The Comfort of a Pie -- and Seven Recipes
One of the wonders of the lowly pie is that the choice of fillings seems limitless. For the most part my pie making follows a seasonal pattern. In February I make cherry pie. I make pineapple pie in late winter, using pineapple canned in its own unsweetened juice, and the look and taste of the golden filling seems to bring sun to cold, overcast days. I make rhubarb pie in the spring when the stalks of that old-fashioned “pie plant” are new. Only summer brings the possibility of a blackberry pie. The best apple pies are made in midsummer when the first green apples appear in the market, or in the autumn with newly picked Cortlands from a nearby orchard. And a mincemeat pie, made with Aunt Dotty’s homemade mincemeat rich with venison, apples, raisins, and brandy, is only for Christmas dinner.
There are one-crust pies that I consider seasonal, such as pumpkin (or squash). But all one-crust pies — custard, chocolate cream, coconut cream, lemon meringue — are superior when served in a pastry shell rather than in one of the sweet crumb crusts.
A pie can make a meal, too. There is Ham and Egg or Cheese and Onion Pie. Or pies made with leftover turkey or chicken or pot roast.
But my best beef pie is not made with leftovers. For my Meat and Potato Pie I cook cubes of lean beef in water with chopped onions and a bay leaf all day in a slow oven. When the meat is fork-tender I thicken the gravy and add cubed, cooked potatoes. Although Meat and Potato Pie, which came to our family by way of our English grandmother, was probably intended to be a two-crust pie, it has long been traditional for Butler family cooks to bake its crust in flat sheets. This “pie” comes to our table as a bowl of meat and potato cubes in rich gravy, accompanied by a napkin-lined basket heaped with squares of flaky crust. We crumble the crust over the serving of meat and potatoes on our plate or eat the squares as we would crisp crackers. I invariably make it when the snow lies around the door and the thermometer is plunging — what discomfort can a winter night hold when there is Meat and Potato Pie for supper?
From Yankee‘s Recipe Database, these pie recipes come from our readers’ kitchens.