No one really knows why this Shropshire speciality is called a Fidget Pie (or sometimes a Fitchett Pie). It was once a heartening farm supper dish to welcome the harvesters home from the fields. In lean times it was made with vegetables only; when times were better, with gammon; and for a special treat, lamb chops from the scrag end of the neck were put in, one for each person. Its characteristic apple, onion and meat mixture is not unlike the Gloucestershire Squab Pie.
Fidget Pie Recipe
Serves 4. You need a 1.1 Litre pie dish
- 450g potatoes (peeled and thickly sliced)
- 350g gammon (both the rind and fat removed) diced
- 4 large lamb chops (trimmed)
- 2 large onions (peeled and sliced)
- 3 large cooking apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 275 ml chicken stock
see this masterclass on making shortcrust pastry
- 225g plain flour (plus extra for dusting work surface)
- 50g butter (cut into cubes)
- 50g lard (cut into cubes)
- pinch sea salt
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- 1 egg yolk (to glaze)
- a little milk
For the shortcrust pastry: see this masterclass on making shortcrust pastry. In a mixing bowl sift in the flour and add the sea-salt. Take the butter and lard and rub this lightly into the flour with your finger-tips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and mix in the beaten egg to bring the flour mixture into a pastry dough which is silky and smooth. Add a little milk or flour as needed if wet or dry. Cover and place the pastry dough in the fridge to chill for twenty minutes.
For the pie filling: Put a layer of sliced potatoes in the bottom of a buttered 1.1 litre pie dish. Cover this with a layer of gammon, a layer of sliced onion, and then a layer of sliced apple. Sprinkle well with the sugar and salt and pepper. Repeat these layers until the pie dish is full, ending with a layer of gammon. Add the lamb chops to the pie, arrange them on top of the first layer of potatoes, before adding the other layers. Sprinkle with thyme, and season well. Pour in just enough stock to cover the filling.
Brush the rim of the pie dish with a little milk. Pinch off a small amount of pastry, roll it out to about 5mm thick in a long rectangle. Cut out a few 2cm wide pastry strips, which you place length-ways, running all the way around the pie dish rim, half-in and half-out, merging them together where needed. Brush the pastry strips with a little milk.
Preheat the oven 180C
Roll out the rest of the pastry to make a fairly thick pie crust, about 5 mm thick. Then cut out a pie lid (bigger than the pie dish) and cover the top of the dish, sealing them fully to the pastry strips, giving it a crimp. Trim off any excess pastry. Cut a small steam hole and brush over the top of the pie pastry with the beaten egg yolk.
Place the pie dish on a baking tray and bake the Fidget Pie in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes at 180C, until the pastry is brown. Then turn the heat down to about 160C and cook for a further 55 minutes. If the top seems to be browning too much, cover the pastry with foil. Once baked, and the pie filling is piping hot, remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and then serve with some steamed vegetables and a mustard mash.