Saturday, 10 March 2018

British Pie Week Reci-pie: Pasticcio di Maccheroni (Pasta Pie)

The Ship's Cook once again cooks up a storm in the kitchen during British Pie Week to try out an intriguing new pie flavour we've yet to try before! For all 20+ of the previous reci-pies made by the Ship's Cook, check out our Reci-pie Page!

Grab a pie, take a seat, and let me tell you a tale about a legendary pasta pie!

Many years ago, before I’d joined the Pierateers as Ship’s Cook, a television cookery show introduced me to a pie concept so fantastic that I spent the next decade dreaming about making it. Seriously, I just looked it up and it was an episode of the Hairy Bikers back in 2006. They went to Emilia Romagna in central Italy and made a recipe called “Pasticcio di Maccheroni” inspired by Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. “Pasticcio di Maccheroni” is a pasta pie – how brilliant is that?!

Ever since then I’ve been threatening to make my own pasta pie. Twelve years later and I’ve acquired an English translation of Pellegrino Artusi’s book and a husband who’s part-Italian, and I’ve put a four course dinner and a three-tiered cake in pastry, so this British Pie Week I decided it was finally time to tackle the Pasticcio di Maccheroni…

It didn’t quite go to plan.

For a start, the recipe has a very long list of ingredients that didn’t sound all that appealing. We’ve put a lot of things in pies over the years (pythons and crocodiles, for a start) but I really didn’t fancy chicken gizzards. I also didn’t have a clue where to get them from, and even if I had there was a bigger problem heading my way – some of the worst snow, ice and storms that the UK had seen in years. Getting to the shops proved to be pretty hazardous, but a Pierateer will not be stopped, so I decided I was going to make my very own pasta pie with whatever I could find in my kitchen cupboards.

The Recipe: 

This is probably one of the shortest ingredient lists you’ll ever see:

  • Shortcrust pastry - I only had wholemeal flour, so that’s what I used, and I added some grated parmesan in an attempt to be a bit more Italian.
  • Pasta – I used rigatoni but I see no reason why you couldn’t use spaghetti or any other type of pasta.
  • Pasta sauce - I had some Dolmio Pasta Bake sauce, but you could use whatever you’ve got left in your cupboard after the Beast from the East.
  • Cheese – I used Parmesan.
  • Milk or egg to brush the top of the pie.
The method is just as simple. I rolled out two thirds of the pastry to line the pie dish, then blind baked the base.

Meanwhile, I cooked the pasta and added the sauce. Once the pie base was ready I filled it with pasta and sauce and grated some cheese on top.

Finally, I rolled out the rest of the pastry to make a lid, put it on top of the pasta and crimped the edges to make a proper pie. I didn’t have any eggs so I brushed the top with milk, then baked the pie until pastry was crisp and golden brown.

The Seven Cs:

Colour: A lovely golden brown – I find it a bit harder to tell when wholemeal pastry is cooked so I had to tap it to check it was nice and crisp.

Consistency: A little bit boring, as it was just pastry, pasta and sauce. It needed some meat or vegetables or something to add some more texture.

Capacity: Very full, but if you made this and really squashed the pasta down, or poured a really thick sauce over the top before adding the pie lid, you could probably get even more filling in here.

Chewiness: I’ll admit, this was a bit chewy, but then pasta is meant to have a bit of bite to it so if you’re going to put pasta in a pie then there’s not a lot you can do about the texture.

Content: Not the most exciting of fillings, but it tasted nice. I think Pellegrino Artusi might have been onto something with his much longer list of ingredients - pasta pie needs an interesting sauce (layers of Bolognese or cheese sauce would have been nice, I think).

Cheapness: Really cheap. In my case it was technically free because I had all the ingredients in the cupboard already. It’s also really filling because it’s pasta wrapped in pastry, so you get quite a few servings from one pie.

Condition: Surprisingly good! The first slice fell apart completely but the rest of the pie stayed intact and once it had cooled down a bit the slices held their shape really well – I think pasta pie needs time to set and should be served warm instead of hot.

So in the end, my pasta pie didn’t end up being anything like Pellegrino Artusi’s. It was a lot of fun to make, and it definitely fulfilled some of the key pie criteria of being warming, filling and tasty. Having said that, I’m not altogether sure that pasta needs to be in a pie after all.

Next British Pie Week perhaps I’ll try a pizza pie like SJL…

See what the Pierateers have been up to this British Pie Week in our daily Pie Diary articles (added and updated throughout the week):

Day One – Monday 5th March 2018
Day Two – Tuesday 6th March 2018
Day Three – Wednesday 7th March 2018
Day Four - Thursday 8th March 2018
Day Five - Friday 9th March 2018
Day Six - Saturday 10th March 2018
Day Seven - Sunday 11th March 2018

Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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