Last weekend my better half made a jolly good pie that everyone should hear about. Lets face it, most people love a nice slice of pie, and this one is particularly scrummy. We always opt for traditional grub on a Sunday but the kids were out at a party late afternoon, meaning there wasn’t any time to nurture a roast. We needed a dinner that was relatively easy to prepare, but still ticked all of the Sunday satisfaction boxes.

This recipe comes from
Jamie Oliver’s book ‘Save with Jamie’ – it has a basic meat filling but the pastry is made with cream cheese, which makes it flakey and transforms the whole meal into something rather delicious taste-wise. Even if the word ‘pastry’ fills you with sheer horror (the thought of making it, that is), trust me when I say that anyone (even me) can turn their hand to this variety. There are a few ingredients to bind together and then it’s simply popped into the fridge to rest. The full ingredients list and cooking method can be found in Jamie’s book.

To make this delicious pie you will need (serves 6):
– 600g of beef mince
– 3 red onions (chopped)
– 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
– 1 beef stock cube
– 2 tablespoons of balsamic/red wine vinegar
– 1 teaspoon of English mustard
– olive oil to fry
– a packet of fresh thyme (approx 8 sprigs)

For the topping:
– 225g of plain flour
– 100g of unsalted butter
– a big pinch of cayenne pepper
– 100g of full fat cream cheese
– 1 large egg (beaten – to glaze only)

Method we used:
– Put all of the pastry ingredients into a food mixer (not including the egg) and blitz until it all comes together. Flour the work top.
– Tip the dough out, pat and knead (carefully not overworking it) then wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest.
– Heat a large pan on the hob, add the beef and a good lug of olive oil. Fry (breaking it all up) for around 15 minutes.
– Add the chopped onions and thyme, then cook for another 10 minutes until the onions are soft/browning.
– Stir in a heaped tablespoon of plain flour, the tomato purée, mustard and vinegar. Lastly, crumble in the stock cube and add 650ml of boiling water.
– Season and leave to simmer for around half an hour, stirring occasionally. It should start to thicken.
– Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C.
– Tip the filling into a pie dish (25cm approx) then roll out the pastry on a flour-dusted work top (slightly larger than the dish).
– Brush the edges of the dish with the egg and roll the dough around a rolling pin, then over the top of the dish. Cut away the excess pastry with a knife, pinch the circumference to seal and brush with the remaining egg on top.
– Pop into the oven to bake for 30 minutes until golden.

A bonus feature of making this meal is that if you make the pastry first, during its resting time you can prepare and cook the filling by whizzing up the mince and onions in the pan. When it’s ready, all you need to do is assemble and into the oven it goes.

We all agreed that this is a winning dish, predominantly due to the sweet and creamy elements introduced to the pastry by the cream cheese. I never would have dreamed of adding it to the mix, but it really works and jazzes up the whole thing. The meat had a familiarity for me, as it took me back to my youth when my mum used to serve me up ‘mince and onions in gravy with rice’ as an alternative to the chilli con carne with rice that the rest of the family were having (I refused to eat it as a child as I’ve always had a strong dislike for kidney beans, I used to ask her to pick them out for a time, then eventually she gave up and started making me my own little separate pot – this adversity to beans has not faded with maturity sadly!)

Pie time is always a favourite in our house, and after all, who doesn’t like to be reminded of home.