Gosh! Could there be anything more New Zealand than a Potato Topped Pie. Sure, many, many countries have a starch topped pie. England has the Cottage Pie and the Shepherd's Pie, France has the hachis Parmentier and probably Australia thinks it has the Potato Topped Pie - but we Kiwis know better. But do any of these involve the all the magical ingredients of crisp pastry, savoury mince and creamy mashed potato all conveniently packaged in a handheld device?! No! Although Australia probably thinks it does . . .
Pies are such a New Zealand institution. There are so many occasions that a pie fits the bill : driving from Wellington to Auckland, Christchurch to Dunedin; a morning after a fine night out; a fine night out ; lunchtime; morning tea; at a rugby game; not at a rugby game; a cold and frosty morning; and the all encompassing student days - possibly replaced in our more responsible days with Sunday evening.
Pies are also seasonal, hot and comforting. They can be made from mince and cheese, just mince, possibly not just cheese (but once again I refer you to student days). They are freezable and you can make them in their entirety or the individual components ahead of time. The best time of year for a hot pie is of course winter, the perfect excuse to indulge in the pastry-potato-meat combination.
Potato Topped Pies
150g Plain Flour
A Pinch of Salt
85g Unsalted Butter, chilled, cubed
Iced water to bind, approximately 4 tablespoons
2 stalks of celery
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of butter
500g beef mince
1 tablespoon of plain flour
1 cup of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Fish sauce to taste, approximately 1 tablespoon
White and Black Pepper
500g agria (or other floury) potatoes, peeled and cut up
Butter, approximately 25g or as much as you like!
Milk, approximately half a cup of full fat
Grated cheese, optional
Make the pastry by mixing the salt and flour then tossing the cubes of butter through and putting in the fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes. Then either rub the butter into the flour by hand or in several short bursts in the food processor. Add enough water to bind it into a ball then chill, well wrapped, for at least 30 minutes, or while you make the filling.
Make the filling by either chopping the celery, onion, carrot and garlic finely by hand or in a food processor. Sauté in butter until soft then add the mince, browning it well and breaking up the lumps with your utensil. Stir in the flour, mixing well, then add the chicken stock, bay leaf and the fish sauce. Bring to a good simmer then turn down to bubble away gently and come together while you make the topping. Leave the rest of the seasoning until you are ready to assemble.
Roll out the now chilled pastry and line 4 individual pie dishes (don't stretch the dough!) then return to the fridge while you make the topping.
Cook the potatoes then mash very well (we are looking for a fine mash, no lumps. Many a potato topped pie has been ruined with lumpy mash). Beat in the butter and milk to make a fairly loose mash then season to taste.
Check the seasoning of the filling and take off the heat.
At this point all the components can be chilled until you are ready to assemble and cook the pies.
When you are ready to cook, preheat your oven to 190°C and place a tray in the oven on which to stand the pies.
Fill your pastry shells three-quarter full with filling then arrange the potato on top as fashionably and as high as you dare. It helps stop the filling being pushed up over the pastry edge if you start with an edge of potato then fill in the middle and then pile it up on top. Sprinkle with grated cheese if you like then bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is starting to bubble and the top is golden and you just can't wait any longer.
It is up to you if you have peas, mushy peas or a nice green salad before, during or after your fabulous kiwi pie!
P.S. This post is an entry for the Hunt for New Zealand's Top Food Blogger with Rick Stein.