I have an ideal in mind when I talk about the perfect mince pie… the pastry for starters should be flaky, but not too flaky – you want a good mouthful of pastry when you bite into the pie, it shouldn’t just flake everywhere and leave crumbs all over your chin. The exterior colour of the pie should be a soft and mellow golden colour – overcook the pie and you can taste the burnt pastry, and that’s when things start getting overly flaky.
As far as the mince filling goes, there are just about as many versions as there are pie eaters, but to my mind there should be plenty of mince (beef of course!) so that the filling just about reaches the top of the pastry case. I like my filling a little bit ‘wet’, so there should definitely be a sauce/gravy element to the filling, but I hate those pies that are mostly gravy with very little meat – that’s just cheap and nasty! The flavour of the filling should be rich and ‘meaty’ with plenty of seasoning. Onion and garlic, along with herbs and beef stock, should simmer slowly with the meat for at least an hour until the onion has broken down and become part of the sauce. When it comes to mince pies I’m a bit of a purist… no peas, carrots or corn as fillers for me!!
I made a mince pie for dinner last night (see above), and was all ready to take a photo of it when it came out of the oven – it really did look beautiful! But I got kind of side tracked, and forgot to take the photo before tucking into the pie… so you’ll just have to take my word for it 🙂
What’s your idea of pie perfection?