The British Really Know How To Make Pies

Months ago we did a little bit of preaching, under the guise of a helpful post. We harped on the need to be be well prepared for any holiday dinners, starting with knowing exactly what you’re going to cook and making sure you have all the ingredients in hand, especially the difficult-to-find ones that might need to be ordered online.

And yet, we haven’t followed our own advice. With days to go until Christmas, aside from ordering a goose and getting a Christmas tree, we have done nothing to prepare for Thursday’s dinner. Nothing at all.

Even though it’s just going to be the two of us this Christmas, we certainly want to make sure our dinner goes without a hitch. Not solely because we enjoy cooking–and eating–but also since if we mess up our dinner, we are going to have a hard time finding a way to feed ourselves. As expected, none of the stores near us will be open, and since even public transport is down on the 25th, we can’t even take the tube to hunt down a missing ingredient.

So this morning we decided to get our act together and make a plan, starting with deciding on our menu. This is also our first time making goose so we needed to make sure we know the recipe inside out and decide on any tweaks we’re going to make, for example adding sausage to the chestnut stuffing. Then we needed to evaluate how much oven space we’ll have left and work out what other sides we have space for and what can be made in advance, like soup.

And we don’t just need to think about Christmas Day, but also what we’re eating on Wednesday evening. Pubs in our neighborhood will be closing early so we’re stocking up on wine and planning to spend the evening listening to music next to the tree. What’s more Christmassy than that?

One dish that we’ve been meaning to make again is Pâté de Campagne. We’ve made it before and it turned out well, and is a great dish to enjoy with some crusty bread. And it’s a great excuse to use the terrine mold that has been gathering dust in our cupboard. Well, not really gathering dust since we store it in its box, but it’s certainly been underused in the past months.

The recipe calls for chicken livers and we haven’t had much luck finding them in the past. The only place that we know stocks them is a Waitrose a couple of miles away and not easily accessible by tube. But we decided to give Borough Market a shot and were pleasantly surprised to find chicken livers at one of the stalls. Unfortunately we seem to have lost the receipt and don’t remember the name, so we’ll update this entry when we go back and check out the name.

Since the terrine needs to sit for a couple of days to allow for the flavors to merge, we knew we needed to do quite a bit of cooking today and wanted to keep the rest of food-related activities minimal. So when we stopped by The Ginger Pig, which has become our go-to butcher, for the rest of the terrine ingredients, we picked up a couple of pies — beef bourguignon and steak, stilton, and onion.

If you’ve never had a well made English pie, you’re missing out and should rectify the situation with immediate effect. But it’s important to look for good pies, ones that don’t only get the filling right, but are encased in crusty pastry that doesn’t turn soggy when heated. We’ve purchased pies from The Ginger Pig, both the one in Borough Market as well as the one at Greensmiths, before and haven’t been disappointed.

Today was no exception. We put the pies in a 180-degree (Celsius) oven for 30 minutes while we finished our terrine and couldn’t wait to chow once we were ready. We can’t wait to go back for more!

Steak and stilton pie

Steak and stilton pie

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