American pie is a sweet tradition — apple, pumpkin, chocolate. But in Britain, pie is baked up savory — pork, duck, chicken, pigeon, sausage, pork.
And how. Meat pie is packed right to the ridges — no slick sauce or crisp carrot distraction. Heated, plunked on a pool of mashed potatoes and doused with mushy peas — that’s a meal that means it.
Even the exterior is larded with lard. Hot-water crust upends everything the American pastry chef practices and preaches: cold butter, cold counter, light touch. In northern Britain, the baker starts by boiling water and lard, then grabs a wooden spoon. The result is a pie brawny enough to heft its load of pork products and tasty enough to lift the winter gloom.
For the pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup bread flour
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 tablespoons lard (or substitute vegetable shortening)
⅓ cup boiling water, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon cream or milk
For the filling:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces dried apricots, thinly sliced
½ pound fresh chorizo sausage, casings removed
½ pound fresh bratwurst sausage, casings removed
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
To make pastry: Whisk together both types of flour and the salt in a large bowl. Drop in butter and rub to crumbs. Stir together lard and boiling water until melted; drizzle over flour and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes together. (If dry, add a little more hot water.) Shape into two disks, one with two-thirds of the dough, one with the remainder. Wrap and chill.
For the filling: Season chicken with salt, thyme, zest and pepper. Stir in apricots. In a separate bowl, crumble together both types of sausage; mix in onions.
Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Roll out the larger pastry disk to a thin 14-inch circle and fit into the pan. Scatter in half the sausage mixture. Scrape in all the chicken mixture. Finish with remaining sausage. Roll out the smaller portion of dough and trim to an 8 1/2-inch circle. Fit on this lid. Trim and crimp edges. Snip in a vent.
Whisk together the egg and cream. Brush top of pie with egg wash. Set pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 375, brushing top once or twice with egg wash, until browned, 60 to 70 minutes. Allow to cool. Slice into wedges. Enjoy warm or room temperature.
Makes 1 deep 8-inch pie, serves 8.
— Adapted from the “Great British Baking Show.”