Sunday, 27 February 2011

Lamb and Turnip Pie, Chips and Beans

There are principally two types of savoury pie which are widely enjoyed here in Scotland. There is firstly the Scotch pie, a pie made from minced/ground lamb or mutton and encased in hot water pastry. Scotch pies are the staple half-time snack at football (soccer) matches, or are frequently eaten at home with chips and baked beans in tomato sauce. There is secondly the steak pie, comprised of stewing steak and link sausage, covered by puff pastry. I suddenly came up with the idea a few days back of preparing a fusion of the two ideas and the result is this dish: my alternative pie, chips and beans. Adding turnip was a last minute decision, to incorporate extra colour and texture and I was happy with the way it fitted in.

I have featured the way in which I make chips on this blog many times, a method based on that first suggested by the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. Despite being delighted with the results of this method of chip preparation, this does not mean I am not forever looking to improve on it. One of the biggest factors to consider when making good chips is the type of potato which you use. When I saw these Innovator potatoes in my local Morrison's and the claim on the bag that they are, "Excellent," for making homemade chips, I had to give them a try.

Ingredients for Two People

1/2lb diced leg of lamb
1/4 small Swede (yellow) turnip
1/2lb puff pastry
1 pint fresh chicken stock (UK pint, ie 20 fl oz)
2 large Innovator potatoes
2oz small green beans
1 small beaten egg for glazing
Salt and pepper


The potatoes should be peeled, sliced and chopped in to chips. Add them to a large pot of cold water and put on to a high heat. When the water boils, reduce the heat and allow the chips to simmer for five minutes only. Drain them carefully through a colander and put them in to a bowl of cold water for a few minutes to cool. Drain them again and lay them in a single layer in a Tupperware dish. When completely cool, refrigerate for a minimum of half an hour.

The lamb should be quickly browned in a dry pot, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. The chicken stock should be added and brought to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper and continue to simmer very gently for forty-five minutes. After this time, cover the pot and set aside to cool.

The chips are going to be deep fried twice. When they are removed from the refrigerator the first time, it is necessary to carefully pat them dry on a clean tea towel. They should then be placed in a deep frier at a moderate heat for five to six minutes, until they only just begin to colour. Remove them, drain them on kitchen paper and allow them to cool. They then go back in to the Tupperware/plastic container and the refrgerator for a further half hour.

Peel the turnip/Swede and chop it to a 1" dice. Mix it with the cooled lamb and stock and add the lot to a 10" x 7" pie dish. Roll out the pastry on a dry, floured surface until it is large enough to cover the dish with about a 1" border all the way round. Lay the pastry carefully on top of the pie dish and tuck/crimp it around the edges. Glaze with the beaten egg and do not forget to make a "+" in the centre, each arm of which should be about 1" in length. This allows the steam to escape during cooking. Place in to a preheated oven (375F/190C/Gas Mark 5) for around forty minutes, until the pastry is beautifully risen and golden.

When the lamb and turnip pie is ready, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool a little while the chips are finished and beans prepared. This allows the lamb to rest slightly.

The chips should now be fried for the second time, at a slightly higher heat, until beautifully crisp and golden. This will take anything from five to seven minutes. When the chips are in the frier, the beans should be added to a pot of boiling, slightly salted water. The chips should again be drained on clean kitchen paper and the beans drained through a colander. The pie should be divided between two plates and the meal can now be served.

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