Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Pie And Mash With Liquor, An East London Classic-Updated

on July 4, 2015

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As a young girl, I spent a few years, from late 1969 to the early 70’s living with my mom and younger sister, in a town called Vauxhall, in London. It definitely was an experience and somewhat traumatic. I was born and raised in New Jersey so this was quite a change, for a young girl. What I did love was, learning about my mom and where she grew up.

Meeting my extended family, cousins, aunts, and uncles, was awesome. The other was the food. I tasted dishes, I would otherwise never have had the opportunity too. I can remember the street markets. Food markets, like I’d never seen before, and smells, that were so unfamiliar to me. One, that stood out, was this specialty small eatery. It had tiled walls and the tubs of jellied eels.  I remember it like it was yesterday. The look of pure joy on my mom’s face, when she saw that they offered Pie and Mash.

I’d never heard or smelt anything like it before. Now, I was only like 8 years old at the time. Then she carried the food over to the table. She explained to us that there were bits of eel in the gravy (liquor). I was like no way, absolutely not, I’m not tasting that! Forget about the fact that the gravy (liquor) was green. Oh, and my sister, well she stared, at the food, with a blank look on her face.

My mom is no longer with us today, so I wanted to pay homage to her by making her childhood favorite, Pie And Mash.  From what I’ve read, Pie And Mash is a traditional working-class food. There are only a few stubborn outposts of this cuisine that have survived. The jellied eels were very popular- cooked eels, set in an aspic jelly made from eel bones They were an acquired taste and not a gastronomic treat. I would have to agree with that statement. To be perfectly honest, I’ve tasted eel at sushi restaurants, and they were delicious, jellied just not as appetizing to me.

They say that the English eel has a delicate flavor, and that’s why it works so nicely with the bland flavor of the potatoes. Today, however: the eel, pie and mash shops are under threat because the European eel is becoming threatened. Since 1980 the population of the eel has dropped by 95%. Some conclude the over-fishing of the species, pollution, and changes in the ocean current, brought on by climate change may be the cause, but no-one really knows. In 2010 a huge amount of migrating elvers were spotted swimming up the River Severn and maybe that’s a good thing to be happening.  Pie, Mash with eel. is still common in south-east London, and in many parts of Kent, and Essex.

Before popular fast-food favorites like burgers, kebabs, and fried chicken, London had Pie And Mash With Liquor, An East London Classic-Updated.

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This picture above is the classic Pie And Mash With Jellied Eels. I’m going to update this dish, without the eel of course. I believe that a dish, that was so important to a way of life in the 19th century London, can be revived.

I’m going to be using *roasted garlic in my parsley gravy. When you roast garlic it becomes sweet and I think this will add extra flavor to the gravy.


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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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They should have a beautiful evenly baked golden crust. Let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into the pie.

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Cooking Time For Meat Pies: 20 to 25 minutes
Cooking Time For Potatoes: 25 minutes (10 minutes in the hot water with heat off)
Cooking Time For Gravy: 5 to 7 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 10-cup food processor, 4 rimmed baking sheet pans, double boiler, potato masher

Step-By-Step Instructions:
1. Make the pie crust day before and keep in the frig,
2. Start with boiling the potatoes.
3. Make the meat filling and let cool.
4. Mash the potatoes, set a double boiler on the stove to keep potatoes warm.
5. Roll out the pie dough.
6. Fill the pies and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
7. Make the gravy. Cover and keep warm.
8. Bake the meat pies.

Ingredients For Mash Potatoes:
4  large red potatoes, cooked
3 tablespoons of butter, unsalted and room temperature
4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
4 cloves of garlic, roasted
1/2 cup of half-and-half (start with half a cup add more if needed)
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Meat Filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds of ground sirloin
1 large diced onion
4 cloves of *roasted garlic
1-1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of ground English mustard (ground mustard)
1/2 cup of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/2 cup of beef consomme

Ingredients For Gravy:
2 cups of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 cloves of *roasted garlic
10 ounces chicken broth, low sodium
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper

Start with making the pie crust in the early morning, even better the day before, and refrigerate. Start with the potatoes boiling.  While that’s working, make the filling for the meat pies. After the meat filling is done, let the meat filling completely cool.  Go back to the potatoes, add the ingredients to the potatoes, then mash until smooth. Set the potatoes on a double boiler to stay warm.

Directions For Pie Filling:
In a large sautépan on medium-high heat, add olive oil. To the pan add the diced onion and sautè for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Next, add the ground beef. Break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon to start it browning. Once the meat is brown, 5 to 7 minutes, add the roasted garlic, tomato paste, English ground mustard, fresh thyme leaves (if substituting dried thyme use half the amount), Kosher salt, and black pepper, stir to combine. Sautè for another 5 minutes before adding the all-purpose flour. Stir the flour to combine. Add the red wine and beef consomme. Again stirring everything through. Bring up to bubble, then reduce to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

Directions For Mash Potatoes:
In a large stockpot add 4 large red potatoes and cover with water. Bring up to a boil and reduce heat to med-low, cook at a gentle boil, until they are fork-tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain the potatoes into a colander. Allow them to cool down enough to peel.  Return them back into the warm pot. Take a knife and break the potatoes up into chunks. Add softened butter, 4 cloves of the roasted garlic, softened cream cheese, the half and half, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Take a potato masher, mash the potatoes until creamy and smooth.  Transfer the mash potatoes to a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl on a double boiler, ( a bowl on top of a pot of water, set on low heat, with very slow simmering water in it). Make sure there is enough water in the pot, but not to where the water touches the bowl.

Directions For Homemade Pie Crust:
On a floured board, cut each disk in half. Roll each half out into a circle about, 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch in thickness. Lay them out on 4 sheets parchment paper. One at a time, place the filling on the bottom 1/3 of the circle. In a bowl, have egg wash on standby. Brush the outer rim of the circle with the egg wash. Bring the bottom half of the pie dough up to meet the top half and press gently to let any excess air out. Using a fork, crimp the edges. With a sharp knife, trim any extra dough to make a nice clean border around the crimped edges. Brush the top of the pies with egg wash. Transfer pies (using a spatula) from the parchment paper to sheet pans. Move the sheet pans, with the pies, to the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes. Prepare the gravy (liquor).

In a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, add the roasted garlic, and the chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley. Pulse until ingredients are finely minced. Next, add the tablespoon of white vinegar, pulse 1 or 2 more times.

In a saucepan on medium heat, add unsalted butter. Once that’s melted, add the flour, whisking the flour and butter together, cook gently, 1-2 minutes, until light blond in color. Next, add the unsalted chicken broth, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking this until it comes up to a bubble. Turn the heat down to very low, add in the parsley mixture, whisking slowly, until the color becomes a beautiful green. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the sauce mixture into a sieve over a bowl. Strain completely. Return the smooth parsley sauce (liquor) back into the saucepan. Turning the pan up to medium- heat, whisking continuously. Bring the gravy back up to a bubble until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, it’s done. Turn the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and keep warm. Remove the pies from the frig and bake.

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Take the meat pies out of the refrigerator transferring them into the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. When the pies are done, let rest for 15 minutes.

To serve Pie And Mash, use a spatula to scrape the mash potatoes along one side of the plate. First, ladle a little of the gravy (liquor) onto the plate. Place the meat pie on top. Spoon a little more gravy over the top of the pie. Serve hot.

Ingredients For *Roasted Garlic:
1 large head of garlic
olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Directions For *Roasted Garlic:
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Cut the top 1/4 inch off the head of garlic to expose the cloves. On a rimmed baking sheet place the garlic bulb onto a piece of foil (large enough to wrap the bulb in. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the exposed surface of the garlic. Let the oil sink down into the cloves. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes. The garlic is done when the cloves are completely soft, pierced with a paring knife. Check the garlic after 40 minutes. Time may vary depending on the size of the garlic bulb. Once done, let cool slightly. Press on the bottom of the clove to push it out of its paper.

If you want to make this dish in advance, have the meat pies prepared and in the frig ready to be bake. You can also have the potatoes done, covered and sitting over a double boiler on low heat. At that point, you could bake off the pies while making the gravy.

Homemade Pie Crust


One response to “Pie And Mash With Liquor, An East London Classic-Updated

  1. Mark Tascarella says:

    What a lovely tribute to your mom and relatives! My uncle married a young gal from London after WWII. He actually won her hand in a lottery on a GI War Bride bill from having served with George Patton in Europe. My aunt Domenica lived with my dad’s parents in a coal mining town in western Pennsylvania for 10 years before moving to New York with my uncle. But, I can remember a few of her British culinary pleasures that she dished up to a very hard-core Italian family who were very unfamiliar with anything besides pasta, chicken, or venison. What that woman could do with a couple of fish fresh caught from the Allegheny River and a lemon gravy.

    That you for bringing back the memories. I gotta find me and eel.

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