Inspired by all the beautiful Falcon enamelware (www.falconenamelware.com) sold in Found (www.foundbath.co.uk) in Bath, The Foodie Bugle team of home cooks decided to get together over lunch and create a Ragu Pie. Nearly every nation in Europe has its own version of Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie: made with either lamb, beef, chicken, game or pork mince, the principle is always the same. In this recipe, we have used a traditional beef Ragu recipe and topped it with mashed potato and grated Parmiggiano Reggiano and grilled the top. There are over 150 writers now registered in the magazine, from many different countries, and it would be very interesting to know how each community prepares its own meat pie.
On one topic we are all agreed. The great advantage of Falcon enamelware pie dishes, which have been selling since 1920, is that they can go straight onto the stove or into the oven, come out and cool on the worktable and the meal can then be wrapped in baking parchment or foil and kept in the freezer. Enamelware is glass fused onto heavy-gauge steel. This makes it smooth, durable and chemically-resistant, and if your pie dish chips it is still safe to use and gains in character and “heritage vintage chicness”.
You can wash the pie dishes in the dishwasher, they stack one on top of each other in the cupboard, thereby taking up very little space, and they look so beautiful with their iconic red and white or blue and white designs that they can be used as serving platters for the dinner party. They look frugal, homely, rustic and simple, embracing the culinary zeitgeist.
You will need one 37 cm. Falcon pie dish or two 20 cm pie dishes.
Ingredients to serve 4 people
To make the mashed potato
8 big Desire or King Edward potatoes
100ml fresh milk
Ingredients to make the Ragu sauce
60 g. of unsalted butter
Extra virgin olive oil
60g. of unsmoked pancetta – streaky bacon
1 celery stalk
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
400g. of mince meat from chuck steak or braising beef
Concentrated tomato paste
150ml. Red wine, San Giovese or Barbera
Freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and black pepper
150 ml. of chicken stock
150 ml. of milk
A handful of grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
To make the mashed potato, first scrub all the potatoes clean. Do not peel them. Boil them in salted water until soft when pierced. Drain. Peel the potatoes when they are slightly cooled. Mash them in a bowl with sea salt, black pepper, butter and milk. Set the mashed potato aside.
To make the Ragu sauce firstly prepare all the ingredients in front of you in little bowls. Weigh and measure everything you will need. Finely chop the soffritto ingredients: the onion / celery / carrot / pancetta / garlic. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
In a very large pan, heat the butter with a little olive oil. Cook the pancetta for just a few minutes, stirring well. Add the soffritto vegetables, and stir well. Add the bay leaf, a little seasoning, and just enough water in the pan to create a little steam. Cover with a cartouche of baking parchment, and cook the mixture gently for about 10 minutes. All the ingredients should soften.
Add the minced meat and cook over medium heat until it is crisp and brown. You want the meat to brown, not to stew, so keep stirring, and make sure the heat is high.
Add the tomato paste, and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Then add the wine, and evaporate the alcohol over high heat.
Add the stock, the freshly grated nutmeg, a drop of milk and some sea salt and pepper. Bring the heat down to a gently simmer. Stir well, and leave the mixture to cook for about 2 hours. The lid of the pan should be askew. Keep adding more milk, little by little and stirring. At the end of the cooking time you will have a very rich, creamy meat sauce.
Pre-heat the grill to its top setting. Take the Falcon enamelware tin and spoon the sauce inside it. Spoon the mash potatoes on top (you can use an ice-cream scoop if you want to make “golden balls” as shown in the photograph). Sprinkle the grated Parmiggiano cheese on top and grill the pie for about 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted and formed a crisp, golden layer on the top. You may need to turn the pie dish at half time, as the back may start to get too brown.
Found in Bath: www.foundbath.co.uk
Follow the Found team on Twitter: @foundbath
Falcon enamelware: www.falconenamelware.com)
Follow the Falcon team on Twitter: @falconenamel