It's National Pie Day

Duncan has cooked up a hearty Beetroot, Ale and Lentil Pie to celebrate National Pie Day. Perfect for vegans and omnivores. Who doesn't love a pie on a cold wintery day - especially a snowy one like today.

Read on to find out the origins of pie, how to make Duncans' Beetroot, Ale and Lentil Pie and to discover if 20 blackbirds really were baked in a pie.

Where did pies come from?

Pie-like dishes have been around since the ancient Egyptians. However it was the Romans who had the idea of enclosing a filling inside a sort-of-pastry made from flour and oil. The first pie recipes featured a rye dough filled with goat's cheese and honey.

Pie as we recognise it in England today originated from Northern Europe. Olive oil was scarce to nonexistent in the region so instead, butter and lard were the fats of choice in the harsher and colder climes north of the Mediterranean. The use of these solid fats created a pastry that could be rolled and moulded – and so the true pie was born. The early "pyes" were mainly meat pies. It was a great way to supply food that was easy to store and carry, particularly at sea. It was a much better way of feeding sailors then carrying livestock onboard. They would often dispose of the crust - what a great eco friendly container! Fruit filled pies came about much later. It wasn't until the late 16th century that Queen Elizabeth I was served the first cherry pie. Though the first recorded recipe for apple pie was written in 1381 in England, and called for figs, raisins, pear and saffron, in addition to apples.

Duncan's Five Favourite things about Pie

  • They are the perfect way to celebrate the earths' seasonal bounty and allow you to get creative in the kitchen

  • You can have pie followed by pie! What's not to love - savoury followed by sweet.

  • Perfect for homely dinners with friends. You can do all the prep before they arrive and just put it in the oven to cook

  • They are delicious, cheap, portable and fun to make

  • Zero waste - you can put all sorts of left overs in

Beetroot, Ale and Lentil Pie

Duncan was inspired by his love of hearty local ingredients and one of his favourite tipples - Whitstable Bay Pale Ale .

Beetroot, Ale and Lentil Pie

What you need to make it

- 10 small shallots (halved)

- 1 large garlic clove, peeled

- 2 tbsp tomato purèe

- 75g puy lentils (washed and drained)

- 500g of beetroot

- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

- 275 ml of Whitstable Bay Pale Ale (or another vegan friendly IPA) - 200ml vegetable stock

- 50g of baby spinach

- Dairy - free margarine

- Cornflower

- Dairy free milk (we used oat) - Ready Made shortcrust pastry (vegan)

- Salt and Pepper to taste

How to make it

1. Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan

2. Chop shallots and add to pan cooking at a medium heat until brown

3. Reduce heat, add the garlic and cook for two more minutes

4. Chop your beetroot into chunks

5. Stir in tomato purée, lentils and beetroot.

6. Turn up the heat and cook for five mins

7. Add Whitstable Bay Pale Ale and 100ml of veg stock

8. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins

9. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4

10. Simmer for another 10 mins, add in the remaining stock

12. Season to taste

13. Mix margarine and cornflour into a paste. Add to the mix until a thick gravy-like pie consistency is achieved

14. Stir through the baby spinach for 30 seconds

15. Line your pie tin with shortcrust pastry

16. Spoon your pie mixture into the pie dish

17. Cover with your shortcrust pastry

17. Brush the edges with a little oat milk, crimp (squeeze edges of pastry together).

18. Bake for 20 mins (pastry top will be golden)

19. Serve while piping hot

Serving Tips

  • Why not serve in individual pie dishes

  • Pimp it up with some kale mashed potato as a side

Now put your feet up and enjoy it. Our baby baller clapped when we cut into it and she saw all the deliciousness. Why not share some inspired pie facts while you eat!

Were 20 blackbirds baked in a pie?

To celebrate National Pie Day we have been singing our baby baller one of our favourite nursery songs. "Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye, four and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie. When the pie was opened, the birds began to sign. Now wasn't that a dainty dish to set before a King." In traditional feasts chefs would get very competitive and try to outdo other lords and ladies' cooks. The birds were not actually cooked in the pie but were placed under the removable lid after cooking and revealed before the excited host of the banquet! In fact it wasn't just birds that popped out of pies; rabbits, frogs, dogs and even dwarves made an appearance. Once a whole musical troupe popped out, now that is a dainty dish to see.

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© 2012 by Bangers and Balls