It doesn't matter whether it's beef, chicken, duck, a leg of lamb, or a shoulder of pork; they all taste better for having been slow-roasted in the oven. And ditto too with the veggies and potatoes. My Spanish family rarely cook anything outside of bread, pizza and cakes in their ovens, but over here in Blighty we've always loved our oven-cooked savouries.
One of the great things about this type of cooking is the left-overs. A good roast of beef, like we had last Sunday, can easily be stretched out over a couple of dinners. And what you do with the left-overs can be just as tasty as the main event.
Last night I made these beef and mushroom pies from our Sunday leavings. And they went down a treat with the troops at supper time.
If you'd like to have a go at making some of your own, they're easy and quick to prepare. Here's my recipe, which should produce individual pies for 5 or 6 people (depending on how generous you are with the filling):
My left-over Sunday Roast weighed about 400g after I'd cut off all the bits of fat
250 g sliced mushrooms
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot peeled and sliced into smallish slices
1 large leek, washed and finely sliced
4 toes of garlic finely sliced
200 ml of gravy also left-over from our Sunday dinner - made using the cooking juices from the joint
200 ml red wine
A couple of sprigs of finely chopped thyme
pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg for an egg-wash (optional: I don't do this as one of my troops has an egg allergy and I can't be faffed trying to remember which pie I haven't put the egg-wash on. It's easier for me to go eggless.)
1. Over a low heat sweat the leeks, carrots and mushrooms in a saucepan with the bay leaves and the thyme and a good glug of olive oil for about 15 minutes. You want them to be soft, but not browned.
2. Add the red wine, and turn the heat up to burn off the alcohol for 5 minutes or so, stirring to make sure that the mixture doesn't catch on the bottom.
3. Add the diced meat and the gravy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well so that everything's nicely mixed and set to one side (off the heat).
4. Roll out the pastry and cut circles for the bases of your pies and for the tops. I use a pie tray with individual pie moulds that measure 9cm in diameter and have a depth of 6 cm. I think they produce a pie of perfect proportions for each person. Through trial and error I've discovered that if I use a Portmeirion cereal bowl to cut around it makes a perfectly sized circle for the pie casing, and cutting around the base of an Emma Bridgwater mug makes the perfect pastry roof to go on top. Ideally you want your case to sit just a little bit higher than the top of the mould so that you can squish it into the roof to seal the whole thing up, but we'll get to that later.
5. Butter the pie moulds to stop things sticking, and line them with pastry.
6. Spoon the beef and vegetable mixture into your pie cases. Be sure and pick the bay leaves out of the mixture and discard, as they won't make great pie-filling. Place the pastry lids on top, and push them gently into the walls of the cases with the prongs of a fork to seal the edges. Then slice through the top with a knife to make two or three steam vents.
7. If you're doing an egg-wash. Beat your egg and glaze the tops of the pies with the egg mixture using a pastry brush.
8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220º C for 20 minutes. Then, without opening the door, turn the heat down to 180º C, and leave them to bake for a further 25 minutes.
9. Remove from the pie moulds with a palette knife and serve with a Greek salad or whatever sort of side-dish takes your fancy.
Enjoy with your nearest and dearest and a decent glass of vino.
All the best for now,