If you are of a certain age, you probably ate lots of corned beef when you were growing up. Tinned or sliced, this mystery meat is salty and fatty, with a non-meat texture. For a food snob like me, I should avoid it like the plague, but I have very fond memories of corned beef and tomato ketchup sandwiches for packed lunch (or corned beef and cucumber which was the healthier option offered up by my mum!) … in fact I could eat one right now!
I hadn’t been aware that corned beef was such a popular dish in Wales, featuring in many recipes but most popularly as corned beef pie, pasty or corned beef rissoles. You are looking at a combination of cheap ingredients combined to bulk out a dinner: corned beef, onions, potatoes and pastry. Don’t be put off though, the end result is truly delicious, and friends at my recent 40th birthday party were converted by the tastiness of the pie.
Lisa from Lovely Appetite recently posted her own version of a corned beef pie, which made me realise how different everyone’s version can be. I didn’t follow a recipe the first time I made mine – I developed it based on Andrew’s preferences and what I imagined would taste nice. That makes it different to the one we eat in Wales (from Cyril’s the butcher!) but in my view better!
I make my own shortcrust pastry for the pie, but I am tempted to give this hot water crust pastry a go sometime as I think it would be delicious. I have also used Jusrol shortcrust if I am feeling lazy – you need a 500g slab to top and bottom a 21cm pie dish, which is what I happen to use (as it’s the only loose-bottomed dish I have).
400g plain flour to 200g butter mixed together with a little salt made more than enough pastry for my dish, so I froze the rest for a rainy day when cheese straws or something similar are needed.
While the pastry is resting in the fridge, you can make the filling by cubing a couple of medium sized potatoes (around 400g). I don’t bother peeling the potatoes as I am lazy, and just boil them in salted water until tender (around 10 minutes should do it, as each chunk is around the size of a sugar cube).
While the potatoes drain, gently fry a chopped onion in a little oil. I use the same pan as I used for the potatoes to save washing up.
Once the onion has softened, add the boiled potatoes back into the pan along with the cubed corned beef (maybe minus one cube that you’ve eaten), and give the mixture a stir. No salt or pepper is needed in my view, but feel free to season with pepper (corned beef is salted enough) if that’s to your taste.
For me (and Andrew) the most important thing is to make sure you don’t end up with a mushy filling – we like to see and eat distinct pieces of meat, potato and onion. Again, everyone is different, and Cyril the butcher mashes everything together … Andrew’s mum likes to add carrots. Go with what you prefer, but try my way first as it’s the best ;).
I lightly oil my pie dish and then lay pastry onto the bottom and sides. You should wait for your filling to go cold before adding it to the pastry dish, but usually I don’t bother – as long as you are quick then the pastry probably won’t melt, so be efficient.
Add your pie filling, then top your pie with another disc of pastry. I don’t bother sealing the pastry with eggwash, water or milk, I just crimp it and bung the pie in the oven (if you do have some eggwash around then brush the top of the pie as it does look nicer with a lovely golden glaze, but it’s not essential).
I bake my pie at 190 degrees fan for around 45 minutes. You only need the pastry to cook as your filling is already cooked, but the last thing you need is a soggy bottom!
Once baked, I often leave the pie to go cold and then remove it from the dish and slice it, but this time we had the pie for Sunday lunch with green beans so I served it warm and it was also delicious.