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Growing up in Lagos few things excited me like going to the market with my mother to do the big family shop in Balogun Market for two reasons: ofada rice in leaves and Mr Biggs meat pie. If you have not eaten Mr Biggs meat-pie then you have not lived. If you know, you know and if you don’t know ask a Lagosian. Whenever I go back home it is one of three things I look forward to eating, the third being Gala. I’m often worried that the meat pie would not be the same but for some reason, by some force of magic, everything is the same as I remember it and it breaks back some of the fondest memories of my childhood.
There is no meat pie like a Mr Bigg’s meat pie, its succulent, big, meaty, the pastry is just right. A semi-circle of perfection.
As with most people in isolation, I have taken to recreating childhood memories and playing chef in the kitchen; cooking is not something I enjoy, by the way; I’m a baker with an incredible sweet tooth. Still I decided to try my hands at making a meat pie the way I grew up eating them. Perfect. LOL. don’t @ me. No, my pies are nothing like Mr Bigg’s but its the memories induced by the nostalgia that counts.
So here’s a crack at making Nigerian meat-pie.
- 6 cups of plan flour
- 3 large eggs
- 4 sticks of butter cubed
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion: the light one is too sweet
- 500g 12% fat organic minced meat
- 1 large potato or 2 medium potatoes
- 1 large carrot, cubed small as possible
- 1 ata rodo (scotch bonnet peppers) chopped finely as possible
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp all purpose seasoning
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 cube of knorr chicken maggi/bouillon cubes
- sprinkle of black pepper- as much of as little as you like
- In a large bowl mix together the flour and butter until it is broken down to crumbs but with some clumps of butter still visible. Don’t do this with a mixer, use your hands.
- Satisfied with your dough, dig a hole in the middle and put in the beaten eggs; mix together quickly with a fork to make sure it is well combined before using your hand to knead together into a dough ball. Make sure not to over knead, you’ll know just when its enough. If you don’t stop when it feels like you have been doing this too long, you should have a well combine dough ball.
- Now cover the bowl with clingfilm and place in the fridge for a half hour whilst you work on your filling.
- Peel and cube your potatoes; wash and put them to one side.
- In a hot wide cast iron (if you have it) pan; any old will do, and make sure the pan is hot before pouring in the oil in medium heat.
- After about five minutes pour in the onions and fry until translucent
- Toss in the chopped ata rodo and mix it in with the onions until you get a kick of an aroma from it
- Pour in the minced meat and mix it in with the onions and pepper. Fry until it is well done, it will go from pink to cooked… basically there should be no pink of the meat.
- Once this is cooked, season the mixture with all the things: maggi, salt, thyme, all purpose seasoning, curry powder and black pepper; these are just my favourite types of seasoning but go ham and do whatever you want to do with your mix. Its a free country here.
- After the seasoning has settled, put in the diced potatoes, let it cook for about five minutes this is to only soften it slightly.
- Go in with the carrots and let it cook for a further three minutes, Make sure you have incorporated everything and the mixture is completely well seasoned.
- We good? Okay good. Now pay close attention because this part is tricky
- Pour one cup of water or just enough to cover your mixture and let is cook for a bit. Until the water is visibly reduced.
- Sprinkle 1.5 table spoons of flour on it and then mix really quickly; the mixture will thicken and the water will be completely incorporate but the mixture will remain moist; that is a gross word. truly.
- Let it cook for two minutes; no more.
- You’re ready.
The Pies: this is the part I loathe the most, because its monotonous, repetitive and just bleurgh! but its gotta be done and done quickly we don’t want the dough to be too warm.
- Take your dough from the fridge, cut it into half then a quarter then eighths until you have the right amount of dough for the right amount of pies you wish to make. You’ll either cut too little or too much not to worry.
- Take one dough pie, gently mold it into a disc with your hand, gently flatten it and then roll it out with a rolling pin; about 1mm thick: it should be thick enough so that when you fold it over it doesn’t fall apart.
- Place a round bowl, face down over the flat dough and cut around it into a perfect circle: put the excess in the bowl of pies, you’ll use it later.
- Take ONE table spoon of the mince beef filling and place in the centre of the dough.
- Now, gently fold one side of the dough over to the other side. I don’t have a YouTube channel so I cannot show you but its simple enough; fold one part of the other; easy. Making sure to close the edge with your finger.
- Seal this with a fork by making ridges with the thongs along the edge and place on the prepared baking tray
- You get to do this step until all your pies are done or all your mince mixture is done, whichever happens first- see! monotonous!
- Once done… yes there is more! ugh! but I promise its worth it.
- Using a fork poke holes on each pie because you want to give the heat room to breath and properly circulate around the pie
- Whisk one egg and with a baking brush (is that what its called?) and coat each and every pie with the egg. Don’t worry for those of us who are not eggies you don’t taste or smell it.
- That’s it, All done.
- Pop in the oven for 35 minutes or until a nice golden brown… et voila.
- Note: this can be refrigerated for a couple days at least but trust me, you won’t, you’ll eat it all.