Serves 4 with a side of crusty bread.
This was a firm favourite of the Ball family cooked up on the farmhouse stove. It could not be simpler, and is not really a pie, more of an open tart, but without the crust and a little more moist… and it’s cooked in a skillet. But Mrs Ball called it a pie through the 60’s, to the 90’s, so it’s a pie.
The key to this pie is the potatoes and obviously the bacon. Mrs Ball always used Desiree or Marris Piper as first choice as these have both floury texture whilst taking in the flavour and keeping their sliced shape. The bacon was always local, thick cut middle bacon with the rind in place though your favourite will work including smoked streaky, as long as you are generous with the white pepper.
1 ½ kg Maris Piper or Desiree Potatoes sliced to 5mm
2 onions sliced
2 Bay leaf
4 large rashers thick cut back bacon
425mm chicken stock
Salt and white pepper to season.
A knob of butter
Oil a wide skillet or heavy bottomed frying pan.
Slice the potatoes and onions in 5mm slices.
Place a layer of potatoes to line the base of the skillet, then a layer of onions then a good sprinkling of white pepper. Lay the bacon rashers on top with the bay leaves, followed by another layer of onions then the last of potatoes to top off with some more white pepper. Pour in the chicken stock to just cover the potatoes and dab with butter.
Place the skillet with a lid on a medium heat and bring to a simmer then turn right down to a very gentle ‘plop’. Leave the lid slightly ajar or it will boil over. Cook for 30 minutes with the last 10 with the lid off. By this time the top layer of potatoes should be slightly drying out, if not you can place under a grill to semi-crisp up. Ideally the liquid should all be incorporated into the pie. This takes practice. The final ‘best bit’ is getting it just crisping on the base like a great paella. Season to taste as the chicken stock should have salted the potatoes sufficiently.
If moist and loose with a sauce this is best served in a wide bowl, otherwise a deep plate. Serve with chunks of your favourite bread and lashings of butter.
Obviously it will taste better when prepared wearing a Meccanica hand-made apron available from our on-line store www.meccanica.cc