Pie and mash was once a cheap meal for the poorer classes in London’s East End. In the 1800s, street vendors hawked eels from the Thames estuary and sold pies filled with off-cuts of meat served with mashed potatoes and liquor.
Celebrating British Food & Cooking
Pie mash and licquor now seems to be gaining a new following all over the south and southeast of England with new shops opening particularly on the coast.
They will have a hard act to follow because many Londoners have had the real deal from the likes of Manzes and Goddards who have been serving up pie and mash since 1891.
For the uninitiated, liquor is nothing to do with booze; it’s a parsley sauce made with the water that the eels were cooked in.
I moved to Islington in central London when I met my wife in 1979. She is a true cockney and introduced me to this local delicacy. I like the pie, mash and licquor but definitely not the eels, yuk 🤢.
She will douse the contents of the plate in malt vinegar, generously covered in ground white pepper, it has to be white, and then devour the lot.
If you would like to try this cockney treat then my recipe for a family-sized pie version will give you a taste of this classic meal.
Cockneys are Londoners born within earshot of the church bells at St Mary le Bow.
For a real East End of London feast add some warmed jellied eels to the plate!
Pie, mash and eels have an interesting history, you can find out more here.
Pie and mash
For the Pie
- 500 g Minced beef
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 tbsp Plain flour
- 250 ml Rich beef stock
- 1 Herb stock pot
- 1 tbsp (affiliate link)Worcester sauce
- 1 roll Puff pastry
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Egg beaten
For the Mash
- potatoes Maris Piper, peeled
- 1 Egg yolk
For the Licquor
- 4 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 25 g Butter
- 25 g Plain flour
- 300 ml Fish stock
- 1 tsp Malt Vinegar optional
For the Pie
- In a medium sized pan that has a lid heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the diced onion and chopped garlic.
- Sweat the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until they are soft.
- Add the herb stock pot and stir. Add the minced beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and combine with the onions and garlic.
- When the mince starts to brown, stir in the Worcester sauce and cook for 1 minute.
- Sprinkle the flour over the meat and mix in well and cook for a further minute.
- Gradually add the rich beef stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer, place the lid on the pan and cook for 20 minutes, giving it a stir quite often so it doesn't stick.
- Once the gravy has reduced by half and thickened, remove from the heat and allow to cool down.
- Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
- Put the mince mixture into a suitable pie dish, brush the edges of the dish with some of the beaten egg and lay the puff pastry over. Press the pastry firmly to the pie dish and trim the edges to remove the excess pastry.
- Make a cross cut through the pastry in the centre to allow any steam out and glaze the pastry with the remaining beaten egg.
- Put the pie on a baking tray and bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
For the Mash
- Chop the potatoes into 2.5cm chunks.
- Add the potatoes to a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Add a knob of butter, a splash of milk, salt and pepper to taste, and the egg yolk.
- Mash the potato until smooth and creamy with no lumps.
For the Licquor
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, mix well and cook over a low heat stirring constantly for 1 minute.
- Gradually add the fish stock, slowly at first stirring constantly and bring to the boil.
- Add the parsley, seasoning and optionally the vinegar.
- A portion of the pie, with some mash, liberally covered with licquor served with white pepper and malt vinegar.