This is a thoroughly Greek dish with the kalamata olives in the rich gravy and the garlicky skordalia – really a kind of exotic bread sauce, but none of the ingredients is hard to find. TIME ALERT – the pie filling needs to cook slowly – 2½ hours minimum. Aside from that, although it looks like a lot of instructions it really doesn’t take too long in terms of preparation.
- 250g/9 oz of shortcrust pastry – go here for how to make it the quick way or, if you can buy Dorset organic from Waitrose or Ocado or Natural Organic
- about half a cup of olive oil (or if you make soaked olives see ‘is your beloved a wild animal’ and use the oil from that)
- 130g/6 oz pitted black Kalamata olives NB NOT IN BRINE – if those are the only type you can find go here.
- 1 teasp plain flour
- 500g/1 lb shin of beef (get the butcher to trim off the silvery sinew on the outside first)
- 3 red onions
- ⅓ cup/80ml ginger wine
- ⅓ cup/80 ml water
- 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes (in a recent taste test Lidl tomatoes came first with a startling nine out of ten; second place was a tie between Waitrose, Tesco and Asda at six out of ten; last with a shameful three out of ten was Sainsburys)
- 1 teasp cumin
- bunch of fresh coriander
- smoked salt and Indonesian long black pepper
- small head of garlic (bash it a bit, take off any loose bits of skin)
- 75g slightly stale good (not the plastic stuff) white bread, crusts taken off and the bread torn into 50p piece size
- ½ cup/120ml warm milk
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with smoked salt
- Indonesian long pepper
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- ⅓ cup/80ml good green-coloured olive oil
- 2 courgettes sliced about ¼”/½ cm wide
- a little seasoned flour
- rape seed oil for frying (Brock & Morten’s from Derbyshire is good)
- lemon juice (squeezy is fine)
FIRST get the pie filling going
- preheat your oven to 130°C – if you have an aga you will be using the simmering oven first.
- in a casserole (ideally one which you can put the pastry on and make the pie in eventually) heat a couple of teaspoons of the oil
- season the flour and coat the meat with it
- fry the meat until brown and then take it out and leave it to one side
- add everything else including the meat, breaking up the tinned tomatoes in the process, bring to simmering point
- cover and leave to continue simmering in the oven for a minimum of 2½ hours
THEN make the skordalia
- soak the bread in the milk for about five minutes and then squeeze out – reserving the squeezed out milk
- mix together with the garlic, the pepper and the vinegar
- mix the oil in slowly with a fork – do this slowly, you may not need the whole lot. It depends on the staleness of the bread
THEN prepare the courgettes
- sprinkle them with a little salt and leave
THEN make the pastry if you haven’t bought it. Follow this link for how to do this quickly. The shorter (flakier) it is the better.
THEN you can EITHER go away and return about half an hour before you want to eat OR you can finish cooking the pie and simply reheat when you need to. Either way you then need to:
- preheat the oven to 220°C (use the aga roasting oven)
- roll out the pastry
- move the stew to a pie dish if you need to, taking out the cinnamon stick as you transfer it. Fish it out if you’re cooking the pie in the same casserole
- put in a pie funnel or an upside down tall egg cup inn the centre of the pie dish to keep the pastry from sinking into the gravy and getting stodgy.
- use the reserved skordalia milk to brush around the edges of the pie dish to help the pastry to stick to the edges better, and then brush the pastry over with the rest of the milk to get the pastry to go golden (unless you happen to have the odd spare egg yolk knocking around but I never have)
- put the pie in the oven for twenty minutes. After that, check, it may need a bit longer.
- warm the skordalia gently (put it on the aga warming plate if you have one, or wherever you warm your plates if you don’t, or you can get it warm in the microwave – it should be just above room temperature)
- dab the courgettes with some kitchen towel and toss in a couple of squirts of the squeezy lemon. Then toss in the flour seasoned with the pepper.
- heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan, get it quite hot, nearly smoking
AT THE LAST MINUTE
- fry the floured courgettes quickly until golden and crispy.
- serve with the pie and the skordalia
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