Scotch pies

While I make pork pies a fair bit, I have never made scotch pies, and I had only ever eaten them once – decades ago! However, having eaten a wonderful one very recently I decided I had missed out.

My scotch pies might not be traditional in that I used some lamb gravy left over from a roast that I had frozen (I always freeze left-over gravy for popping into pies and pasties). I also added some onion and turnip to the filling: I had just picked some turnips and the last of this year’s onions from the allotment, so why not?!

And for a first go at making them, I am happy enough with them.

The pastry

The pastry is a hot water-crust pastry which is very easy to make: you simply pour the melted fat and water over the flour and mix to form a dough.

If the pastry dough is too hot once it has been made, it can slip back down the mould and pool into a thick mass, so let it cool just enough for it to hold its shape.

How to shape:

Once the pastry has cooled a little, but still pliable, you can mould these (and pork pies) up the outside of jam jars or pepper mills and the like, letting them cool down and firm, before removing them using a gentle rocking movement. Clingfilm wrapped around the jar or pepper mills ensures perfect removal, resulting in a good pastry case that is ready for filling.

The images below demonstrate this, using from some mini pork pies I made ages ago, but the idea is the same:

For shaping this time, however, I decided to bake the pies in pastry-lined ramekins: I place a few strips of greaseproof paper into each ramekin before lining the inside of the ramekins with the rolled out pastry, coming just up over the rim before adding the filling and sealing the lid on top. Foil also works well.

The greaseproof should help you lift out the pies towards the end of the cooking time, before baking them for a further 10 minutes or so to brown up the sides.

If the pies do stick, carefully run a knife around the inside of the ramekins, trying not to cut into the pastry itself, and invert onto a plate. Then invert back to the right way up and continue to bake them to brown up the sides. Don’t worry about any of the juices that come out when you invert: just spoon them back over the pies and into the holes for the final 10 minutes: the juices become sticky and brown over the pie.

Recipe: Scotch Pies – makes 6

Hot water-crust pastry:

  • 360g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 100g lard
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 160ml water
  • beaten egg for glazing

For the filling:

  • 500g lamb mince or, ideally, finely minced mutton
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • about 8 tablespoons lamb gravy
  • a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • a little salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped roughly
  • a little butter or oil

(1) Prepare the filling: gently fry the onion and turnip in a little butter or oil until softened. Put in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients, adding enough gravy to give a fairly soft but not runny mixture. Preheat the oven to 180C(fan).

(2) For the pastry: heat the lard, butter, salt, pepper and water until it just comes to the boiling point. Pour most of it over the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon for a few minutes, adding enough to give a very soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until it is pliable, bit still warm.

(3) Butter the ramekins and place strips of greaseproof inside, as in the picture above the recipe. Take about 2/3 of the pastry and roll out thinly. Cut out circles and push gently into the ramekins, going right into the bottom of the ramekins. Brush the rims with egg-wash.

(4) Spoon in the filling, coming just below the rim, and spoon over any surplus gravy. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut circles out of it for the lids. Press down to seal, or use the back of a fork. Make a hole in the centre, going just through to the filling.

(5) Brush the tops with more egg-wash and bake at 180C for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and take the pies out of the ramekins, using the greaseproof to help lift them off.  See “Easy Shaping” above.

(6) Return to the oven to bake for a further 5-10 minutes until nicely golden all around. They are at their best served hot.

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