Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Granny's meat and potato pie.

My granny was a really wonderful woman, running her household like clockwork, making wonderful meals out of very few, cheap ingredients and never wasting anything. She would be knitting in her spare time and was always doing various different night school classes to learn a new skill. I remember her showing me a small bookcase she had made at woodworking class. She painted, did crochet, wonderful embroidery and would never be found being idle.

I would go around there for my tea every Friday evening and while my grandad read the paper my granny would tirelessly play games with me, she loved card games, but would learn anything new, so we added cludo, game of life and ker-plunk to the game repertoire.

Her life ran like clockwork, literally. Lunch was on the table at 12 precisely and would be a hot cooked lunch. Tea would be on the table at 5 and would consist of sandwiches and home made cake with a cup of tea. They would have an apple at 7 and a mug of hot chocolate at 9 before bed. Not many of us nowadays are able to run meals with this much precision because of working hours and commuting (my grandad, when he was working, owned a garage nearby and so was able to come home for his lunch and tea).

She was the original make do and mender.

Now my biggest treat of all when I was growing up was her meat and potato pie. I absolutely loved this, more than any other food and she would make it for me if I was ever able to get there at lunchtime instead of tea, so it was mainly school holidays that I would have it. When I was older I got her to show me how she made it so that I could do it myself and although it was a few years still before I left home and had to start to cook for myself, I stored away the knowledge of exactly how it was made. Now, I think I am the only one left in the family who knew her exact method and this last week when I was visiting my parents I made it for my mum. It is strange that somehow she never had known how to make it and was delighted when I presented it to her.

So now I am back in London and feeling a bit stressed with house moving issues, I decided to make myself one last night and thought that I would share the method. It is cheap and cheerful and real comfort food.

Granny's Meat and Potato Pie


a pack of mince beef (500g)
450ml beef stock (made from a cube in my case)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
3 largish potatoes, peeled and chopped to bite sized pieces (the sort that don't collapse too much when cooked)
250g (ish) of frozen mixed veg
Pastry (either home made shortcrust or shop bought shortcrust if you can't be bothered - sometimes I do either depending on how lazy I am feeling)

The pie can be baked in a large casserole dish with the crust covering or sometimes I make 2 or 3 smaller ones which can be frozen.


Chop and fry the onion until soft. Add the mince and fry to colour. add the potatoes, the quantity should look an equal mix of potato to meat so adjust to your own taste.
Add the beef stock and if necessary, top up with some hot water so the potatoes are not sticking out too much. cover and simmer for about 15/20 mins. Season well with salt.
When the potatoes are all but cooked, add the veg and remove the lid, crank up the heat so that most of the liquid can get boiled away, and it should hopefully leave you with a pie filling that is moist, but not wet, thick and lovely. Check the seasoning and add more if you think it needs it.

Place the filling into a dish or two, depending on how many and what size you are making and having rolled out the pastry to accommodate this, place the pastry on top, putting two holes in and brushing with egg or milk. Place in a 200degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

This particular recipe and quantity has made enough for 5 portions, so as you can see, it is very economical.

My granny had other wonderful recipes that have been lost in the midst of time, I have never tasted biscuits as nice or a sponge cake as moist. If only they had all been written down.


  1. I really feel sorry for people that dont have a good relationship with their "gran"...

    I still miss mine after thirty years of her passing

  2. I homed straight in on this post when I saw the Meat & Potato pie recipe. My first thought when I saw the wedding photo was "OMG, he stole my Mum"
    Your Gran is the spitting image of my her and Mum is also renown for her meat & potato pie.
    The pie looks lovely, don't forget to write down all the recipes that you learn to pass on to your grandchildren.

  3. That looks wonderful. I didn't see either of my gran's as we were always moving around, but the odd occasion I did visit, my mothers mother made wonderful food - mince beef suet roll (a bit like a spotted dick pudding) was gorgeous and her gravy was superb.

  4. They sure knew how to cook in those days datacreata!
    Maybe we are distantly related Christine!

  5. Oh my goodness guess what we had for tea yesterday - meat and potato pie with the rest in the fridge for today's tea. We've swapped meals around and have lunch at 12 and tea (cooked meal) at 5. Perhaps you'd better call me Gran! Your gran looks beautiful in your photos.
    Love from Mum
    PS You could call me beautiful too, if you like!!!!!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely post with everyone.
    I loved my Gran as well. One of my fond memories is of her placing a 2/6 in my hand as I left without Grandad knowing, he would not have approved.
    I also remember my Grandad Had to lock the cheese in a cupboard as she loved cheese and would have scoffed the lot. lol.

  7. I'll call you beautiful if you like mum, not that I know what you look like, I am sure you are!
    Thanks Briony, I love my old black and white photos of family from way back. Even those I never knew.

  8. Wow meat and potato pie - my grandma used to make that for us - and her pastry always tasted better than the pastry my mum made (didn't tell her that though!). She also made a wonderful cheese and onion pie - does anyone have a recipe for that?

  9. I'd love to have a go at a cheese and onion pie too simple miss. Share it if you find a good recipe!

    Isn't it funny how, when we are bombarded with tv chefs of varying qualities, access to any ingredients we could ever want, making food from any country we could think of, we all get excited about good old fashioned dishes that our parents and grandparents were making long before Nigella told us we should be more ambitious. Someone should start a 'cheap-comfort-food-like-our-grannys-used-to-make' blog that we could all leave recipes on.......

  10. hello
    what a wonderful post. my grandmother made also the meal of the world.
    your pie looks very delicious.....thanks for the recipe.
    have a nice week,
    blessings regina

  11. What a lovely post, fabulous photos and a great looking pie! My Grandma was a wonderful cook too. We didn't see her often as Dad was in the army , but she did come to look after us when my mum had my younger sister, and we sometimes visited in the holidays. She was the most wonderful baker but never owned a set of scales,using either a cup or doing things by eye. I still have a little Be-ro baking book that she sent me when I got engaged in 1982 and I use it regularly and treasure it. You are right about how good 'old-fashioned' food is. I still cook a lot of old fashioned dishes - they are usually the most economical, tasty and nutritious.

  12. Grannies knew how to be frugal, maybe that`s what attracted us to their way of cooking. We all loved our gran`s cooking. My gran had an imense knowledge of foraging for wild mushrooms, the hedgerow bounty and wild herbs. She was a walking farmacy when it came to the use of natural remedies. Some of her knowledge stuck in my mind, evenso I was very young when she passed away. Remembering it all recalls some nostalgic days that I would love to have back again. Back then, gran`s would always have time for us, didn`t they? Life run at a slower pace and was savoured far more. We should all strive to savour
    time and moments that make great memories. Preserving and recording our recipes is one way we can pass on our knowledge to others. My daughter and daughter in law will receive hand written recipe books from me this Christmas.

  13. What a wonderful dedication to your Grandma.

    She sounds like an amazing woman.

    Sft x

  14. One of my all time favourites. You were very blessed to have such a loving and beautiful Granny♥ A wonderful post to read and I loved the photos, many thanks for sharing Dan. Linda

  15. Great post!

    I only had one grandparent - my Nan, and shared her with 12 other cousins and siblings. She was very fierce and lived in a wooden summer house on a desolate hill miles from anywhere. She had no electricity or running water - water came from the spring fed into an old sink. She cooked on calor gas or coal (then cheap) kept chickens, a well stocked veggie & fruit plot and was extremely frugal. She inspired me and of all her grandchildren, I'm the only one who follows her example, although I'll never be as frugal as she was! Her meat pie was fabulous, although it was probably made from rabbit her dog had caught, and flavoured by the wild garlic and mushrooms she gathered. She died when I was only 10 so I never got to really talk and ask her the questions about frugal living - I was at the bottom of the pecking order - but I like to think she would be pleased at my feeble efforts!

  16. Thanks for sharing your gran :) that was a lovely read, I love stories about past generations, that wedding photo is brilliant too :)

  17. Thank you for sharing your memories, really lovely. Your pie looks lovely and I shall be trying your grans recipe.

  18. My mum used to make the best meat and potato pie she doesn't cook much anymore though. I am going to try and cook meat and potato pie for dinner tonight. Mum is coming for dinner so I will see if I get the seal of approval. wish me luck