Lamb and fennel pies

Pies are a cunning little culinary marvel, a secret treasure chest of deliciousness. No longer simple steak and gravy, this winter is the season of ‘the anything but ordinary’ pie. Essentially there is nothing you can’t reimagine into a crust of flaky, buttery pastry. This lamb and fennel pie is conceived as a hand pie, an on-the-go pie for any occasion but would work equally well as a larger shared pie.








Meat filling

  • 1.5kg lamb (neck, shoulder or leg – leg will be firmer to the bite), cut into 1.5-2cm chunks
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 40ml olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed and toasted
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fennel bulbs, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g Swiss brown or chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 125ml Pernod (or ouzo)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 20ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 150ml rich beef stock


  • 4 sheets of butter puff pastry (the number of sheets required is dependent on the size of your pie tins)
  • 500g small potatoes, peeled or not peeled depending on preference
  • 60g butter


1. To get started

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cut a circle of baking paper to fit snugly inside a Dutch oven, casserole dish or saucepan (large enough to fit the lamb in a single layer).

2. To make the meat filling

Spread the lamb over a baking sheet or similar, sprinkle over the flour, turning the lamb to lightly coat. Season the lamb pieces generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the Dutch oven (or selected pan) over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and cook the lamb in batches, until browned all over, remove and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium, add the toasted fennel seeds and fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the onion and fennel, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, sauté for a minute then pour in the Pernod, allow it to bubble up before adding the ground bay leaf, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and finally stir in the beef stock. Add the browned meat, coat with the sauce, cover with baking paper and a lid and braise in the oven for 1-1.5 hours, until the meat is completely tender (check the liquid level periodically). Allow the meat to cool before filling the pies.

3. To make the pies

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly grease the inside of your pie tins with butter. Reserve the remaining butter for the pie tops. For 180ml pie tins (Texas muffin size tins), cut 8 x 13cm circles from the opposite corners of each sheet (the remaining pastry can be used to cut tops if you are using pastry instead of potato). Line the greased tins with the pastry circles, carefully pushing into bases and prick the bases with a fork. These can be prepped in advance, covered and refrigerated until required.

Melt the remaining butter. Using a mandolin, very thinly slice the potato. Fill the pre-prepared pie tins with the lamb mixture, trim any excess pastry and arrange the potato rounds over the top of the pies in an overlapping pattern (like fish scales), pressing down on the potato around the edges of the pastry to seal. Brush the pie tops with melted butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.


  1. This pie can easily be reimagined into a single large pie – a perfect centrepiece for a shared banquet menu.
  2. The puff pastry can be substituted for shortcrust pastry.
  3. The sliced potato could be replaced with a pastry top, buttery celeriac mash or a hash brown style topping of grated potato cooked for 5 minutes in a little butter and scattered over the top of the filling.
  4. The meat filling can be prepared the day before.

Featured in Winter 2023

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