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Savory Pies

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    Posted: 05 September 2012 at 06:57

Say “pie” today and most people would think of something sweet, usually based on fruit. But it wasn’t always that way. A pie, after all, is merely a group of ingredients enclosed in a paste. In earlier times, those ingredients would be savory at least as often as sweet ones.

Savory pies, typically, only used a top crust, although there are some notable exceptions.

There are some modern remnants of the savory pie idea. Pot pies, for example, are a pale version of the meat pies one might find in the 18th century. And the 19th century Steak & Kidney pie, still popular in England today, is merely a less expensive version of the Steak & Ham pie of a century earlier---and a reflection of the fact the modern fad for offal is far from a new thing..

Steak & Ham Pie

1 ½ lbs beefsteak

Flour for dusting

Salt & Pepper

Oil

1 large leek, cut in half moons

½ lb boiled ham, sliced

1 tbls flour

1 tbls butter

1 cup beef stock

1 pastry dough

 

Cut steak in pieces about one inch square. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Pound the steaks with a mallet until ve3ry thin. Brown them in a little hot oil. Remove from pan.

 

Melt butter in pan, scraping up any brown bits. Sauté the leeks until soft. Stir in the tablespoon of flour. Cook a minute or two then pout in hot stock. Let thicken slightly.

 

Arrange the steaks in a dish with the ham. Pour the gravy over them. Top with a pastry lid.

 

Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until crust is browned and cooked through.

 

By and large, these “meat” pies had less gravy than the pot pies of today, using just enough liquid to bind everything together.  Whereas we would almost always use stock or water as the gravy base, sometimes other liquids were used, as in this

Cheshire Pork Pie

1 small pork loin, about 1 ½ lbs

Salt, pepper, & powdered nutmeg to taste

2-3 apples

1 tbls lemon juice       

3 tbls sugar

1 cup white wine

2 tbls butter (approx.)

1 pastry dough

 

Trim any excess fat from pork. Slice the pork about ¼ inch thick, in two to three inch squares. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

 

Peel the3 apples. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the cores. Slice thickly. Set in a bowl of water to which one tablespoon lemon juice has been added.

 

Put a layer of pork slices in a buttered baking dish. Cover with a layer of sliced apples. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar. Top with another layer of pork. Pour in the wine. Dot with butter.

 

Top the dish with a pastry lid. Bake at 350F about 45 minutes, until the crust is baked through and slightly browned.

 

You could, if you wanted to, substitute apple juice for the wine and still have a great tasting dish.

 

All sorts of proteins were used to make meat pies, reflecting what was available and familiar. Take, for instance, this

 

Salt Fish Pie

 

3 lbs salt cod or Pollack

2 French rolls

2 cups milk

½ cup butter, melted

1 tbls fresh parsley, minced

1 tbls thyme

1 tsp grated nutmeg

Pinch pepper

2 tsp prepared mustard

1 pastry dough

 

Soak the fish overnight, changing water at least once. Poach the fish in fresh water until tender. Mince the fish, removing any bones, cartilage or skin that remains.

 

Remove the crust from the rolls and discard. Cut the crumb into thin slices. Bring the milk just to a boil and pour over the bread, mashing it with a fork, in a baking pan. Add the fish, butter, parsley, thyme, nutmeg, pepper, and mustard, combining all well. Cover with the pastry dough.

 

Bake at 350F until crust is browned and fish cooked through, about an hour.

 

The literature is full of paste recipes, and you can use just about any recipe you like. Here’s our go-to version:

 

Plain Pastry Dough

 

1 ½ cups pastry flour

½ cup lard

½ tsp baking powder

¼ cup cold water

½ tsp salt

 

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Cut lard into dry mixture until the size of peas. Add water, a little at a time. Place on a floured board and roll into a slightly flattened ball. Wrap in film or wax paper and chill before using.

 

Here’s a trick if, like me, you’re not very good at rolling dough. Instead, pinch off small pieces and roll them between your palms to form marble-sized pieces. Flatten each “marble” with your fingers to form thin pastry coins. Then arrange these coins as your top crust.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 September 2012 at 09:30

Historic Foodie,

 
Thanks for posting these Savoury Tart Delights ... They sound great ... always lovely with a good pastry shell.
 
Shall definitely give a couple of these a try once it gets cooler. Still quite warm in Italia and in Madrid as well.
Ciao.
Marge.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 September 2012 at 09:42
wonderful recipes, brook - and very good historical information as well. thank you! Hug
 
if any if anyone would like to do a pictorial on any of these pies, i'd suggest making a new topic for each one, including the recipe for the pie you're making. i'd love to take a stab at any of them ~ definitely a good winter project!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pork Pie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2012 at 00:11
Historic I live in Cheshire so the Pork Pie recipe interested me, I'm not very good with computers so I hope this work click on page 17 for the 1925 Wigan version of an American Sandwich.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pork Pie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2012 at 00:21
It worked. One of the Traditional UK ingredients in pie, pudding and flan making is beef suet.This is the famous name in suet in the UK and everyone of the recipes is pure comfort food http://www.atora.co.uk/inspiration/index.htm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2012 at 04:52
I hope you'll try the Cheshire Pie, and report back to us, Pork Pie. That particular version was adapted from John Farley's 1787 The London Art of Cookery. But other versions (not always under that name) pre-date it.
 
I don't understand the significance of the American Sandwich link. It's just mashed canned fish used as a spread. Nothing to do with pies that I can see.
 
Suet, unfortunately, is all but unavailable in the U.S. Although it is, as you suggest, a traditional fat in many dishes, most of it here goes to the people who make commerical wild bird feed. In addition to the uses you specify, rendered beef fat was used for deep frying as well.
 
If you do try the Cheshire Pie, there's no reason you can't sub suet for the lard in the crust.
 
It would be interesting to research when, and why, suet was replaced by lard for those uses. I an guess why it was so in Kentucky, and, perhaps, other parts of the American south. But that's all it would be, a guess.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2012 at 05:04
always lovely with a good pastry shell.
 
Although the three versions above do use pastry shell's, not all 18th century savory pies did so.
 
We have discussed, elsewhere, the use of a mashed potato topping. http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/shepherds-pie_topic2305_page1.html When made with lamb, this is called Shepherd's Pie. Made with other proteins, it's simply called Cottage Pie. And, in some regions, a dish made that way with venison is called a Deerstalker Pie.
 
Sometimes one of the ingredients was used for the topping. For instance, from an early Viriginia cookery manuscript comes a recipe for:
 
Chicken Corn Pie
 
1 cup raw rice
Butter
1 large chicken
3 ears corn
1 cup chicken broth
3 tbls butter
Salt & pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
 
Boil the rice until cooked. Butter it while still hot. Poach the chicken, remove sking, and divide into 8-10 pieces. Roast or boil the corn until cooked. Scrape the kernels from the cobs.
 
Put a lyer of rice in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Add the chicken and corn. Pour in the broth. Add the three tablespoons butter and season with salt and pepper.
 
Cover with another layer of rice. Glaze the rice with the beaten egg. Bake at 350F until a delicate brown, 20-30 minutes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 January 2017 at 16:07
Bringing this back up to the top - the Cheshire Pie caught my eye again!

I'm guessing that quite a bit can be said about pies such as those discussed here, and this time of year, they are worth a re-visit....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 January 2017 at 19:22
If we can believe the celebrity chefs and cooking shows, savory pies are enjoying a resurgence.

Sooooo, lookee here: Foods of the World ahead of the curve.
But we hae meat and we can eat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 January 2017 at 19:30
There's something about the Cheshire Pork Pie that draws people in, Ron. For instance, when Lisa Goldfinger, at Panning The Globe, read our two cookbooks, that's the recipe that appealed to her. So much so she's working on a modernized version for her blog.

Speaking of our books, there are several adapted recipes in them for savory pies, all dating at least to the 18th century. So there's nothing new about them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 February 2017 at 03:14
For those who may have missed it, a complete discussion about the Cheshire Pork Pie can be found here: http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/a-nice-hit-for-meand-fotw_topic4749.html

What sparked it was an entry in Lisa Goldfinger's blog, Panning The Globe. Here version, along with comments, can be found at her site, which is linked-to in our discussion.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 February 2017 at 03:22
BTW, we made it, this last time, using Lisa's pastry recipe. She told me it's her go-to pie dough, and I can see why. It's the one we'll be using in the future.

Lisa Goldfinger's Pastry Dough
(makes a double crust)


2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 tbls cold water

Cut butter into small chunks and put it into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-shaped chopping blade. Add flour and salt. Pulse about 10 times. Then add the water and pulse about 10 more times or until the texture resembles cornmeal. Pour the mixture into a large bowl or onto a clean surface and, using the heal of our hand, press it little b little, until the butter and flour are incorporated. Divide the dough in half and gather it into two balls. Flatten the balls into discs. Cover wit plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 June 2017 at 10:18
I'm putting this here only because it's called a pie, although it lacks any sort of crust. Couldn't figure where else to put it.

Friend wife got this from a co-worker. It’s quick, nutritious, and delicious. Source says it serves 8, but 6 is more realistic.

We made it with turkey, and it was ok, but needed kicking up. I think beef would be a better choice, and either more taco seasoning, or, perhaps, some chili powder.

I can easily see this using lamb or venison, and North African flavors, topping it with either a mint or dill yogurt sauce

Definitely part of our rotation.

EASY TACO PIE

1 lb ground beef or turkey     
3 tbls taco seasoning
¾ cup water     
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream     
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp salt     
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a deep-dish pie pan.

Brown meat in a skillet over medium heat. Add taco seasoning and stir to combine, then add water, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until sauce thickens.
Spread meat in prepared pie pan.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, cream, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over meat. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes until center is set and cheese browned.

Remove from oven and let sit five minutes before slicing and serving. Top with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, and chopped avocado as desired.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 June 2017 at 15:12


Thank you Brook.

All of these savoury pies, are surely exceptional .. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 July 2017 at 02:18
Not for nothing, I was watching an episode of Chopped, and one of the contestants commented that at his restaurant oyster pie was one of the specialties.

A quick shot of it showed the oyster filling sandwiched between a top and bottom crust.

Hmmmmm?  Maybe savory pies really are enjoying a resurgence.
But we hae meat and we can eat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 August 2017 at 12:26
Hopefully - to me, they are one of the best ways to eat a meal.
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