A traditional pie mash and liquor recipe. That looks and tastes just like the one served in the East End London pie and mash shops.
We show you every step of the way how to make pie mash and liquor from scratch. Using simple ingredients, the best cheap British meal.
This high-calorie proper cockney dinner will become a new family favourite recipe.
How to make pie mash and liquor?
Our slideshow below gives you step by steps to cook pie mash and liquor like the East end London shops.
Continue reading for more advice and the history of this nostalgic cockney classic meal. To get started straight away, go check out the recipe card. All the ingredients you need and how to make it.Jump to Recipe
We have been working on this homemade pie mash and liquor recipe for a while now, to get it right! We are so excited to share it with you. So you can make your own pie mash and liquor at home.
Pies were originally sold by piemen on the streets of London in Victorian times. They would be filled with eels, one of the only fish that survived the polluted River Thames. They were cheap and plentiful!
From the 1850's pie and mash moved off the streets and into Victorian shops. Around this time, they started making more desirable, but still relatively cheap minced beef pies. They served the pie with mashed potato and liquor.
The mince beef pies soon become more popular then the eel version.
The meat pies mash and liquor were a great high calorie, cheap meal for the working class, who would need all the calories they could get after a hard day's work.
They didn't stop the eels though, the liquor sauce was made from stewed eel stock and fresh parsley.
The pie shop would also sell stewed eels, jellied eels and live eels to be cooked at home.
Over the years the two most succesful families to run London's pie and mash shops are the Manzes and Cookes, who still have family run shops open today.
Ingredients for pie and mash
The pie has two different types of pastry a suet pastry base and a shortcrust pastry lid. When rolling out make sure to keep the suet base big enough to fit into the pie tins and the shortcrust lids big enough to overlap the tin.
The shortcrust pastry lid for the mince beef pie should be be thinner than the suet pastry bottom.
There will be extra suet pastry left, use it to help shape the pie base into the greased tins.
Pie mince beef filling
Inside the pie is a simple easy to make minced beef and stock filling which also has browning in to give the pies a deep meaty colour.
Add this mince beef filling into the pastry base.
Wet the edges down very well before placing lids on top.
When placing the pie lid on top stretch it over the sides and push to seal the edges before trimming away excess pastry.
Seal the top of pie with milk, or just water will work too.
The mash served with the minced beef pie and liquor is a simple plain mashed potato with no milk or butter added.
What is liquor?
The most asked question from people who see this dish, is what is the green sauce served on pie and mash?
Liquor is what makes this meal so good! Our liquor sauce is made from fish stock, flour and parsley.
In the past, it was made out of the stock from the stewed eels because they were cheap, but it is now cheaper to buy fish stock cubes instead!
How to serve pie mash and liquor?
Serve up one pie per person with 2 scoops of mash and drizzle the liquor all over the top!
Pie and mash shops sometimes still serve them with jellied eels too, we picked some up from Tesco's.
The final must-have is a splash of vinegar, use malt vinegar or if you want it like a real East End or Essex pie mash and liquor shop, make yourself some of our Chilli Vinegar to go with it.
I have included some FAQ's below the recipe card, if you have any more questions please comment and we will get back to you asap.
Pie Mash and Liquor
This recipe will make enough for 4 individual portion pie tins measuring 16cm x 12cm x 3.5cm deep
Mince beef filling
- 500 g Beef mince 20% We find frozen beef breaks down better than fresh - 5% or 12% mince will work too.
- 500 ml Beef stock Knorr beef stock pots are the best.
- ½ tsp Sarson's Browning see blog post for substitute
Pie Base - Suet Pastry
- 250 grams Plain flour
- 150 grams Suet
- 5 grams Baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 125 ml Cold water
Pie Lid - Shortcrust Pastry
- 150 grams Plain flour
- 75 grams Cold butter cut into small cubes plus extra butter to grease pie tins
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp Water
- splash of milk to glaze the pastry lid
Liquor - Parsley Sauce
- 900 ml Fish Stock Use 2 x Knorr fish stock cubes (not the stock pot)
- 5 tbsp Plain flour
- 180 ml Cold water (¾ cup)
- 2 Handful's Fresh parsley finely chopped
- Black Pepper & Salt to taste
Mash Potato - Keep it simple, don't add milk or butter.
- 1.5 kg White Potatoes Chopped
- OPTIONAL to serve- Jellied eels
Mince beef pie filling
- Brown off the mince in a pan over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, breaking down into small pieces as it browns. (If using leaner mince you may need a bit of oil to prevent sticking)
- Add beef stock, bring to a gentle boil then turn the heat off.
- Add browning, stir through add black pepper and salt to taste
- Leave to cool whilst making pastry. Preheat the oven at 180°C fan / 200°C conventional / 400°F/ Gas mark 6
Pie base - Suet pastry
- Sieve flour into a mixing bowl.
- Add a pinch of salt, suet and baking powder.
- For best results use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.Slowly combine the ingredients togetherOr use a wooden spoon to combine ingredients together.
- Increase speed and add cold water a little at a timeIf using a spoon switch to your hands for easier mixing, try to work quickly you don't want the heat from your hands to ruin the pastry
- Once all water has been added and the dough has formed into a ball. Remove from the bowl on to a well-floured worktop. Knead for a minute little until soft and pliable.
- Divide the suet dough into 4, which should be about 100 grams each (this is enough to cover 4 pie tins measuring 16cm x 12cm). You will have some left still which you will use later to shape the pastry in the tins, so don't throw it away!
- Roll out until 3 cm bigger all the way around the tin, repeat for all 4. Use plenty of flour whilst rolling to prevent sticking to pin or worktop. Keep to one side.
Pie lid - Shortcrust pastry
- Sift out flour into a mixing bowl (you can use the same one from before).
- Add cubed cold butter and salt use paddle attachment on medium speed to combine into breadcrumb texture.Or use your fingers to quickly rub butter into the flour, dont handle too much as the heat from your hands can melt the butter.
- Add 1 tablespoon at a time of cold water to form a dough. Remove from the bowl and onto a floured worktop.
- Knead into the flour, then divide into 4 pieces, they should weigh about 60g each.
- Roll out until bigger than the pie dish, you want it to overlap the tin slightly. It will roll out thinner than the base.
- It will roll out thinner than the base. See image top is the shortcrust lid and the bottom is the thicker base.
- Place your potatoes into a large pan of cold water. Bring to a gentle boil. cook for about 20 minutes. Continue making the pies and come back to the mash later!
- Once potatoes are soft enough, drain and put back into the pan to mash until smooth. Traditionally mash for this recipe does not have any butter or milk added as the liquor adds a rich enough flavour.
Time to make the mince beef pies!
- The 4 sheets of shortcrust should be rolled out smaller and thinner for the pie lid.The 4 sheets of suet pastry should be rolled out bigger and thicker for the pie base.
- Use butter to grease the tins well, so pies are easy to remove when cooked.
- Place the larger suet pastry base over the tin, use the ball of leftover pastry to gently push the pastry into the tins without tearing it.
- Add the minced beef mixture equally into the 4 prepared suet pastry bases, pour any remaining stock in with them too.
- Get a bowl of water and wet down the pastry edges with A LOT of water. Do not be shy here, it needs to be soaked well for the lid and base to stick together well. It doesn't matter if water drops into the beef mince.
- Now place the pastry lids on top, DO NOT push the pastry lid down onto the mince filling. Think of it more like a drum stretching the pastry across to meet the edges!
- Cup your hand and push the lid firmly onto the pie tin edges to seal.
- Use a knife to cut down and around the pie tin edges.
- Use a pastry brush to very gently glaze the lid with milk.
- Ready to bake, place all 4 prepared pies onto a baking tin. Cook in the preheated oven at 180°C fan / 200°C conventional / 400°F/ Gas mark 6 for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, make your liquor.
- If you want more brown on top, leave in for 5 more minutes.
Liquor - Green Parsley Sauce
- Make up the fish stock from cubes with boiling water in a pan.
- Add sieve flour into cold water, whilst whisking, to make sure it mixes well
- When you are positive there are NO LUMPS in the flour and cold water. Slowly pour whilst whisking into the stock. Bring to the boil.
- Use scissors instead of a knife to chop the parsley very finely, you want the green parsley juice in the pan, not on the chopping board!
- Add parsley, salt and pepper, then lower to a simmer for 5 minutes. The liquor sauce is meant to be a thin sauce.
- If you want it thicker repeat flour and cold water steps to prevent lumps from forming.
- Ready to serve! Serve pie with a couple of scoops of mash potato and drizzle the liquor all over!
- For a proper Eastend London Pie Mash and Liquor experience, serve with Chilli Vinegar and jellied eels!
Frequently Asked Questions?
We find that frozen mince works better in this recipe than fresh, the moisture content helps break it down softer ready for filling the pie.
We find the best stock for adding richness and flavour to the pie mince filling is Knorr beef stock pots, the jelly like stock which you mix with hot water.
The main purpose of browning is to give the pie a deep dark brown colour. The flavour will not be negatively affected if you do not use it.
Suet is hard to find outside of the UK, if you need to substitute I recommend using vegetable shortening, weigh it out and freeze it before use then grate it into the flour.
We tried a few and found the Knorr fish stock cubes better than the fish stockpot (which were too strong).
Please do try the liquor sauce first, many people are put of at first sight but it really is very tasty and in my opinion brings out the best of this recipe! One of our kids refuses it so he has gravy instead!
We use Falcon brand 16cm x 12cm pie dish the depth is about 3.5cm. I would say that they are slightly bigger than the average pie and mash shop mince beef pies. You can buy the tins in Sainsbury's or Amazon. I have seen some foil pie dishes too but they are smaller.