I have to confess, I’ve never actually eaten fidget pie, but a friend who is a vegetarian once had it at a pub and the version she had didn’t seem enticing at all, and she was very disappointed, and not a little fed up. What she had certainly was a pie because it had pastry all around it, but it was just filled with mashed potato, not at all what it should be, with onions and apples, some potato and a cheesy crust… She didn’t complain, it was one of those occasions where it was so busy and crowded and we were on a works’ ‘do’… but it put me off going back to that pub!
Fidget pie is usually associated with Shropshire, but I’ve also found recipes which claim its origins are to be found in the Midlands, including Cheshire which I would hardly count as Midlands at all, and Huntingdonshire – which is on the very eastern edge of the central part of the country, and Cambridgeshire, my home ground, which is on the edge of east Anglia!. The pie usually has potato, onions and apples – and quite often sausages and or bacon, and the stock which is also added is often made up with cider, or sometimes it is just cider! When it originated, maybe as far back as Anglo-saxon times, there would have been no potatoes, so maybe other vegetables were added.
The word ‘fidget’, sometimes figet or fitchet or even fitchcock, maybe comes from a word meaning pole-cat, supposedly because the pied didn’t smell very nice when it was cooking – that doesn’t sound at all believable to me… what among the ingredients wouldn’t smell nice while cooking? It sounds as if it would smell great!! I must make it, and then i can report back directly.
Here is a recipe I found in my little booklet, ‘Spillers Party Cook Book’:
- 1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 8 oz sausage meat,cut into ‘neat’ pieces
- 8 oz onions, peeled and sliced
- 8 oz apples, peeled and sliced
- ½ pint stock (or half stock, half cider)
- ½ oz sugar
- short crust pastry (8 oz plain four/4 oz shortening/ pinch of salt/ cold water to mix) – this is for a crust only, if you want a full pie, double the amount
- 1 beaten egg for glazing
- line a well-greased pie dish with pastry if using, otherwise layer potato, sausage, apple
- sprinkle the apple with the sugar
- season stock and pour over (you may need less if you have a pastry bottom)
- cover with pastry, brush with beaten egg
- cook at gas mark 4, 375ºF, 180ºC for 1-1½ hours