The last time you had guests around for dinner, do you remember how long it took for you to decide what to eat, buy in all the ingredients, prepare the food for cooking and only then pit it in the oven or on the hob?
Chances are that it took you quite a time – and even then left you nervous about how it might all turn out when it reached the table and your dinner guests pronounced their verdicts.
So here is an idea for making things a lot easier on yourself the next time you plan to throw a dinner party.
Pie and mash
Sure to raise your eyebrows initially, pie, mash and the mysterious accompanying “liquor” in fact makes for something thoroughly different when it comes to hosting just about any type of dinner party.
Serve it just as it is or add whatever side dishes and vegetables you like, and you have an instant, wholesome and satisfying meal.
Slash agonising decisions about what to serve and time preparing the meal by buying pies online. Your job is done straight away when freshly baked, traditional handmade pies arrive chill-packed straight to your door, ready to heat and serve.
A brief history of pie and mash
Not only does pie and mash make for a thoroughly different, nourishing and satisfying meal, it also offers plenty of dinner table conversation about this uniquely British piece of culinary history – where the emphasis is most definitely on London in particular.
In a History of British Food, it is explained that these pies were originally filled with eel meet – eels were plentiful and readily available from the Thames when the dish was first concocted.
Over the years, the pie filling has been largely replaced with minced beef, it continues to be accompanied by mashed potato and the special feature is the mysteriously called “liquor.” This was originally a gravy made from eels and heavily seasoned with parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper. This recipe, too, may have changed slightly over the years, but in many family-run pie and mash shops remains a closely guarded secret.
When you start looking for your pies online, you are by no means limited to the traditional pie, mash and liquor. Other meat pies may be filled with steak and kidney, steak and potato, steak and ale, chicken, chicken and ham, chicken and mushroom, or lamb (best seasoned with rosemary). Some bakers may even offer more exotic variations on the theme of the basic meat pie, such as chicken Balti pies.
if you have vegetarians amongst your guests, they too are able to indulge in the table’s passion for pies. In this instance, there are veggie pie, mash and liquor versions available online, together with others containing cheese, potato and onion, or root vegetables.
With some many options to choose from, none of your dinner guests is likely to go home hungry and all may have experienced a memorable evening harking back to some of the most traditional of British cuisine. And, of course, allow a few moments to explain the long-standing history of pie and mash to your guests. Bon Appetit!