I really love pies, and in particular this one. I love the pastry even though it's terribly bad for you, I love the fact that it's good eaten hot or cold. I can't better the recipe of Simon Hopkinson's - even nicer, he got it from his mother.
250g onions, peeled and chopped
500g stewing beef, cut into small pieces
salt and pepper
1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
for the pastry
125g lard or, even better, beef dripping
200g self-raising flour
good pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C/gas mark 6. Put the meat and onions into your chosen pot. Add enough water to cover the meat by at least 5cm. Add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and stir in. Cover with a lid, or foil, and cook for 20 minutes. Lift off the cover and check that all is simmering nicely. If so, replace the cover, turn the temperature down to 300F/150C/gas mark 2, and continue to cook for another hour.
Meanwhile, make the pastry. Blend the fat, flour and salt together in a bowl with your hands until crumbly. Incorporate enough cold water to bind the mixture so that it comes together in a stiff mass; don't let it become too sticky. Leave to rest in the fridge until ready to use.
Remove the pot of meat and onions from the oven and stir in the potatoes. Turn the temperature up to 350F/180C/gas mark 4. Continue to cook for another 40 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are tender. Roll out the pastry into a circle slightly larger than the top of the pot. You don't want the dough to be too thin: this is a proper pie-crust, remember, not a fiddly bit of filo nonsense.
Once the meat and 'taties are ready, take from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes or so. Drape the pastry over the stewed meat, tuck the edges down the sides of the pot - as neatly as you see fit - and press against the sides of the pot. Puncture the surface of the pastry in two or three places with a small knife and put back into the oven. Bake for a final 30 minutes until the pastry looks a little puffed up and has taken on a little colour. Eat with pickled red cabbage and ketchup. Traditionally, the pie is most enjoyed when generously doused with malt vinegar.