Published on June 9th, 2012 | by Gareth14
Earlier this week I paid a short visit to Canberra, at 9 degrees C it was pretty chilly. The return trip to Sydney by car wasn’t much better as we hit the oncoming weather bomb complete with New Zealand style sideways rain and gale force winds.
It’s the type of weather that reminds me of autumn in England (or sometimes even summer). Strange though it may seem I used to enjoy going out for a hike or even playing a game of rugby in this type of fierce weather. I think it was mainly because it made the hot shower and après drenching food and beers all the better. Aside from hearty nosh the other thing that I like about late autumn, (or is it winter now?) is the fact that apples and onions are at their best.
As a Brit it pains me to admit but at the same time pleases me that Australian apples are among the finest I have ever tasted. Aussie apple fact that you may not know: the Granny Smith apple originated in Australia, being first cultivated by Mary Ann Smith in the late 1860’s. The Granny Smith’s sharp, crisp and tangy flesh, make it ideal for cooking. Of course the obvious conclusion when thinking about the combination of apples, winter and hearty food is probably an apple crumble. However, today I want to share a lesser known dish from the mother land, fidget (or fidgety) pie. This unusually named pie originates around Derbyshire and Shropshire, in the middle of the country. The origins of the odd sounding name seem to have come from the fact that it originally was fitched, which means five sided in Anglo-Saxon. The key ingredients are apples, onions and ham, bacon or gammon. Like the Cornish pasty it was the food of the workers and popular in the fields at harvest time. It also happens to be delicious.
Prep time: 25 mins
Cooking time: 30-35 mins
- 20cm diameter x 6cm deep spring loaded cake tin.
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cubed (1cm cubes).
- 1 large brown onion, diced.
- 1 medium size potato peeled and diced (King Edward/Maris Piper variety are perfect).
- 300g bacon/ham or gammon, I used big chunks of ham which most good butchers sell as off cuts.
- 1 tsp dried or fresh sage.
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard.
- 50g butter.
- 150ml dry cider, (alternatively use beef or vegetable stock).
- 3 tsps of full cream to thicken the sauce (alternatively use a tsp of cornflour).
- Shortcrust pastry buy or to make: 300g plain flour, 150g butter, pinch salt, 100-150ml iced cold water.
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
- Make the pastry, watch my how to make pastry video:
- Cube the butter and add to a food processor along with the flour and salt. Blend for 25 seconds until a breadcrumb texture.
- Pour the mix into a bowl, form a well in the middle and pour in about 1/3 of the water and gently mix with your fingers.
- Keep adding the water until the mix begins to stick together.
- Form a rough ball with your fingers, wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate for 20 mins.
- Remove from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface with a rolling pin until it is about ½ cm thick.
- Line the cake tin (don’t forget to grease the tin first) with the pastry. Trim the excess from the edges. Lay baking parchment in the tin on top of the pastry and fill with baking beans to weight it down.
- Blind bake for 12 minutes, remove the baking beans and parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Roll out the excess pastry you trimmed off to make a lid for the pie.
- Melt the 50g of butter in a frying pan and fry the onions and potato over a medium heat for 5 mins.
- Add the ham, fry until sealed and golden brown at the edges.
- Add the apple and fry for a further two minutes.
- Remove the potato, onion, ham and apple form the pan and set aside.
- Deglaze the pan with the cider, reduce for 5 minutes then add the sage and mustard, reduce for a further three minutes.
- Stir in the cream or cornflour to thicken the sauce.
- Add the apples, onion, potato and ham to the sauce and stir.
- Pour the pie filling into the pastry case. Add the lid and brush with milk or glaze with a beaten egg. If you want to minimise the pastry, use mash potato instead of pastry for a pie top.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Serve hot with mushy peas or cold for a picnic with apple and rhubarb chutney.