The worst bit of this recipe is probably the pink fingers you will get from peeling the raw beetroot. The final result is one of the most colourful pies you will come across. I say pie, but this recipe works equally well as a stew or casserole, omitting the pastry layer. It is relatively quick to make but impressive enough to serve to guests: just check first that they are beetroot lovers as not everyone is. They might, of course, be prepared to have their minds changed, especially if their only previous experience of beetroot has been in jars pickled in vinegar, which is definitely love it or hate it. I am trying to do my bit to try to redress the beetroot’s poor reputation, so on this site you will find a number of recipes which involve neither pickling or vinegar, the only exceptions to date being Raw Beetroot Salad and my most commented upon post, Beetroot Chutney. However, for a vinegar free beetroot experience, why not try Rosy Potato Salad, Rosy Roast Root Vegetables, Moroccan Style Beef Stew with Oranges & Beetroot … or even Beetroot Seed Cake!
The basic recipe comes from Complete Mince Cookbook by Bridget Jones. It is little changed from the original apart from the addition of a few herbs and the suggestion that a small amount of red wine vinegar, for a similar flavour, could be added in place of red wine if it is not available. (I often reduce the wine a little for everyday meals anyway, hence the two quantities.) Please don’t think that this is will in any way add a pickled taste but it does enhance the flavour of the dish beautifully. Use either minced pork, as in the original, or substitute chopped pork. Top with shortcrust pastry as in the recipe or use puff pastry instead. As I said earlier it can be made without a crust, just stir the soured cream into the stew just before serving instead of spooning it into the hole. If soured cream is not available then sour some cream with a little lemon juice (a tip I read somewhere else a year or so ago) or substitute either yoghurt or crème fraîche.
Pork & Beetroot Pie
12ozs shortcrust pastry (see Basic Recipe: Pastry) or 1 packet of puff pastry
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & chopped
450g/1lb uncooked beetroot, peeled & diced
450g/1lb minced or chopped pork
1tbsp mixed herbs
1tbsp chicken stock concentrate, powder or 1 cube
300ml/¼-½pint red wine
1-2tbsp red wine vinegar and a little water as required
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
¼pint soured cream to serve
To serve: chopped parsley (optional for casserole)
1. Preheat oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for casserole or 200oC/400oF/Gas 6 for pie.
2. Melt the butter and olive oil together in a pan and cook the onion and the beetroot together until the onion is soft but not brown.
3. Stir in the pork and fry briefly stirring to break up the meat if it is minced. Add the stock and stir in. Season to taste.
4. Mix in the wine (or wine vinegar and a little water – more can be added later if needed). Bring to the boil and remove from the heat.
5. If this is being served as a casserole then transfer the contents to a casserole dish and place in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Alternatively cover the saucepan and leave it on a low heat to continue to cook for at least 30 minutes. Check seasoning, stir in a swirl of soured cream (but do not completely combine) and scatter with chopped parsley before serving.
6. The pie version has a lid but no pastry underneath. Roll out the pastry until it is just a little larger than the circumference of the pie dish. Fill the dish with the pork and beetroot mixture. From the leftover pastry cut a strip and place it round the edge of the pie dish. Lift over the lid and using a small round cutter (about 2.5cm/1inch in diameter) cut a hole in the middle of the pie. Pinch the edges of the pastry together with the edge strip in a fluted design, using fingers or a fork, and trim any overlapping pastry to size.
7. From the remaining pastry cut a circle of pastry about 3.5cm/1½inches in diameter and use it to loosely cover the hole in the pie. If needed any remaining pastry can be used for decoration. The pastry can be brushed with beaten egg to give a golden finish or a little milk before baking.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes.
9. Just before serving carefully remove the circle of pastry from the middle of the pie. Using a funnel pour in the soured cream and then replace the circle and serve the pie immediately.
10. Serve with creamed or small new potatoes and a simply cooked green vegetable.