I've had an incredible hankering for meat pies. I know exactly where it comes from: I read The String of Pearls, the original Sweeney Todd story, this weekend, and the author's repeated description of the delicious meat pies made me hungrier with every telling.
So I decided to make some. Unlike Mrs. Lovett, I chose to use beef.
We started with a London broil we had picked up on sale somewhere: I cut it into cubes and cooked it in a pot with garlic, onion, salt, and some olive oil. Once it was all browned, I turned down the heat, covered it, and let it stew in its own juices for 30 minutes or so. Then I put the lid on the pan, put the pan in the fridge, and forgot about it for a couple days.
Two days later, after the beef had had some time to "season" a little, I brought it out, put it on the stove on low, and started to warm it up. My daughter peeled four mid-sized potatoes, and we boiled them with some salt in some water. Once the potatoes were soft, we poured the potato water off into the beef, took the meat out of the juice, and made a gravy from the meat juice and potato water (we added a little bouillon and some corn starch to thicken it). Once the gravy looked respectable, we put the potatoes and beef into it, turned off the stove, and stirred it all together to form a thick stew.
My daughter made pastry, we lined two pie plates, and put half the beef/potato/gravy mixture into each one. Despite my daughter's protestations, we put some frozen green beans in each pie, then put lids on them and baked them.
The pies baked for about an hour, then we took one out and cut it.
I knew a good pie needed a good beer to wash it down, so I cracked a bottle of Chambly Noire and tucked in.
The verdict? No doubt Mrs. Lovett's pies were excellent, but I think I prefer mine.