Pastry: A crust above (+recipes)

By Amanda Laird

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The better quality the pastry and the filling, the nicer the pie or sausage roll.

Autumn vegetable, blue cheese and thyme. Photo / Babiche Martens
Autumn vegetable, blue cheese and thyme. Photo / Babiche Martens

All the men - big and small - in my life love a good pie and will hunt far and wide to find a well-made specimen. One loves bacon and egg made with the tastiest of bacon, whole eggs, a little onion and a sprinkle of parsley. Another adores a delicious chicken breast and mustard number which consists of half a breast simply laid between two layers of pastry spread with Dijon mustard. Then there is a third who likes to take the top off first, eat the filling with a spoon and then finish off the pastry in a couple of mouthfuls.

Pies can be made and prepared in a variety of ways, but most importantly they need to incorporate the tastiest of fillings with the best quality homemade or store-bought pastry (just make sure it uses butter). When it comes to a traditional meat pie, I recommend slow cooking less expensive but more flavoursome cuts of meat such as shin or gravy for fillings. Add a handful of herbs, garlic and onion, stock and wine and allow to simmer for at least three hours. For something a little different make this into bite-sized pies or add chopped hard-boiled eggs and olives to the mix and make them into delicious empanadas to serve with drinks.

I have always loved a good sausage roll. Years ago I happened upon the smallest of delis in Parnell where they made sausage rolls bursting with mustard, herbs, onion, garlic and black pepper. They were so delicious, I have been trying to replicate them since. The key is to have a 40/60 balance between pork mince and sausage meat, with a generous dose of mustard and herbs, and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Whatever your pastry filling, be sure to make it generous and hearty. There's nothing worse than a mean pie. Remember to experiment with your fillings. Another favourite of mine (not the boys) is a vegetarian pie.

Simply roast your favourite vegetables first, then make a blue cheese and thyme sauce and mix all together. Delicious.

Chef's tip

All pastry tastes better when made with butter. Using a shortcrust on the bottom and a flaky or puff pastry on the top gives a pie a solid base so it doesn't fall apart. Flaky or puff pastry provides a light and crumbly texture.

- NZ Herald

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