I hereby drop a clanger into the ballot box
It’s versatile, it’s one of our best exports – it’s time the pie was voted the nation’s favourite
pastry did not have enough shortening or fat to be pleasurable to eat. A large joint of meat could be cooked in a pastry case, in the manner of a beef Wellington. This would keep the meat sealed and extend its life for some time. The best source we have for the consumption of meat in this form is probably Samuel Pepys, who was fond of a venison pasty. Sadly, he doesn’t go into much detail.
There is a bit of a pie renaissance going on at the moment. At Holborn Dining Room in central London, chef Calum Franklin has taught himself how to cook spectacular pies by watching YouTube videos: he has even opened his own “pie room”. You can buy a pie to take away, as you can at any football ground, but these are made with an extraordinary amount of attention to detail. People are travelling miles to eat one of the 200 pies he makes each day.
There are any number of regional variations on the pie and pasty, the most famous being the Cornish version; but today’s recipe is for a less well-known variant, the Bedfordshire clanger. I must admit that I was first drawn to it by the name, which seems to suggest it was seen as a heavy snack – probably made with suet pastry many years ago.
Although it is often served as half savoury and half sweet, I have just dispensed with this and mixed together the meat and apple. I think bacon goes incredibly well with apple as it makes a salty, slightly acidic and sweet pie.
One major problem with today’s shop-bought pie is that makers seem to have reduced the salt content, in keeping with Government guidelines, but to have increased the white pepper content. I find most shop-bought pasties to be inedible because of this.
The only solution is to make your own – and next time, don’t forget to vote for the pie as our nation’s favourite food.
Stephen Harris is chef-patron of The Sportsman in Seasalter,
Kent, whose many awards include the No1 spot in the 2018 Estrella Damm Best Gastropub Awards