Who ate all the pies (I did)

Happy British Pie Week! We are selling this fantastic meat pie all week – £7.95 each.

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Everyone has a happy place. You close your eyes and in an instant you’re whisked back to a time and place in your life when you were happy, really happy, even if you took it for granted at the time and even if you are largely happy now. My happy place is a pokey restaurant in a horrible part of a not particularly nice town, named after a fictional serial killer of yore.

I’m talking, of course, about Hannibal the Cannibal’s Burrito Bar in Hull where for only one shiny new pound you can feast on liver and fava bean burritos all washed down with a nice Chianti. Delicious.

OK, that’s not true, although if any Shoreditch-hipster street food aficionados are reading this, I’ve trademarked the concept. I am in fact talking about Sweeney & Todd Pie Shop in Reading, where in the mid-nineties I was allegedly an English Literature student and definitely a Sweeney Todd’s pie eater. You might find this hard to believe but 20 years ago, Reading did not have the reputation as the dynamic culinary Mecca that it has since become. A good pie in 1996 was about as good as it got. To be honest I’m not entirely sure that they were ‘good’ pies but that couldn’t be less relevant.

We all went together, all the time – a big group of friends, probably a little bit ‘relaxed’ on Bulgarian country red wine and awash with the confidence (idiocy) of youth. You cram into a booth and peruse the ridiculously long menu and order pies. Lots of pies. I only ever ordered poorly when I tried to show off (yep- I know) and took on the Hare and Cherry special. Man alive, the first waft after breaking the pastry lid was like the worst bunny graveyard wrapped in a rancid farmyard and topped off with corruption and death. I didn’t like it very much and quickly and quietly ordered a Chicken and Ham.

Pies make people happy, you share them and you cook them for people you love, they are inherently warming, hearty and homely. They whisk us away to childhood idylls and student inebriation with a crack of pastry and waft of savoury steam.

To celebrate National Pie Week at Brompton Food Market we have come up with a beef pie to end all beef pies. Using, for my money the three most flavourful parts of a cow –

the cheeks, the ribs and the tail IMG_5021

braised for 7 hours until meltingly soft and slipping from the bone

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strain the liquor and reduce with some softened onions and carrots…….

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Then add back to the shredded meat. Line some pie dishes with delicious suet enriched pastry and fill with the meaty mixture

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Egg yolk wash and bake for half an hour!

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