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I made some Priddy Oggies

"Their success depends on a certain skill, just enough to be both a challenge and a pleasure." Jane Grigson

Last week was a 'guru' week - I was supposed to cook something from one of my original cooking gurus - the authors of the books that first got me experimenting in the kitchen. And it was Jane Grigson's turn.

I chose her book Good Things - my favourite - and chose her recipe for Priddy Oggies, because - well as she explains:

"Most of us have a weakness for meat pies. Or should I say for a platonic ideal of meat pies? It's a weakness that has, surprisingly, stood firm despite some of the works of the assembly line, with their yellow-and-white cylinders of denatured egg piercing a mass of ill-seasoned pork. In our optimism (or for convenience) we still buy meat pies. And of course make them. One way and another we eat them by the million." Jane Grigson

Now I had written about them long, long ago on my former website in an article called Priddy oggies, Paul Leyton and Mendip wallfish, where you will find the actual recipe and their history, which briefly is that they are an invention of a man called Paul Leyton who owned a pub in the Somerset village of Priddy - hence the name. 'Oggie' is the Cornish word for pasty I think. So I won't repeat myself on all of that, but it was all quite interesting. But yes we do all like pies don't we?

"A pie ... is an ingenious device whereby bird or beast (or both) develops the finest flavour possible by being cooked in its own juices."

This however, is just a brief recounting of my afternoon of making them and that 'both a challenge and a pleasure' notion she mentions at the top of the page.

Because it was indeed a bit of a challenge and because I managed to do it all it was also a pleasure. Always so satisfying when you achieve something that was a bit difficult, is it not?

The reason I did not make it last week was, that although I had purchased my pork fillet - this is not a poor man's pasty like the Cornish version - when I came to make the pastry late in the afternoon I found that I did not have enough time to make it. Because the pastry making exercise involves quite a bit of resting time - three bursts of it.

It's also a slightly weird way of making pastry. Mix your butter and lard, an egg yolk, some water and grated cheese together. Then put this in the fridge to rest and cool, before adding the flour. I should note here that I had forgotten to buy any lard, so I had to make do with just butter. I should also note that I had to add more water. There was not nearly enough moisture to get it all to compact together as a dough, however crumbly.

You then break this dough into pieces - I did four (I was making half of the (recipe). Roll each piece into a slab and pile them on top of each other, damping each one with water as you go. Press down, break into another four pieces, and repeat, and repeat. I suppose this is a bit similar to puff pastry making. Put in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Remove, squeeze each piece into a sausage shape and roll out to a sort of postcard size. Rest in the fridge for another hour. See what I mean?

And it doesn't end there because you have to beat out your piece of fillet which you have sliced into two, and then cover it with a cheesy, herb, mix on both sides and roll up. And chill that. Well I had actually sliced my meat into four pieces already, which I later found I shouldn't have done, even though I had read through the recipe several times. I don't think it mattered all that much.

Eventually you roll out your pastry a bit thinner - well I did because it wasn't big enough - cut your meat into four, roll some bacon around each roll (I forgot to do it with one of them), press down flat (mostly forgot to do this), and cover pasty like with the pastry. As you can see from this photograph it looks like they should be flat parcels rather than pasty shaped ones. Mine were pasty shaped.

But it doesn't end there! You then bake them until golden - pretty straightforward, and not for that long, but you finish them by frying them on all sides in hot oil. Which is sort of evil, but pretty delicious. As Jane Grigson says:

"The right crust, succulent and crisp, is an important contribution to the success of any pie."

I have to say that all that faff with the pastry was probably worth it, and the filling was tasty but not overwhelmingly so. Overall, probably not worth all that messing about. Unless you want to feel that glow of success and a job well done. And they certainly look good. I did make the full amount of the pastry and froze the other half, so I can make something else with it. Also we only ate two of the four pasties I made so that's another dinner next week.

The complication of it all, however, has produced a more recent recipe from Paul Hollywood which is in his book British Baking, but I gather the pastry is simpler, and also the filling, which is just a mixture of all of those things, plus apples - which would indeed be a tasty addition. Actually if you can read Spanish, you can find the recipe online on a website called La cocina de Babel whose photograph of the finished product this is.

The original recipe dates back to the 1960s when we were all experimenting with new cuisines, new ingredients, new gadgets, new techniques. Today people seem to have less time, and less enthusiasm for things that take a long time. So Paul Hollywood's reinvention might be a good thing, and it does keep the recipe alive.

On the other hand you can bastardise something so much that it really isn't the same thing at all - other than the look - as is demonstrated by these Priddy oggies on a website called kiwitofosi. First of all they are bastardised from an already different recipe - Paul Hollywood's. So Ok the writer was trying to make it vegetarian - maybe even vegan - so a lot of changes had to be made:

"This is another recipe with both meat and lard, so I had to adapt it to my tastes. The lard in the pastry was replaced with vegetable shortening, and I also switched half of the flour to wholemeal. I feel bad about using hard fats sometimes, but they don’t half make for good pastry! The original recipe calls for pork tenderloin, which I replaced with tofu. I was going to fry it off first, but ended up just blotting it so that it was reasonably dry. Figured I had enough calories in the meal without adding extra. The bacon was replaced with a vegetarian equivalent. And, learning from my last experience of Paul-sized pasties, I made these 20 cm in diameter, instead of the 24 cm in the recipe. This means I got seven pasties instead of five. Oh, and I finely diced the onion instead of grating it - who grates an onion?!"

Well it's not that hard to grate an onion - I have done it occasionally. It's actually not that easy to finely chop one. Maybe I should applaud him or her for being so creative, but somehow they should change the name - or at least put Vegetarian or Vegan in front of it. The irony is that although they made them smaller, they were apparently so good they ate more.

It was very warm yesterday - even more so today and tomorrow - so we ate outside as you can see from my opening photograph. I think today it will be just too hot. Simple fish tonight. Nothing complicated.

And I'm tempted to make some 'ordinary' but lovely Cornish pasties with the rest of the pastry sometime soon.


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Mar 09
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Last nights fish (trout) was delicious as were the Paddy Oggies...Wow what a name!

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