A true working class hero’s meal, the ubiquitous pie and mash can be found in every London household and is available in instant and frozen form across all the leading groceries as well. The humble pie and mash has been a staple in every Londoner’s diet since the Victorian era and its scrumptious qualities haven’t lost its appeal that spans many generations.
The traditional parsley sauce makes this meal top notch and who could resist the pairing of those jellied eels. This might seem like an acquired taste, but shops around East End and beyond have their take on the best pie and mash only in the Big Smoke.
Making pie and mash from scratch has been perfected by your mum (and all our mums) and it is an absolute delight to come home to this classic comfort food. But if your mum’s not around, the next best thing is to scour these shops for the best one. A venerable part of London’s food institutions, Manze’s pie and mash should be one of the first on your list if you’re trying pie and mash for the first time or already had dozens at home growing up. Very close to Tower Bridge, open since 1902, they are still using their original recipe that already has a cult following from all over London and the rest of the world. If you’re looking for an updated version that’s still true to its humble, homey version, you can try Mother Mash in Soho. You can mix and match with many variations of mash if you’re trying to be adventurous and choose from the myriad variety of quality sausages and meats. Aside from the traditional parsley liquor sauce, you can try different gravies that includes a tasty caramelized red and white onion version. Another traditional shop is G. Kelly’s Pie and Mash Shop established in 1937. These pies are lovingly hand-made and are brimming with flavour using the best quality beef. You can also opt for vegetarian pies, chicken and mushroom and fruit pies. Don’t forget their noted jellied eels to pair with your pie and mash.
One of the biggest influences of London food tradition is the River Thames. It provided fish, both fresh and salt water. The famous Cockney speciality, jellied eels, caught both locally and further out in the Thames Estuary is made by boiling the eels with plenty of herbs and allowing small pieces to cool and form their own jelly (or by adding a helping portion of using gelatine). The taste is a little like pickled herring.
Ingredients list (Serves 4):
Lean minced beef - 600g (1 lb 5 oz)
Vegetable oil - 2 teaspoon
Onion - 1 medium, peeled and chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, crushed
Plain flour - 2 teaspoon
Tomato purée - 2 tsp
English mustard - 1 tsp
Mushrooms - 75g (3 oz), finely chopped
Brown ale or bitter - 1 x 300 ml (11 fl oz) can
Puff pastry - 400g (14 oz), or shortcrust or suet crust pastry
Milk 2 tsp or egg white