them. You can get really creative when it comes to pie making, and as much as a good steak pie is a truly delicious thing, sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a bit. I like to experiment with different toppings and fillings as well as swap out the meat for a veggie friendly alternative. If you’re short of inspiration, here are a few ideas for how you could take your pie in a different direction.
Sweet potato topped chilli con carne pie
I’m going to level with you here, this pie came about as a result of me having left over chilli con carne and sweet potato mash. I combined the two, crossed my fingers and got lucky. This pie is so good. In my house, we like to think of it as a Mexican cottage pie. I think it’s a pretty accurate description.
For this pie you’ll need to make a batch of chilli con carne – there’s a great recipe on BBC Good Food if you haven’t made it before. You’ll also need some sweet potato mash. For this I boil some sweet potatoes until soft, add a glug of olive oil and mash them until smooth, before seasoning with salt, pepper and a pinch of cinnamon.
Once you have your chilli and you mash, ladle the chilli into an oven-proof dish before topping with a layer of mash. Bake at 200c for roughly 25 minutes and then serve.
Chicken and spinach pie with a pastry top
For this recipe I tend to use left over roast chicken – it’s a great way to use up all of that tasty meat that’s left on the carcass. To make the filling, combine half a chopped onion with the chicken, chicken stock, a little flour, milk and a bay leaf. When the sauce is ready, stir in a handful of chopped fresh spinach and season to taste.
Personally, I don’t have the time to make my own pastry, so I tend to buy it. For this recipe I use puff pastry, which you can buy in most supermarkets. Simply roll a sheet of the pastry over the top of your filling, ensuring there is enough to pinch under the edges of your pie tin. Then, using a knife, score a small cross in the centre of the pie before baking in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
Vegan puy lentil and borlotti bean pie
Pies don’t always have to contain meat. In fact, one of my favourites has no meat in it at all. To make this vegan dish, I boil some puy lentils in a combination of vegetable stock and red wine. I then combine the lentils with sautéed onion and garlic, a tin of tomatoes, borlotti beans and a good pinch of oregano.
For the topping, I mash cooked carrots and cauliflower and layer over the lentils before baking for 25 minutes. This pie is truly delicious, not to mention seriously healthy.
However you choose to celebrate pie week, I hope you enjoy everything this British culinary institution has to offer.
Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.