Hand pie… Pasty… What’s in a name? No but seriously, that’s an actual question I’m asking you. I could Google it, I guess, but shouting desperately into the void is really more on-brand for me.
Anyway, this is basically a recipe for four individual, self-contained pies – if you’ve ever perused a certain high street baking chain’s glass-fronted counter, you’ll know what I mean. Also, if you glanced even passingly at my last recipe for a veggie festive bake, this is actually the original recipe that started me on that road! It’s less festive, and a bit more work, but ridiculously delicious and comforting – both things we need to put in our faces from time to time, I feel.
(I’m not inclined to call this a pasty because I feel I would be bringing down the full wrath of the Cornish community on myself; let us call it simply a hand pie, and hope nobody gets mad about it.)
The best way to make these is by prepping the filling the day before. It may sound like a faff, but keeping the filling cold means you keep your pastry cold, which is key to making sure it puffs up perfectly and you get a crispy, flaky crust. I made my filling at the weekend so dinner in the week would be less of a trial, and I’m incredibly glad I did. If you have half an hour to spare, make the filling and shove it in the fridge, and you can thank yourself the next day.
This is recipe just begging to be messed with; it would be lovely with some blue cheese, and of course any meat lovers could add leftovers from their Sunday roast. Use what you fancy, because recipes like this are suggestions, at the end of the day!
(There are no pictures to go with this recipe because, frankly, I ate mine too fast. I burnt my mouth. I have no regrets.
I did it again the next day. I have some regrets.)
Potato, Cheese & Onion Hand Pies (Vegetarian, Gluten-free options)
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 45-60 minutes (plus cooling time)
Medium frying pan; cheese grater; cutting board and sharp knife; one small and one medium bowl; spatula or wooden spoon; baking tray; pastry brush.
- 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry (gluten-free options are thankfully available to you)
- 300-400g potatoes (I used two fist-sized baking potatoes, but use whatever you have)
- 1 medium onion
- 45g mature cheddar
- 4 cheese slices (optional but recommended – I used gouda)
- 1tsp Dijon mustard
- 20g butter
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour (GF plain flour blend will work just fine)
- 150ml milk (you may need a little more or a little less, but this is definitely an ‘eyeball it’ scenario)
- Splash of vegetable or olive oil
- Handful of fresh parsley (optional)
- Salt & pepper
- Egg wash (egg beaten with a little water)
- For the filling – get your pan on a medium heat and add the oil. Peel and finely dice both your onion and the potatoes (if using new potatoes or similar, you can of course leave the skins on if you’d prefer) and then add them to the oil. You want them to be pretty small pieces so that they don’t take too long to cook through, and also so that you don’t have difficulty getting the pastry to comfortably cover the filling. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook the potato and onion mixture for around 15-20 minutes or until the potato is soft (it should yield to pressure from the back of a spoon).
- Add the butter and mustard and stir everything until the butter has completely melted. Turn the heat to low and add the flour, stirring until you don’t have any more pockets of flour. It’s going to look pretty lumpy and messy at this stage, but that’s absolutely fine. Leave the mixture to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, as this helps to “cook out” the raw flour taste.
- Splash in a little milk and stir vigorously until it’s all absorbed. Keep adding milk in generous splashes and stirring in this way until the mixture is starting to loosen, but isn’t too saucy; it should be pretty thick. Give your parsley a rough chop and add it at this stage, if using, give it a good stir, then remove from the heat. Scrape the mixture into your medium bowl and leave to cool for at least an hour. Once cooled, grate your cheddar and add to the mixture, season with a little more salt and pepper, and give it a final stir. At this stage you can either leave it overnight and assemble the pies the next day, or ignore my instructions entirely and do it right now — anarchy!
- When it comes to assembling and cooking your pies, it’s delightfully straightforward. Preheat your oven to 200C and get your baking tray on standby. Make your egg wash with a little beaten egg and water, and set to one side. Carefully roll out your puff pastry sheet and cut it in half, then in half the other way so that you have four equal pieces. Making sure to leave space round the edge for sealing, add a cheese slice to each piece of pastry, then add a quarter of the mix to each rectangle. Keep to one side of the pastry, shaping the mixture with your hands or the back of a spoon, as you’ll be folding the pastry over the filling to seal it. Brush the edges with the egg wash, fold the pastry over, and press the edges together, crimping them with a fork to seal everything in. Stab a few artful holes in the top of each one with a knife to let the steam escape, brush all over with egg wash, and put in the oven for around 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.
While I did indeed make four pies out of this, two were saved for the following day’s lunches, and I have never felt more in control of my life. Frankly, I might make this every weekend! It went down an absolute storm.
Let me know if you make the recipe, doctor it up, or love it just as it is. I shall leave you with this photo of some potatoes that we grew in our very own garden, and which we have been enjoying boiled and buttered and every available opportunity.