Gordon has been cooking and experimenting with food since childhood. He loves coming up with new and tasty culinary creations.
What are Forfar Bridies?
Forfar Bridies are probably the most famous of all Scottish meat and pastry combinations, with the notable exceptions of the Scotch Pie and the Steak Pie. As you would assume from their name, they originate in or near the small town of Forfar, in Angus, on the East Coast of Scotland. They are essentially made from pastry, beef and sometimes onion but the combinations in which these ingredients are used can vary significantly, depending upon the geographical location where the Forfar Bridies are made.
Forfar Bridie Ingredients
All the items you need are basic and widely available
The traditional ingredients used in making a Forfar Bridie are somewhat different to the ones which I have used here. They are simply beef steak or beef mince (ground beef), shortcrust pastry, seasoning and sometimes onion. When I first visited Forfar a number of years ago and fulfilled a culinary ambition of actually tasting a real Forfar Bridie - made in Forfar! - as opposed to the variations I was used to in my native part of Scotland, I am afraid I was more than a little disappointed. So much so that I threw it away, less than a quarter eaten.
I have therefore used puff pastry, minced beef, onion and suet, though I have used vegetable suet as opposed to beef, simply in order to reduce the level of saturated fat in the recipe. The filling is also seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
How to Make the Filling for a Forfar Bridie
Time to get your hands dirty!
In order to make two Forfar Bridies you will need the following:
1/2lb minced beef
1/2lb puff pastry
1/2 small onion
1 tbsp suet
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
The filling is incredibly simple to prepare. All one does is add the beef, onion, suet and seasoning to a bowl or basin and mix thoroughly by hand until they are all well combined as shown in the photograph.
Modern Scottish Recipes
How to Assemble a Forfar Bridie
A little care and time is required at this stage
When the filling has been prepared, it is next time to assemble the Forfar Bridie. This firstly involves cutting the pastry in half and assembling one Forfar Bridie at a time.
A clean surface or board should be dusted lightly with flour and the first piece of pastry rolled out to around a seven or eight inch square, at which stage the pastry should be about a quarter of an inch thick. I then use a large soup plate as a template to cut a circle around seven or eight inches in diameter. I take half of the filling mixture and use it to cover half of the circle, leaving around a half-inch border as shown. This border should then be lightly dampened with milk and the other half of the pastry folded over on top. It is vital to then seal the pastry around the edges very firmly between thumb and forefinger.
The process should then be repeated to form the second Forfar Bridie.
How to Prepare a Forfar Bridie for the Oven
Firstly, let the worked pastry have some resting time
When the Forfar Bridies have been assembled, it is not simply a matter of putting them in to the oven. First and foremost, a slit at least one inch long should be made in the top of each Bridie to allow steam to escape during cooking. Secondly, it is a good idea to allow the pastry to rest for a little while in the fridge, prior to putting them in the oven. Half an hour should be quite sufficient in this respect.
How to Cook Forfar Bridies
Adjusting the oven temperature is crucial
In order to cook a Forfar Bridie, the oven should first be pre-heated to 450F/230C/Gas Mark 8. A little oil should be added to a baking tray and the Forfar Bridies placed on it. Traditionally, Forfar Bridies are not glazed, but I like to glaze them lightly with a little milk. Beaten egg will of course produce an even more golden finish.
The Forfar Bridies should then be placed in to the oven for an initial fifteen minutes. The oven temperature should then be reduced to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 and the Forfar Bridies cooked for another forty to forty-five minutes. Note that if they are getting overly golden, a sheet of aluminium foil should be placed loosely over the top.
The bridies may then be removed from the oven and set aside to rest for fifteen minutes.
How to Serve and Eat a Forfar Bridie
This is of course down much to personal preference
What to serve with a Forfar Bridie is entirely up to your own preferences. The only thing which I would warn you about is that they are fairly substantial and so should not be served with a great deal of accompaniments. They are good with chips but I think that my own personal preference is to serve a Forfar Bridie with baked beans in tomato sauce and a good dollop of HP Sauce.
It is also worth noting that Forfar Bridies can be eaten equally well hot or cold.
Forfar Bridie Serving Suggestions - Take your pick or come up with your own idea
I hope that if you have never tasted a Forfar Bridie, I have now given you the inspiration to make your own and give them a try, whichever version you wish to prepare.
Thank you for your visit to this site and any comments which you have may be left in the space below.
Have You Ever Tasted a Forfar Bridie?
Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on March 09, 2014:
They remind me of meat pies. They also look like "empanadas" which are popular in the Philippines.
Laura Hofman from Naperville, IL on May 30, 2013:
I've never had one, but they sure sound tasty! I will make one soon as I love the ingredients. Cheers!
Gordon N Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on December 09, 2012:
@anonymous: Thanks, Sara. Hope you enjoy your bridies! :)
anonymous on December 08, 2012:
awww deffinitely with beans on top smoking hot with HP brown sauce, that's how I would eat my scotch pies too. Living in the states and good friend sent me this recipe that I will definitely be trying. thank you. =D
anonymous on July 22, 2012:
Im from Blairgowrie area and have really been craving meat pies and forfar bridies recently, can't wait to try this recipe!
anonymous on February 02, 2012:
@anonymous: hi, i miss the arbroath smokies. i found a gaelic shoppe in parma,oh that makes forfar bridies and arbroath smokies that they call abroath toasties. i am gng there 2morro to try them out
anonymous on December 31, 2011:
I am from Arbroath and was brought up on Forfar bridies (elephant ears).
anonymous on December 19, 2010:
My dad used to make these when I was a child. I can not wait to try this recipe.