Monday, February 1, 2010

B for Blighty

I'm eating my way around the world again!
Where to next? Barbados? Belize? Brazil? How about Britain? I was wandering around Asda on Sunday afternoon when I was struck by an overwhelming desire for pie. It was four-thirty at that point, so I knew I was out of time for getting anything made for that night, but it got me to thinking about one of the most famous working class dishes to come from old London Town - Pie and mash with parsley liquor. You traditionally eat this in one of the many Pie and Mash Shops dotted through South and East London, or if you like, you can plump for stewed eels with chilli vinegar. (I know, I know... )
The pie and mash are pretty self-explanatory - the pie is traditionally a minced beef pie though you can now get vegetarian pies too, the mash is mashed potato - but the real authentic touch is the liquor. The base for the liquor is usually the water held back from stewing the aforementioned eels. (Sorry... I just threw up in my mouth a little there.) It's used to make a clear gravy made green by the addition of copious amounts of fresh parsley. There's no describing it really, you'd just better see for yourselves.

There. Pretty green, right? It divides cockney pie-lovers in the same way marmite/vegemite divides the rest of us - you either love it or hate it. The addition of a tablespoon of malt vinegar to the recipe is optional, but offers a bit of tartness to take the stodgy edge off all that carb-laden goodness. Initially I was like 'Oh! I'd better make a mock mince pie!' But then I remembered my dad waxing lyrical about some amazing spicy bean pasties he'd had from some shop in Manchester and my craving for pie became a craving for spicy bean and cheezly pie. So, that's what I did. I used pre-rolled puff pastry to make my pie-cases and lids. I filled my pie with cajun-style baked beans and grated cheezly. The recipe is so simple it's insulting, but I'm going to list it anyway!

PIE (enough to fill 6 individual pie cases)

Pre-rolled sheet of puff pastry
1 tbsp cooking oil - I used carotino
1 large onion, finely diced
1 banana shallot, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
1 tbsp cajun-style seasoning
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 can baked beans
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup grated mozarella-style cheezly or other melty-style cheeze
Glazing mix - 1 tbsp soya milk mixed with 1 tbsp cooking oil

Method: Preheat the oven to GM6/400oF/200oC. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a heavy-based frying pan. Fry the onion and shallot for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the green pepper and celery and fry for another 10 minutes until veggies begin to soften. Keep a close eye on your veggies to ensure they don't burn, reducing the heat and adding a splash of water if necessary. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste, cajun style seasoning, hot sauce, vegan worcestershire sauce, pepper and liquid smoke. Fry for a couple of minutes stirring constantly to stop the seasonings from sticking. If necessary (at any point) use some of the water to deglaze the pan. Then add the can of baked beans and the rest of the water before bringing to the boil. Turn down immediately, and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, line and trim your well-greased pie cases and cut out circles slightly larger than the circumference of your pie cases for the lids. Spoon your filling into the pie case until 3/4 full. Then sprinkle some grated cheeze on top. Moisten your pie rim with water and put on your pie lid, pressing down around the edges to seal. Brush the pastry lid all over with the soya milk-oil mix. Make a hole in the middle of the crust to allow the steam to escape and pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes - until the crust is golden brown. Serve with mashed potato, mushy peas and parsley liquor.


4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 heaped tsp plain flour
1 1/2 cup water (I use the water held back from boiling the potatoes for the mash)
1/2 tsp bouillon powder
4 tbsp fresh or dried chopped parsley
1 tbsp malt vinegar (optional)
Metal Whisk

Method: Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the oil and start whisking. Whisk until the roux becomes a smooth golden paste, then add the potato water, whisking constantly. Once the roux and liquid are well combined you should have a translucent sauce the consistency of gravy. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring thoroughly to combine. Pour over your pie and love... or hate!

'Allo, me little cocksparrer!


  1. YAY! Another awesome E.A.T World post! Thank you for the recipe, but where are the eels? Mwahaha! *mmm eels* :-D

    I do love my fresh parsley, so maybe I am a parsley liquor lover? The whole plate looks yummy... Look! The Pope! *snatches your plate and runs off*

  2. what a great E.A.T. World post, DJ! i must admit i shuddered when i read "stewed eels with chilli vinegar". ah ha ha! eek! parsley liquor sounds like something i think i'd totally enjoy - and i'd love these pies, too! i love that you made 'em cajun-style. mmmmm!

  3. Wow. This sounds delicious. Although I did kind of gag on the eel comment. I want to make a vegan guiness pie for my EAT World contribution.

  4. wow they look delicious,minus the eels phew:) yew:( the parsley liquor I will be trying but not sure on my reluctant littlies,they are a teeny bit fed up with all my new recipes:) I love parsley and always embarrass everyone by eating the decoration on the plate,it's for decoration they all shout;)eels oh I mean definitely mean pies here we come,by the way was it banana?and what is liquid smoke?x

  5. River - gimme my pie back!
    Jessy - thanx! Love cajun-style beans. In a pie? Perfect!
    Krys - look forward to your Guinness Pie recipe!
    Becky - I Love parsley too - I add it to everything! It was a banana shallot I added to the pie mix, it's like a cross between onion and garlic but milder than both! The liquid smoke is a condensed seasoning that gives a smoky, BBQ flavour to your food. Great if you want to recreate a bacon or ham flavour in a dish. You usually have to buy it online or from specialist American grocery stores. Email me, I'm waiting!! (n_n)

  6. nomnomnom, looks like home. who will veganize eel pie now?

  7. Eels up inside ya
    Findin an entrance where they la la.
    I love me some pie and mash. Never had liquor before but it looks good and I LOVE parsley.
    I'm delighted at the inclusion of mushy peas. Mushy peas are a serious addiction of mine.

  8. DJ, these pies look GREAT! And I love parsley too... (Lets not think about the eels... BTW, good to know you're a Boosh fan, too, Jeni!)

  9. That plate looks oozing with greatness! I love how the whole thing is swimming in liquor, yum!

  10. Oh myyyy gawd. I love English food, the more homey the better, and this looks INCREDIBLE! You are such a vegan genius. I know I say it all the time, but seriously! Come on, every single post you make I start drooling all over myself. If anything could make me move back to the rain of England it would be so I could come to your house for dinner!


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