Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
What Are Scotch Pies?
Scotch pies are one of the most popular fast foods in Scotland. You will find them on sale throughout the land, in supermarkets, butchers' shops, bakers' shops and even in small local corner shops. They are traditionally made from mutton or lamb, encased in hot water pastry, though very often in present times, they will instead be made with beef. Scotch pies (or simply pies, as they are more often referred to in Scotland) were also at one time—and to a certain extent remain—a huge tradition with supporters at football (soccer) matches, where a pie and a Bovril was very much a part of the matchday tradition.
How to Make Traditional Scotch Pies
Tips for Making Hot Water Pastry
Hot water pastry is a notoriously difficult pastry to work with. This is due to the fact that if you allow it to cool too much when it is prepared, it will become almost impossible to roll and shape without it cracking. The magnitude of this problem clearly increases with the number of pies you intend making. For this reason, you should always preheat the bowl in which you are making the pastry but an additional tactic has been employed in this instance to help keep the pastry warm and pliable.
When the pastry has been mixed and divided in to portions, it is left in the bowl over a pot of recently boiled water (heat switched off) until needed. This simple idea really did work.
How to Shape Hot Water Pastry for Scotch Pies
The traditional way of making Scotch pie cases is to mould the pastry around the base of a cylindrical object such as a jam jar. Here, however, small foil cases were bought very cheaply from the supermarket. This makes the process much easier and cleaner, eliminating the risk of a pie collapsing in the oven. In order to find suitable pastry cutting templates, simply measure the cases and add twice the depth to the diameter. This will give you the required diameter of the implement you need to cut the base and sides of the pie. The diameter alone will give you the measurements for the lid. Two different sized kitchen bowls were found to be perfect for the purpose in this instance.
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 4 Scotch pies
- ½ lb minced (ground) lamb
- ½ tsp dried rosemary, ground to powder in pestle and mortar
- Salt and pepper
- ½ lb plain/all purpose flour
- 3oz lard
- 3 fl oz water
- 4 tbsp lamb stock (or gravy)
- Butter to grease pie cases
- A little bit of milk to glaze
*The traditional ingredients for Scotch pies would include a spice such as nutmeg or mace instead of the rosemary and gravy instead of the lamb stock. Hopefully, you will enjoy this slight variation from the normal, as rosemary of course goes very well with lamb.
Step-By-Step Guide to Making Scotch Pies
- Get your oven preheating to 375F/190C.
- Put the minced lamb in to a bowl and add the rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. The easiest way to mix it to ensure even distribution of the seasonings is with your hand.
- Put the water and the roughly cut lard in to a small saucepan and gently heat until the lard is melted.
- Lightly grease your foil cases with butter.
- Add the flour to a warmed bowl with about half a teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine and form a well in the centre, in to which the water and melted lard should be poured.
- Stir with a wooden spoon to form a dough and divide in to four equal portions. Sit the bowl on top of a pot of very hot water to keep the pastry warm and pliable.
- Clingfilm has been used to cover the board on which the pastry is going to be rolled. It makes it much easier to lift the pastry once it's rolled. Take the first piece of dough and pull off a quarter of it. Roll the two pieces in to balls.
- Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the larger ball until it is big enough to cut a circle with your larger template.
- Carefully lay the pastry in a foil dish and press it gently in to place. Trim off the excess around the edges with a sharp knife.
- Fill the pie two-thirds of the way up with the lamb, pressing down but not compacting it too firmly. Add a tablespoon of lamb stock.
- Roll out the smaller ball until you can cut the lid with the smaller template. Press it lightly in place.
- Repeat with the next three pies.
- Sit the pies on a baking tray and glaze with milk. Cut a small steam vent in the centre.
- Put the pies in to the oven for 30 minutes.
- Take the pies from the oven and use a spatula to lift them to a wire rack. Rest for fifteen minutes before lifting carefully from the foil cases.
Serving Suggestions for Scotch Pies
The recipes and serving suggestions below include cooking/preparation times and instructions for the accompaniments to the pies only. They assume the pies have already been made as described immediately above. If you have made the pies perhaps the day before, simply reheat them in the oven, on a baking tray, preheated to 190C/375F for 15 to 20 minutes.
Cold Scotch Pie With Cheese and Pickles
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: n/a
Ready in: 5 min
Yields: One serving
- 1 cold Scotch pie
- 1 tbsp Branston pickle
- 2 small, whole pickled baby beets
- 3 slices of cheddar cheese
- 3 chip shop style pickled onions
Note that the pie has simply been allowed to cool completely. It has not been in the fridge.
- Lay the pie on a plate and spoon the Branston pickle on the top.
- Arrange the cheese, beets and pickled onions alongside, tuck in and enjoy.
Scotch Pie With Baked Beans and a Poached Egg
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: One serving
- 1 Scotch pie
- 2 tbsp baked beans in tomato sauce
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Chopped chives to garnish
Egg Poaching Video Instructions and Plating Up
How to Reheat a Scotch Pie
This pie had been stored in the fridge overnight, so it's required to be reheated in the oven.
- Put your oven to preheat to 375F/190C and sit the pie on a baking tray. Heat for 15 minutes.
- The beans should be gently heated in a small saucepan.
- For poaching the egg, bring a large pot of water (about 3" deep) to the gentlest of simmers and stir in the white wine vinegar.
- Break the egg in to a small cup or bowl, careful not to break the yolk.
- Stir the water to form a whirlpool and gently pour in the egg. Cook on the gentlest of possible simmers for three or four minutes, depending upon how soft you like the egg yolk to be.
- Spoon the beans on to the pie and when the egg is ready, lift it from the water with a slotted spoon and sit it on top of the beans.
- Scatter the chopped chives to garnish.
How to Make Scotch Pie Alternatives With Puff Pastry
As touched upon earlier, hot water pastry can be difficult to work with but although it is essential to a truly authentic Scotch pie, you can make a very tasty alternative pie using puff pastry. In the following pie recipe, the lamb is also substituted for beef.
Alternative Scotch Pies Recipe With Puff Pastry and Beef
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- ¼ lb minced/ground beef
- ¼ small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- Pinch dried thyme
- Salt and black pepper
- ¾ lb pre-rolled puff pastry, removed from fridge half hour in advance
- Little bit of melted butter, for greasing pie cases and glazing
- 2 tbsp fresh beef stock or gravy
Step-By-Step Guide to Making Scotch Pies With Puff Pastry
- Get your oven on to preheat to 190C/375F. Put the beef, onion and thyme in to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use your hand to mix it so that everything is fully and evenly combined.
- Unroll the puff pastry. Use your larger template to cut two circles, one from the extreme top right and the other from the extreme bottom left. This is to allow enough room to cut two smaller templates from what remains, though you should check in advance of cutting that this arrangement will work.
- Lightly butter two cases and carefully fit in the larger circles, pressing down only lightly to shape. Trim around the top edge of each casing with a sharp knife.
- Add enough beef to fill the cases two-thirds of the way up. You may have a little extra beef left but don't be tempted to overfill. Add a tablespoon of stock/gravy to the top of the meat in each case.
- Cut the lids from the remaining pastry and gently press them in place over the meat. Be careful to press too hard and squeeze out the stock.
- Glaze the lid and edges of the pies with more melted butter and cut a small steam vent in the centre of each with the point of a very sharp knife.
- Sit the pies on a baking tray and bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes, until the pastry is a beautiful golden colour.
- Transfer the pies to a wire rack with a spatula and leave to rest for at least fifteen minutes before attempting to remove them from the foil cases.
Alternative Scotch Pie With Garlic and Chive Potato Cakes
Prep time: 1 hour 15 min (includes refrigeration time)
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 2 hours
Yields: Two servings
- 2 medium baking suitable potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2oz butter
- 2 tsp freshly chopped chives
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated
- Salt and white pepper
- 2 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
- 2 beaten eggs
- 4 tbsp golden breadcrumbs (supermarket bought)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 4oz tenderstem broccoli
- 2 alternative Scotch pies
How to Make Garlic and Chive Potato Cakes
- Bring the potatoes in a pot of salted water to a medium simmer for 20 minutes or until softened. Drain, return to the pot and leave to steam for five minutes. This helps get rid of the excess moisture and prevent soggy mash.
- Add some butter, white pepper and a little more salt to the potatoes before mashing with a hand-masher. Only after mashing should you add the chives and garlic and stir through well to combine.
- Line a large plastic dish with clingfilm/plastic wrap—this really does make life much easier later on! Split the potato mix in to four equal portions, roll in to balls and flatten like burger patties between the palms of your hands to around three-quarters of an inch. Wetting or flouring your hands beforehand helps a little but it's not really necessary. Lay separately in the dish and refrigerate for one hour.
- Put the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in three small bowls or deep bottomed plates. Gently heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan.
- Pat each potato cake firstly in the flour on both sides and around the edges. Dip in the beaten egg and pat in the breadcrumbs to ensure an even and complete coating. Fry on a medium heat for five minutes each side.
- Add the tenderstem broccoli to a pot of simmering, salted water for eight to ten minutes before draining through a colander or sieve.
Alternative Scotch Pie With Fried Potato Discs and Peas
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 25 min
Yields: One serving
- 1 medium baking potato, sliced to ¼" thickness
- 2 to 3 tbsp frozen peas
- Salt, black pepper and malt vinegar
- 1 alternative Scotch pie
How to Make Deep Fried Potato Slices
- Trim the end off the potato before slicing. Add the slices to a bowl of cold water for ten minutes to get rid of some of the starch. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- Deep fry the potato slices for three to four minutes. Remove to kitchen paper to cool and drain. After five minutes, fry again for another three or four minutes until golden and crisp.
- When the potatoes are started frying for the second time, add the peas to a pot of boiling water to simmer for three minutes.
- Drain the potatoes again on kitchen paper. Season with salt and vinegar.
- Drain the peas through a sieve and season with black pepper and malt vinegar.
- Plate the potatoes and the peas with your hot pie and serve.