During WW1, everyone in Britain was asked to eat only “what you need and not what you like and as much as you like”. This was realised in the form of rationing (a limit per person on food essentials like milk and eggs) and a push for everyone to “Dig for Victory” by using their gardens to grow vegetables for the dinner table.
Potatoes were a key part of the wartime diet, providing low cost energy and a great source of Vitamin C as well as iron, B1, B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.
During the Great War, the British Government released recipes to help Brits come up with wholesome, frugal family meals, many of which relied heavily on potatoes.
The original Woolton pie (named after Food Minister Lord Woolton) was made thus:
“Take 1lb. each diced potatoes, cauliflower, swede and carrots, three or four spring onions—if possible, one teaspoonful of vegetable extract and one tablespoonful of oatmeal. Cook all together for ten minutes with just enough water to cover. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking. Allow to cool; put into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and cover with a crust of potato or wheatmeal pastry. Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely browned and serve hot with a brown gravy.”
My version, made to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day (8th May) is similar, making use of plenty of potatoes and other nutritious veg.
It’s topped with a pastry made from leftover mashed potato. It’s still a very pretty plain dish, as you’d expect given it’s history. However, since we’re free from rationing in 2015, I’ve spiced things up with some curry powder in the filling and turmeric in the pastry, which gives a bit more flavour and a gorgeous colour.
I also used olive oil rather than butter or lard in the pastry to keep things as healthy as possible. Here’s how to make it.
- 450g (1lb) carrots
- 225g (1/2 lb) turnip
- 450g (1 lb) parsnips
- 450g (1 lb) cauliflower
- 450g (1/2 lb) charlotte potatoes
- 1 stock cube
- 2 tbsp oats
- 4 spring onions
- 1½ tbsp curry powder
- salt and pepper
- 675g (1½ lb) leftover mashed potato (Maris Piper or Desiree)
- 450g (1 lb) plain flour
- 1 tbsp tumeric
- 1 tbsp milk
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Peel and dice the carrots, turnips and parsnips and add to a large pan.
- Split the cauliflower into florets and add to the pan.
- Half the potatoes and add to the pan, no need to peel.
- Add the stock cube, oats, finely chopped spring onions, curry powder to the pot and top up with just enough water to touch the top of the veg - you don't want to drown them.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
- Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper and leave to cool at little. If the broth is still watery, pour off some of the excess - you don't want soggy pastry.
- Season well, then transfer your filling to a pie dish (I used the same dish).
- Preheat the oven to 200C/390C (180C/355F fan assisted).
- To make the pastry, mix/rub/blend the flour, turmeric and olive oil together in a large bowl until you have an even crumb.
- Add the mashed potato and cut through with a knife until combined, then work into a ball. Aim to handle the pastry as little as possible. If you overwork your pastry it will become rubbery.
- On a lightly floured surface, gently roll the pastry out into a round big enough to cover the pie dish.
- Lay over the pie filling, crimp the edges with your fingers and trim with a sharp knife.
- Brush with the milk and bake for around 25 minutes until golden brown.
This is a commissioned post for The Potato Council. Find out more at http://www.lovepotatoes.co.uk/potato-pete-back