The Olympics hold a special place in my heart. As a kid, all I wanted was to become an Olympic swimmer (that unfortunately didn’t pan out). More recently, however, I have celebrated the opening ceremonies with some pretty momentous life events.
In 2004, for the Athens games, my husband and I had just closed on our first home purchase. My mom was in town helping us get settled, and we made a Grecian feast of moussaka and pita with various dips. In 2008, we watched the spectacular Beijing opening ceremony, ordered in Chinese food, and less than 24 hours later welcomed our first baby boy into the world.
I have to say that, while I’m really excited to watch the London games, British cuisine is making what to prepare for this celebration a little more challenging. The Brits do have a flair for creative names for their traditional dishes (Toad in the Hole, Bubble and Squeak, Bangers and Mash to name a few), but nothing was really standing out to me. And the thought of deep frying fish when it’s been close to 100 degrees all week sounded nauseating.
Then I remembered a trip to Bath that I took with my sister over a decade ago, and the delectable Cornish pasties that they serve as street food there. Somewhat like an empanada, they are savory, portable meat pies that come with a variety of fillings. I thought that the dough from my Grandmother’s sausage bread would be perfect, and a hearty filling of beef and vegetables braised in beer with the addition of a little Stilton blue cheese would make for a delicious and very British meal. Serve with a simple salad and a pint of good English beer.
Good luck to all our Olympians, and may London give us a good show!
- 1 batch of dough from Grandmother’s sausage bread
- 2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 small, red potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 rutabaga, peeled and diced
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 bottle good beer
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- Worcestershire sauce, to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 oz Stilton cheese
- 1 egg
- Heat oil in a large pan, and brown beef until no red is visible. Remove beef from pan and set aside.
- Discard all but about 1 tablespoon of the pan drippings, add flour to remaining drippings and cook on high until flour is bubbling and brown.
- Add beef, flour mixture, onions, potatoes, rutabaga, carrots and beer to a slow cooker or dutch oven. Add nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.
- Simmer, covered for 4 hours (on high if using slow cooker). Cook for an additional 30 minutes partially covered to thicken.
- Transfer filling to a bowl to cool. Using a slotted spoon, mash filling to break up large pieces of meat. Add chopped parsley and Worcestershire.
- Defrost peas by running under cold water, drain and add to mixture.
- Roll out dough. Recipe will make either 12 small hand pies, or one large 9×13 pan.
- For hand pies, or mini pie plate, use a biscuit cutter to cut out small rounds of dough, and then roll them out to fit your needs.
- Spoon filling into the bottom of your dough-lined dish, top with crumbled Stilton.
- Top with dough, crimp edges, and use a fork to prick holes in the top. Finish with an egg wash.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until crust is golden.