Scotland's beloved football (soccer) game specialty. A warm pie you could hold in your hands, boasting a semi-crunchy crust filled with a seasoned blend of ground meat with local spices.
For the crust (makes 4 pies)
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of lard
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- Extra flour for rolling and kneading
For the filling
- 1 lb of ground meat
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of granulated garlic
- 1 tsp of thyme
- 1 tsp of sage
- 1/2 tsp of allspice
For the tops (makes 4 tops)
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 tbsp of lard
- 1/8 tsp of salt
- Extra flour for rolling and kneading
For the egg wash
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp of milk
Making the crust
- Place the water and lard into a small saucepan and heat it on the stove until the lard liquifies into the water.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour with the salt, creating a small valley for the liquid to go.
- Pour the lard/water mixture into the flour, and stir with a spoon or spatula until the liquid is mixed fully into the dry ingredients.
- When you can handle the mixture with your hands, continue kneading with your hands until the dough fully forms.
- Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface, and place your dough ball onto it.
- Divide the dough into four pieces, and sprinkle some flour on them before rolling.
- Using a rolling pin, roll each piece evenly until it's roughly 1/4" thick.
- Carefully place the flattened dough into your form, making sure it shapes fully the way you desire.
- Store your finished crusts into the refrigerator for at least four hours. Overnight is better.
Making the pies
- Turn your oven on to 350°.
- In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the meat with the seasonings.
- Remove your crusts from the refrigerator and free them of any forms or shapes you might have used in creating them.
- Fill the crusts about 80% with the meat filling. Set the pies aside.
- Using the same process you did in making the crusts, create the dough for the tops using the ingredients listed.
- After rolling the dough to 1/4" thickness, cut circles using the forms you used in making the crusts.
- Place the tops on your pies, pressing the edges into the sides to close up the pie.
- Using a knife, cut a small hole in the top for steam release.
- Set up your pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg with milk for the egg wash, then brush it on each pie.
- Bake the pies in the oven for 35-45 minutes.
- Allow pies to cool slightly before serving.
Don't be in a hurry to handle the dough with your hands. The goal should be to keep mixing with a spoon or spatula until it cools enough not to burn your skin. You want the dough to stay warm and flexible, but not hot enough to hurt you.
If your dough seems sticky and wet, add a little more flour. If it seems too dry and and won't come together as one, then add a little water. This is not exact science, thus you need to rely on your own judgement.
When it comes to forms, it's entirely up to you on what you desire. Some will use small pans or larger pastry circles. Others like to flip a jar and use the bottom. I actually used empty cans from canned chicken, as they were the perfect size.
The reason we leave the crusts in the refrigerator is to allow the lard to cool and thus harden the crust a bit. Going at it fresh will create pies that might fall apart more easily. However, if you wish to bypass the cooling time, then at least seek out small pans you can bake the pies in from start to finish.
The tops do not need to be cooled the way they crusts were because we need them to be flexible so they can stretch and cover the pie.
The rationale for not filling the pies all the way is to have that small space on top to hold side ingredients such as potatoes, gravy, an egg, etc.
I used the term "meat" in the ingredients, which means this is open to your personal taste. Mutton is the more classic ingredient, but ground beef or lamb are what you'll find in most modern Scotch Pies.
Lard is an ideal fat for a hot water pastry, but you can also use butter or margarine. I would not try oil. You need a fat that will solidify when cold.
If you would rather not play with hot water pastry and are planning on eating these pies with a fork and knife, consider using store-bought puff pastry sheets. You'll get a light flaky crust that will do nicely.
One big tradition in serving Scotch Pies is with a hot cup of Bovril, which is a salty meat extract diluted with hot water. For those not in the mood, a good beer will do nicely. Scotch Pies are wonderful with chips (fries), mushy peas, beans, or mashed potatoes. Beef gravy or brown sauce are also wonderful accompaniments.