A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.
Many people know of Pie and Mash and it is eaten widely in both east and south London. The pie used in pie and mash is different to that sold as London Pie and is always sold together with mashed potato and covered in green liquor. In many cases it is the green liquor that many people outside of London find off putting. It is a rather bilious shade of green and looks rather slimy particularly as it is associated with jellied eels which is very much a love or hate product.
Historically the east end of London was always a very poor area with most of the workers labouring in the docks, produce markets and gas works and the women in the "rag trade".or laundry industry. Housing was old and of poor quality and schools and hospitals were a similar low grade. It was a struggle for most families to clothe their children and put food on the table. Those that worked in the meat and vegetable markets always had access to bruised or damaged fruit and vegetables and the lesser cuts and trimmings of meat or unwanted fish from the fish market. Home made pie was always sourced from these scraps, even the mash came from rejected potatoes. Shops that made the pies for sale also used scraps left over from the meat and vegetable markets in London, with the pies then finished off with a golden brown pastry top. This way they could sell them very cheaply to those with very little money and who relied on them for their main meal.
Cold and hot pies, were a cheap fast food eaten in London for more than a hundred years and were sold on the streets from a barrow equipped with a brazier or a tray hung around the neck of a “pie man”, as in the song Simple Simon. Fish pies did not use seawater fish but used silver freshwater eels which populated the River Thames in their millions, but the eels became scarce due to extreme levels of pollution in the 19th century, because of this cheap minced meat became the standard filling instead of fish.
Pie and Mash with parsley liquor:
1½ lb. Lean minced beef (this is what you will often see in some recipes, but it is very unlikely cuts such as this would be used. It would have been indifferent cuts left over from beef, mutton, pork and even chicken, all mixed together and minced.)
1/2 oz Vegetable oil or animal fat trimmings
1 Medium onion peeled and chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, crushed
2 tsp Plain flour
2 tsp Tomato purée or one skinned and de-seeded tomato with seasoning and a little vinegar
1 tsp English mustard
Half tsp Allspice
3 oz Mushrooms finely chopped or any variety surplus from the vegetable market
Half a pint of brown ale from the pub.
14 oz pre-made Puff pastry or shortcrust or suet crust pastry or make your own.
2 tsp Milk or white of 1 egg.
Place the minced beef in the cooking fat in a hot frying pan and brown. Add the onion and garlic and keep the heat on for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and tomato purée/tomato and cook for yet a further 2 minutes. Add the mustard, allspice, mushrooms and brown ale and bring slowly to the boil. Cover with lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Turn the mixture into a 1¾/2 pint pie dish or 4 individual pie dishes. if using the smaller pie dishes, press pastry into each cup to form a base. Roll the pastry out to cover the large pie dish or create individual lids for the smaller dishes. Cut the pastry to fit and press firmly onto the edge of the dish. Brush with milk or egg wash to glaze. Bake at 425 °F for 15 minutes for small pies or 20-25 minutes for the large dish or until the pie crust is golden brown.Sufficient for 4 people.
This is a recipe for the famous green parsley sauce that is served with Pie and Mash.
1 oz Butter or margarine
1 oz Plain flour
½ pint chicken stock (really any stock will do)
4 tsp Fresh parsley, chopped finely
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Option - You can use milk, fish stock or potato juice with a little Marmite instead of water.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook gently for 1 minute. Gradually add the stock and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Add the parsley and seasoning . Serve with pie above and mashed potatoes.
- Jellied Eels and other methods of cooking
Jellied Eels are a delicacy of the East End of London and have been eaten for centuries. They are eaten cold with a chilli dipping sauce and are a rather acquired taste.
- Pigeon Pie - both wartime and Medieval recipes.
Pigeon pie is no longer commonly eaten as people tend to associate Pigeons with some of the tatty specimens we see in town squares. These are nothing like the larger Wood Pigeon which is delicious.
Devon Squab Pie
- Devon Squab Pie - A very old recipe
A very old recipe from Devon and Cornwall where the term "Squab" indicates mutton rather than pigeon. Made from inexpensive ingredients but very tasty.
Woolton vegetarian pie
- Woolton Pie - Wartime vegetarian Pie
This is war-time cooking using cheap basic ingredients to produce tasty vegetarian nutritious meals from carrots and other basic vegetables.
© 2013 Peter Geekie
Delia Martini on August 17, 2020:
I'd eat pie and mash weekly from Manzes in your opening shots as I lived off the market it's in Chapel Street Islington. It's still there, but as there are so many fast foods surrounding it, it's not as popular as once was. For me pie and mash is the best fast food. My fav is Kelly's in Bethnal Green though. Thank you for bringing this to Pintresters attention, great article.
Tina chambers on April 15, 2018:
Love it mum and dad took us to pie and mash shop in Mitcham sill go there now with my kids
Peter Geekie (author) from Sittingbourne on November 05, 2017:
It's amazing how these cheap knock-up meals tasted so good under the right circumstances. I can still remember eating one out of a paper bag on a windswept riverside.
kind regards Peter
Lisa on October 14, 2017:
I was born in east London and pretty much ate Pie n Mash every few days. I'd have Mash and liquor straight from a polystyrene cup in the winter, which the perfect warmer. I don't live there anymore but when I visit family, I make sure I always get my Pie n Mash. No jellied eels though, not a chance!
Peter Geekie (author) from Sittingbourne on March 04, 2015:
Thank you for the comment and compliment.
I must look out your shop when next in London
kind regards Peter
Shzains on March 03, 2015:
Its wonderful recipe while lot of ways to make recipe. i hear from this post great ideas. i would be appreciating. http://armentspieandmash.com
Peter Geekie (author) from Sittingbourne on September 08, 2013:
Thanks for your comments. Even though I'm not from East London I did work there for a while and got to like these. I have to admit I give the green sauce a miss but that's just a personal preference.
kind regards Peter
Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on September 07, 2013:
These I know are delicious. We fry the pies and make a white sauce (gravy, really), but the basic idea is pretty much the same. Never had one with eels (again, probably because they weren't common here.) but fish, poultry, beef and vegetarian are all great!
I am putting his on my list of recipes to try. I am going to try the green sauce!
Peter Geekie (author) from Sittingbourne on June 09, 2013:
Thanks for your comments. This is a strange meal which under normal circumstances I wouldn't touch, however in the early hours of a cold London morning by the river it goes down a treat.
kind regards Peter
Mary Craig from New York on June 09, 2013:
I have to say I'd much prefer this without the eels ;) Otherwise, it sounds tasty.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.