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Pie and Mash with Liquor

Introduction & method

Dating from the times when the Thames was cleaner and full of life, these pies would originally have contained eels - the accompanying sauce is made from the liquid (the liquor) the eels were cooked in, along with a load of parsley that gives it its green colour. Nowadays the most common filling is minced beef, although finely diced beef can also be used.

Pie and Mash with Liquor Recipe

Make the Minced Beef Filling

Peel and chop the onion. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium heat and cook the onions until slightly browned. Add the mince and break it up to get it all browned. Add beef stock, ground black pepper and a splash of Worcester sauce (or Henderson's Relish if you're in Yorkshire). Simmer for 30 minutes. Make up a runny paste of 4 tbsps flour and water. Use half of it to thicken the gravy - the other half is for thickening the liquor.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely - you don't want to be adding hot filling to pastry, it'll create sogginess in the bottom area.


Strangely, East End pies are made using 2 different pastries - the bottom is a suet based pastry, while the top can be ordinary shortcrust (see my shortcrust pastry recipe ) or bought-in puff pastry.

Make the Suet Pastry

Mix the flour, suet and salt together in a large bowl. Add just enough water to bring it together as a ball of dough that leaves the bowl clean. Take it out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface until it develops a little elasticity - about 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic film and leave to rest.

Make the Liquor / Sauce

If you have actual eels, gut them and chop into slices about 5cm (2 inches). Pop them in a pan with plenty of water, add a generous handful of chopped parsley, bring to the boil and simmer for .30 minutes.

Otherwise, dissolve a fish stock cube in hot water, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Add enough water to the flour and stir well to make a smooth slurry. Add this to the stock (if using eels to make your stock, remove them and set aside), stir well and keep on stirring until the sauce has thickened.

Add a dash of chilli vinegar and taste for seasoning. Add salt if needed.

Assemble the Pies

East End pies are always individual ones. You'll need some individual-sized pie dishes or foil containers. Butter the inside of the dishes well to prevent sticking. Pre-heat your oven to 160°C (320°F) if it's a fan oven, or 180°C (356°F) if not.

On a floured worktop, roll out shortcrust pastry for your lids. It should be about 3-4mm (just under a quarter of an inch) thick.If you have a cutter or bowl that is the same outside diameter as your dishes, use that to cut lids. Otherwise cut around an upturned pie dish with a knife. Use the narrow end of a funnel to cut a hole in the centre of each lid.

Roll out suet pastry for the bases. Gently press the pastry into each dish and trim off any excess pastry.

Fill each pie casing with the cooled minced beef filling. Moisten the rim of the base with cold water and put a lid on. Press it down all around to form a good seal, then lift up the edges of the pies so that the pastry doesn't stick to the tins.

Brush each pie with beaten egg to glaze it.

Place your pies into a large roasting tin and add enough very hot water to come at least halfway up the pie tins. Tightly cover the roasting tin with aluminium foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for about another 15 minutes. The idea of this last bit of cooking is to brown the tops of the pies.

Make the Mashed Potatoes

Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain the liquid off, add a knob of butter, a pinch of salt and a splash of milk. Mash the potatoes until smooth but not pureed.

Serve your Pie Mash and Liquor

Tip a pie out onto a plate (some people say the pie should be served upside down, I say 'meh'). Scoop some mash onto the plate and if you have used actual eel, chuck a couple of chunks on. Smother the mash with liquor and drizzle with chilli vinegar.


The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Pie and Mash with Liquor on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 500 grams minced beef
 1 large onion
 500 ml beef stock
 1 tsp ground black pepper
 1 tsp chopped parsley
 300 grams self-raising flour
 150 grams suet
 150 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
 75 grams unsalted butter
 a pinch of salt
 500 ml fish stock
 a handful of fresh parsley
  chilli vinegarMASH
  potatoes a splash of milk
 a knob of unsalted butter
 a pinch of salt


To thicken the pie filling and parsley liquor, you'll need a tablespoon or two of cornflour dissolved in cold water. To make chilli vinegar, slice up 3-4 red chillies and add them to a small jar of malt vinegar. Leave to infuse for at least 2 hours.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 6 pies
Prep time: 15 minutes.
cooling time: 1 hour.
Cooking time: 45 minutes.
Total time: 2 hour.