Cook Dorset Lesley Waters' version of a traditional pie
Some months back now, whilst enjoying a search through the book shelves of The Bookshop, off Bucky Doo Square in Bridport, I was surprised and delighted to stumble across a first-edition copy of Jane Grigson's Good Things. Unable to believe my luck, I quickly paid for this treasured cookbook find and popped it in my bag, looking forward to enjoying its contents at the earliest opportunity.
Later that evening, whilst sitting at my kitchen table with a glass of wine and my new book, wondering which dish to cook first, I happened upon a recipe for Fidget Pie. Now, I'm very partial to an old-fashioned pie or tart. I find them very satisfying to make and everyone always loves a pie. In fact, a friend of mine recently had a pie party, serving only pies, savoury and sweet, alongside a few bowls of salad. They went down an absolute storm, leaving only a few crumbs and lots of happy guests!
I scanned the ingredients list of this traditional East Anglian recipe and quickly realised that the combination of cider, bacon and apple, all topped with a rich butter pastry, lent itself perfectly to our local Dorset fare. So the very next day I was off to the farmers' market for some crisp, juicy apples (eaters, not cookers) and a bottle of local cider. I planned to use some cider for the pie and maybe splash the rest into a cheese fondue as a nice alternative to the traditional white wine. And for the meat, I bought some honey-smoked ham from Dorset Farms in Littlewindsor. Like all dishes with a simple combination of flavours, the secret lies in the quality of the ingredients and this, of course, gives us Dorset dwellers a distinct advantage over the rest of the country!
Back in the kitchen, using the great Mrs Grigson's recipe as a guide, I cooked up my own version - Dorset Fidget Pie. The resulting recipe was everything a pie should be - warm, rich and comforting with a golden crust. I served it with lashings of mash potato and steamed greens. It was delicious!
Dorset Fidget Pie
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1 large red onion, finely chopped
3 Cox's apples, washed (with the skin left on), quartered, cored and each quarter cut in half
1 bay leaf
1tbsp fresh thyme leaves
25g plain flour
200ml Bridge Farm Kingston Black cider
3tbps double cream
Freshly ground black pepper
2 x 135g pre-packed Dorset Farms Honey Smoked Ham, torn into large strips
2tsp Dijon mustard
1 x 375g Dorset Organic puff or shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 x large, shallow pie dish approx 23cm diameter
1 Heat the butter in a shallow pan. Add the onion and cook gently over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
2 Stir in the apples, bay and thyme and cook for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour, stir and cook for 1 minute.
3 Splash in the cider and pour in the milk. Bring up to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously, until thickened. Add the cream and season to taste with black pepper.
4 Stir in the strips of ham and the mustard. Pour into a large, shallow pie or ovenproof dish and set aside to cool slightly.
5 Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F, Gas Mark 6.
6 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry slightly larger than the pie dish. Lightly wet the rim of the pie dish with a
little water. Lay over the pastry and trim to fit the pie dish.
Brush well with beaten egg.
7 With a small, sharp knife cut a cross in the centre of the pie, place on a baking tray and cook for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden and puffed. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and steamed spring greens.