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Calum Franklin is a wizard with pies. The self-proclaimed pastry deviant knows how to weave together pie dough into stunning confections, a task he’s undertaken as the executive chef at London’s Holborn Dining Room. Here, he prepares all sorts of pies—from curried mutton pies dotted with mango salsa to swirly, puffed up Yorkshire pudding—flaunting elaborate knifework and pastry decoration you don’t often seen in the U.S. And now you, too, can become a pie connoisseur, thanks to Calum’s new cookbook: “The Pie Room.” 

Related Reading: This Banana Cream Pie with a Peanut Butter Cookie Crust Is Too Good to Be True

In “The Pie Room,” pies aren’t simply treated as an afterthought, a dessert that might be picked at by stuffed diners. Instead, Calum confirms that pies should, in fact, be jammed with prawns and curried cauliflower and Scotch eggs, a feast that deserves to be in the spotlight for every meal. His cookbook is a testament to that, a space that highlights both recipes and all the necessary skills to becoming a pie wizard yourself.

The Pie Room: 80 Achievable and Show-Stopping Pies and Sides for Pie Lovers Everywhere, $27 on Amazon

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Page through the book to find a wealth of savory, decidedly British pie recipes, like keema-spiced cottage pie (a minced meat often found in Indian cooking), red onion, hazelnut, and carrot tatin, and curried cauliflower and potato pasties, then flip to the back for an array of sweet ones, too: rhubarb and custard tart, apricot and lemon thyme cobbler, and panettone & gianduja pudding. The recipes use a range of doughs, allowing readers to master everything from classic puff pastry to hot water crust pastry, rough puff pastry, and sweet shortcrust pastry. Calum also includes all of the important tactics for making pies at home, providing insight into perfecting pastry dough and properly lining pie tins. You’ll also learn how to crimp pastry dough and decorate pies to look as if they’ve emerged out of restaurant kitchens.

Ahead you’ll find Calum’s recipe for a beef, Stilton, and onion pie, which Calum recommends baking up on a snowy day when you’re trapped inside. The pie requires making rough puff pastry (although it can be subbed for store bought puff pastry in a pinch), a dough that relies on breaking up small bits of butter into the flour, instead of combining it with one slab of butter in regular puff pastry. You’ll roast hunks of beef chuck in the oven and in a skillet, you’ll sweat out the onions and mushrooms, followed by a glug of red wine to simmer, then add the vegetables into the oven with the beef to continue to braise. 

Once the filling is ready, transfer it into the baking dish, crowned with wedges of Stilton cheese and a layer of puff pastry—arranged to your preferred art direction, then painted with an egg wash. The pie needs to hang in the fridge for a few to allow the flavors to meld together and firm up before heading into the oven to bake until the puff pastry has turned a glossy golden brown. Calum recommends serving the pie with a side of boiled new potatoes and slow-roasted carrots, promptly followed by a nap on the couch.     

Reprinted from The Pie Room by arrangement with Bloomsbury Publishing. Copyright © 2020, Calum Franklin.

Beef, Stilton & Onion Pie Recipe

This is a pie for wintry days when the roads are blocked and you are snowed in. It is rich, decadent and best followed by a nap on the couch.

Beef, Stilton & Onion Pie

Serves: 4-6
  • 300g rough puff pastry (or shop-bought puff pastry)
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for brushing
  • For the filling: 600g beef chuck steak, cut into 4cm dice
  • 100g plain flour
  • 40ml vegetable oil
  • 4 Spanish onions, peeled and halved but with the roots left on
  • 400g chestnut mushrooms, halved
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 300ml red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 litres beef stock
  • 100g Stilton cheese, broken into 2cm nuggets
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan/240°C/gas mark 9.
  2. To prepare the filling, put the beef in a roasting tray, dust with the flour and toss the beef until all the flour has been absorbed by the meat. Add 20ml of the vegetable oil to the tray and toss well to make sure the meat is evenly coated. Put the tray in to the preheated oven and roast the beef for 20 minutes until browned and any juices released during cooking have evaporated.
  3. While the beef is roasting, cut each onion half into six wedges through the root to leave petals. Put a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the remaining 20ml of vegetable oil and warm for 1 minute. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the onions have started to brown. Add the mushrooms to the pan with half the salt and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes until the mushrooms have just softened. Next, add the red wine, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a simmer.
  4. After 20 minutes, remove the beef from the oven and check it is nicely browned. If not, return it to the oven for a further 5 minutes. When the beef is ready, tip the onions, mushrooms, herbs and red wine into the roasting tray over the top of the meat. Put the frying pan back on the heat and pour in the beef stock – half at a time, if necessary – and bring to a simmer. Add to the tray with all the other pie filling ingredients.
  5. At this stage, take the time to make sure the beef is not stuck to the bottom of the roasting tray: using a wooden spoon, dislodge any caramelised chunks of meat. Working carefully as the tray is hot, tightly cover the top of the tray with aluminium foil. Return the tray to the oven and continue to cook at 220°C fan/240°C/gas mark 9 for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160°C fan/180°C/gas mark 4 and set a timer for 1¾ hours.
  6. While the filling is braising, prepare the pastry. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 5mm thick circle large enough to cover the pie dish. Slide the rolled-out pastry onto the lined tray and chill in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes. Set aside any pastry trimmings for decoration.
  7. After the beef has been braising for 1¾ hours, remove the tray from the oven and, using a dish towel to protect your hands, carefully peel back a corner of the foil. Spoon out one chunk of beef and check to make sure it is tender. It is okay if the beef has a little bite left in it, but it should not be chewy. If necessary, pop the tray back in the oven for a further 15 minutes and check again.
  8. When the beef is ready, carefully remove all the foil from the roasting tray. Place a colander over a large bowl and tip in the filling. Let the mixture strain for a couple of minutes, then place the contents of the colander back into the tray and spread around to cool down. Transfer the strained liquid from the bowl to a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with the pepper and the remaining salt, adding a little at a time, stirring and tasting until it has the correct level of seasoning. Pour the reduced liquid over the mixture in the tray and set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to speed up the process. Once the mixture is cool, transfer the filling to the pie dish and level the surface. Nudge the nuggets of Stilton into the filling, distributing them evenly across the surface but avoiding the sides.
  9. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C fan/220°C/gas mark 7.
  10. Brush the rim of the pie dish with the egg wash, brushing about 2.5cm down the sides of the dish. Lay the pastry circle centrally across the top of the dish, allowing it to rest lightly on top of the filling. (The pastry lid should not be taut as it may droop during cooking and tear.) Press firmly down on the pastry against the egg-brushed rim of the dish to seal all the way round. Lightly brush the pie lid with more egg wash and decorate however you prefer using the reserved pastry trimming and then brush that with egg wash. Return the pie to the refrigerator and chill for a further 20 minutes.
  11. Place the dish on a rack in the centre of the preheated oven and bake the pie for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the core temperature of the filling has reached at least 70°C on a digital probe thermometer. Alternatively, poke the tip of a knife through the pie into the middle of the filling and leave it there for a few seconds – it should be hot to the touch. Halfway through the cooking time, turn the dish around in the oven to ensure an even bake. Serve the pie simply with some boiled new potatoes and slow-roasted carrots.

Header image courtesy of "The Pie Room."

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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