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Meat pies, anybody?

My mom was forever mincing up odds and ends of meat to make cottage (she called it shepherd's) pies and cooking meat in leftover gravy and topping it with her wonderful pie pastry. Stretched the food dollar and tastes scrummy.
I often make chicken pot pie with biscuit topping and yesterday made something I always make when there's leftover goose in the house - a goose pie in phyllo pastry. It is always tasty but last night's was spectacular (if I do say so myself). You know why? I used goose fat to brush on the pastry. Shatteringly crisp, much much more savory than butter.
Took about 3/4 lb of leftover goose, cut it into small bits. Melted 1/3 c goose fat, poured almost all of it out into a small bowl for the pastry, cooked 3 large shallots, cut up, in the rest. Added the goose, a couple of teaspoons of hot chili garlic paste, a couple of shakes of Worcestirshire, a tb of Dijon mustard, a cup of water, and half a Maggi beef bouillon cube. (The chili garlic sauce was from a Thai takeaway and the cream needed using up, I usually don't use cream in this but thought in for a penny, in for a pound. Literally.)
Simmered it down and added 1/2 c heavy cream, simmered until most of it was absorbed. Tasted it and decided a squirt of ketchup was in order. I like my meat pie fillings very highly seasoned.
Lined a 13x9 pan brushed with the goose fat with 4 layers of phyllo (used 2 sheets at at time, 2 pairs across the width of the pan, brushing each lightly with the fat and salting very lightly - 1/2 of a 1 lb pack of Athens brand, it's great that they pack them in two half-lb portions), topped with 1 layer of phyllo and the filling, then the rest of the phyllo as single sheets also brushed.
Squished the ragged edges sticking up down into the main part, sprinkled with nigella seeds, and baked at 400 deg F for about 25 mins. Man that was some good eatin' (as my father used to say). You could do the same with dark meat turkey or chicken for virtually the same effect.
How about you? Meat pies of any stripe on the hit parade in your house?

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  1. Our favourites are Tourtiere, Steak and Ale Pie and Chicken Pot Pie.

    4 Replies
        1. re: chefathome

          > Tourtière

          When made with a pâté à la viande, how thick is the resulting filling, after baking?
          Is it runny like a pot pie, or dense (like a pecan pie)?

          1. Do hand held meat pies count? My favorites are empanadas, pastelitos and samosas. Usually I bake my empanadas with an eggwash, but if I want to go Natchitoches or pastelito style, I deep fry them. I'm currently working at pefecting my pork and Aussie pie recipes.

            10 Replies
            1. re: JungMann

              If handheld pies count (and they should!) I would add Cornish pasties.

              1. re: JungMann

                Also Bolivian saltenas, but i have never made them myself...

                1. re: JungMann

                  i recently made little asian-flavored pork turnovers with phyllo squares.

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      sure i braised a pork tenderloin with chinese 5 spice, dried hot chili flakes, ground mustard, s&p, garlic powder, then after it was in braising liquid (chicken stock and a little rice wine) for 15 mins. i glazed it with a homemade duck sauce (someone provided me the recipe on the WFD thread, i'll have to dig it up for you, or you can just make any asian-y glaze you want.) finished it up, put it in fridge with the braising liquid for later. when i was ready to make them, I diced up the tenderloin cold, and put the meat and liquid into a pan to heat up. then i just took a sheet of phyllo, rolled it out a bit, cut into 4 squares, filled each with quite a good bit of meat and a little juice, and then folded them into triangles, crimping edges. 25 mins., at like 350 or 375. they leaked a little but not all that bad, really, and still had puffy integrity.

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        They sound fab--thanks for sharing (TEE HEE "puffy integrity"). :)

                  1. re: JungMann

                    So does a kibbeh count as a meat pie?

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      That *might* be stretching it. Kibbeh bil sanieh is more of a meatloaf, I think. When someone asks what kibbeh krass is, I've always told them it's meat-stuffed meatballs. Usually piques their interest.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        cooked ground meat sealed inside a bulgur shell. Not that big of a stretch. Meatballs I think of as the same through and through

                  2. One of my husband's favorite is Hamburger pie! I have mastered his mother's recipe...but that is our little secret!

                    Seafood Pie is standard in our house along with Curry Mussel Pie

                    However buttertart I will have to try that goose pie!
                    Sounds devine and should be banned in at least 3 states...

                    1. And how about calzones? Do they count?
                      I make Italian handheld pies, using a variety of cheeses (one cheese is always mozzerella), ground meats, spinach, mushrooms, onions, marinara, ricotta (sometimes) meatballs etc. It's a little like eating a wrapped pizza pie. Oh wait are talking about making pies using only phyllo dough?

                        1. "The butter won't melt, so I'll put it in the pie! Haaaaaaaaaaaaands across the water, haaaaaaaaaaaaands across the sky." :)

                          I always made chicken pot pie with Pillsbury crust, but recently made it topped with homemade cheddar rosemary biscuits and loved it even more. How did I not figure this out sooner? It's such a perfect time of year for pot pies or any sort of meat pies. I like the idea of using puff pastry as well. And also like the flavors you used in your goose pie.

                          On the topic of gravies for meat pies, my recipe has about the same amount of liquid yours does, buttertart (1.5 cups chicken broth in mine; 1 cup water, 1/2 cup cream in yours). I find that to be about the right amount or the pie is too soggy. Do others agree? I ask because when I made my pie recently, my mom really liked the flavor but kept saying, "There really isn't a lot of gravy--I would make more gravy." :)

                          I love empanadas, though I've never made them (development opportunity!) and rarely find them "out" to buy them. JungMann, any advice on favorite recipes?


                          12 Replies
                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            My exact recipe is written at home, but you can follow Ruhlman's advice for pie crust and go with a ratio of 3 parts flour : 2 parts fat : 1 part water. The fat is usually lard or shortening, but you can also use butter, depending on the filling. I also add a bit of sugar to the dough before chilling and rolling. Cut the fat into the dough with a pastry cutter and use the water to bring everything together. You'll want to roll the dough thinner for fried empanadas than the baked version which should be a balance of breadiness and flakiness. Don't forget the egg wash on the baked version as well and you should be good to go for perfectly golden half moons of pie.

                            1. re: JungMann

                              Thanks--don't ask me why I thought empanada dough was somehow different than straight-up pie dough...isn't there something in it to make it kind of golden/orange in color? I will research so as not to hog the thread. :)

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                The egg wash will give your baked empanadas a golden glossiness. If you're thinking a stronger orange or yellow color, that may come from the addition of annato or cornmeal, which is traditional in some cultures. And again there's another style that combines an oil-based dough and a water-based dough to create a very flaky empanada that is "scaled" as here: http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/...

                                1. re: JungMann

                                  Very fancy, those in the link. They remind me of sfogliatelle!

                                2. re: kattyeyes

                                  >I thought empanada dough was somehow different than straight-up pie dough

                                  Substitute some of the flour for Masa Harina to add a denser flavor.

                              2. re: kattyeyes

                                I make my chicken pot pie with a cheddar cheese crust, (which I also use for the bottom crust of my crumb topped applepie)...basically butter, flour, salt, ice water and shredded cheddar. The cheddar rosemary biscuits sound great too, but biscuits are one thing I have never been able to successfully make. Completely agree about the liquid...I don't like a lot more than that either...you could, i suppose serve extra "gravy " on the side to make Mom happy)

                                1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                  My favourite crust for meat pie is roasting chestnuts, pounding them, and mixing with whole herbs to place between layers of the crust, then roll out. You see the nuts and herbs through the crust and the flavour is incredible.

                                  1. re: chefathome

                                    you're adding chestnuts to the dough?
                                    what ratio do you use?

                                    1. re: chocabot

                                      About 10-12 chestnuts that I crush with a rolling pin then either add to the dough or if I am using puff pastry place the chestnuts and herbs (sage is wonderful) on one half and roll the dough over. Then roll out the dough into a sheet with the rolling pin. Just love the textural component, not to mention superb flavour!

                                      1. re: chefathome

                                        clever! if you're adding to your homemade dough do you need more moisture for the dough to come together?

                                        1. re: chocabot

                                          Actually, I have not as I usually must use vacuum-packed chestnuts which contain a bit of oil anyway. It is wonderful. I want to begin experimenting with other nuts and herbs as well.

                                  2. re: sunflwrsdh

                                    Hi there, sunflwrsdh. How much cheddar do you add to your crust? I ask because from surfing around, I had intended to add 4 oz. of cheese, but it just seemed like much...so I reduced it to 2.

                                    I highly recommend the Cook's Illustrated drop biscuits recipe...they are SO EASY...I just cut the recipe in half as I rarely have the need to make THAT many biscuits at once. Oh, and I don't use unsalted butter, but that's just me. :) Thanks for your support on the gravy, too. HA HA!

                                2. BT, your goose pie sounds divinely rich. i have pork fat on hand right now, and chicken thighs....

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                    Go there. Seriously. I grew up on lard piecrust, there's not much better.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      I went there with the pork fat, but no pies, just sauteed thighs with thyme in the fat for my dad's dinner over mashed. maybe leftovers tomorrow can make it into a pot pie....

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Something about lard in pie crust just cannot be replicated, in spite of millions in food science research. My mouth is literally watering thinking about that goose pie.

                                        1. re: tollboothworker

                                          It was swell. Must make again.
                                          According to my mother (not a scientist, probably read it in McCall's or something), lard has a crystalline structure that cuts the gluten leading to a better crust. I'm sticking with that explanation.

                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                        Uncle Bob, how do you think crawfish pie is when it's at room temperature? I've made them before and served them hot out of the oven. Don't know how they'd fare sitting around awhile.

                                      2. I also make samosas, when there's leftover keema curry (preferably ground lamb, with peas and mint) in the house. Madhur Jaffrey's pastry recipe, deep fried and served with sour cream (or yogurt if feeling virtuous). First had them at the Rajput restaurant on Bloor in Toronto, where they came with a glass sundae dish full of sour cream. One of those things there are never enough of.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          Typically I go whole hog (although that term is probably inappropriate in a zabihah halal context) and bring on the reddest meats for my samosa kheema, but lately I have been eating a lot more chicken samosas that are not missing flavor in the least. I think the key is to use more ginger than you would expect and do away from the cardamom, but introduce in some of the cilantro stems for texture. I love them. I have yet to try samosas and sour cream though! I am more of a green chutney and yogurt fan but sour cream suggests I might be able to make an Indo-Latino samosa to dip into guacamole.

                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            The twain have met on my table too (guacamole and samosas).

                                        2. Well, you've inspired me to buy a duck in the next few days, and some phyllo, and do something along the lines of your goose pie. Sounds wonderful.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                            That's the other meat that ends its days in this kind of a pie at our place. Or crrepes - goose being less tender I think it's not as suited for crepes as duck is.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              Now look what you've gone and done, bt. I'm going to have to make a tourtiere - or play with a riff on steak, onions and mushrooms braised in Guinness, thickened, and poured into a leaf-lard crust, served up with mashers and mushies. Yum.

                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                Meat pies are the staff of life. Go for it!

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  I thought we agreed that the true staff of life was See's, but these pies are hooking me in as a very, very arguably close second. : )

                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                    I saw the light when my fork fell on that goose pie. But maybe See's nuts and chews after.

                                                  2. re: mamachef

                                                    If you ever came up with a recipe for the steak-onion-mushroom-Guinness pie, please share! That sounds like a divine combination! I was thinking that some brisket braised in Guinness might work as well...

                                              2. Oh heck yes I like me some meat pies. I think it's going to be beef pot pie with mashed potato crust for us tomorrow.

                                                1. My GF made a meat pie for me out of the "La Cucina: Regional Cooking of Italy" cookbook. It was made in a springform, using a sort of pizza-ish dough, but with eggs. The filling was romano cheese (I think?), ground veal, ground beef, and beef salami. That's it. It was delicious.

                                                  11 Replies
                                                    1. re: foreverhungry

                                                      Sounds like pizza gain (really pizza chena, I guess) except for the ground beef and veal...was it?

                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                        Love pizza gain ( chena?)- My sister in laws mother makes it for me at Easter. I am the only one in the family who likes it, so I am glad I only have it once a year. I think it has at least a dozen eggs. She adds a bit of pepperoni, too. so good.

                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                          That's really the only meat pie I make -- Pizza Rustica or Pizza Gain. It's meat, cheese and eggs really. And I make mine at Easter. This is the one I managed to cobble together from my hoarded stash of pork last year in Egypt. And ground veal? Mai, mai con vitello!

                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                Same general principle, but different finished product. It wasn't as layered as a pizza chena, and no whole eggs in the filling, which I understand pizza chena's usually have. It wasn't as much of a production, or decadent, or stuffed, as a pizza chena. Just a mixture of 3 meats, topped with cheese, then another crust on top. This Spring, I'll be making a pizza chena. I can understand why they are made for special occasions - you can't be eating it on a regular basis and have a normal cholesterol profile!

                                                                1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                  Yeah, everyone jokes that's where the "gain" comes from. :) MOO.

                                                            1. My family goes nuts when I make a Tamale Pie.

                                                              1. I make Shepard's pie all the time and it's a huge hit all around. I use either leftover garlic mashed potatoes or leftover colcannon on top. I generally use green beans for the veggie layer. And for the meat, I used ground turkey, mushrooms and grated onion with my favorite seasonings.

                                                                1. I make Steak & Kidney Pie... which is a "comfort food" for me (reminds me of childhood, etc.). But it's not easy to find the kidney around here (NJ).

                                                                  Cornish Pasties are also a "comfort food" for me... and I see they've already been mentioned.

                                                                  1. The wife makes "meat pies" during holidays. She learned from her mother who learned from her mother etc etc. Some may call it tourtiere, but we just call it meat pie.
                                                                    Ground pork simmered with pre-boiled potatoes, salt&pepper. The mix is mashed lightly and put into pie shells with a flour/lard/water dough and covered with the same. A hole cut in the middle, a milk wash and baked.
                                                                    Great hot, room temp, cold outta the fridge, or warmed over.
                                                                    I'll commandeer an occasional pie before baking and add cayenne or creton seasonings to change things up sometimes.
                                                                    Last year, she baked 42 for Christmas...

                                                                    1. When making a double crust pie with a filling with a decent amount of gravy, what type of crust do people use on the bottom? Is everyone making a hot water crust to withstand the liquid or does a blind baked regular butter crust work?

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: JungMann

                                                                        I always use a hot water crust - if you use a butter crust on the bottom, I imagine it'd be soggy.

                                                                        1. re: Cremon

                                                                          I like hot water pastry, but I needed the extra richness of my lard and butter crust, so I tested the recipe out with a curried beef filling and it worked fine. I did make sure to minimze the gravy so as to not have too much liquid pooling in the pan.

                                                                      2. I haven't made these in particular, but looking at a cookbook from a job I had like 25 years ago, I saw a recipe for pasties. I have never tried those, but have always wanted to. With the way things are budget wise, I am looking more and more for these types of things to make with leftovers. I used to make an appetizer with a cream cheese pastry that was fantastic (crab ) actually they were fantastic. Then I lost the recipe, but I'm sure with all the recipes I can make these using many types of fillings. I just loved the pastry because it was flakey and tasty. I'd cut the pastry using a small glass, the fill with a little bit of filling, use an egg wash and bake them off. I used mushrooms at times too, they were simply wonderful. TIme to try to recreate this simple little snack or even make them bigger.

                                                                        Your recipe sounds wonderful and even though I have filo and puffed pastry in the freezer, I've never made pies with it other than fruit ones (raspberry and blackberry turnovers). Your recipe sounds quite stepped up, however I rarely roast a goose, but maybe duck fat will do. I love the addition of cream that sounds pretty darn good!

                                                                        1. I love savory pies and have just started to try and make and eat them again. A couple weeks ago I made a shaved rib eye steak, caramelized onion, and ricotta cheese stuffed meat pie, with sesame seeds on the top.

                                                                          My SIL used to bring me empanadas, she is Columbian, and I'm not sure if she makes them or buys them, but they are so good. They have been on my mind lately, so I thought that I would try these:


                                                                          I love Cornish pasties. In addition to the more traditional filling with the turnips and veg, I would make a steak and Stilton cheese. With leftover taco filling or pork filling from carnitas I have done a dough with corn meal to make a meat pie. I lost that dough recipe when I moved. I may need to find a good one again.

                                                                          1. I love making my own chicken pot pie and an English favorite - steak and kidney pie (they call it Kate and Sidney pie over there - a nickname given it by English soldiers). If I make the steak and kidney I use lamb kidneys though - beef kidneys have too strong a flavor for me. I am a freak for savory pies but I don't make them often as they are very high in fat. I like making a non-flaky hot water crust - my crusts tend to come out like swanson's savory pies which I grew up eating so it stands to reason I'd like that style of crust. I make them with Crisco shortening usually but I have made them with lard as well. If you use lard, you will get a different mouth-feel but the flavor is pretty much the same.

                                                                            Also, I make my pies two crust - on top and bottom using a baker's tin from the grocery store. My favorite part about eating a pie like this is the crust with the gravy on it, so there has to be lots of crust!
                                                                            I have 3 kids and when I make my chicken pot pie (I use small chicken chunks, chopped leeks, peas and carrots with a creamy chicken gravy filling) they go crazy. I have to make at least 5 pies when I do this (I use the 8 inch tins) or they argue over portions.

                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Cremon

                                                                              Is your hot water crust recipe by weight? And if so, are you willing to share it? :-D

                                                                              1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                I'll gladly share my recipe for the whole pie after I get home from work, but here is how I make my crust dough (I got this online somewhere and have been using it ever since - I can't remember where I picked this up but I cannot take credit for it - I just know it works very well and it has the exact texture and taste as the crust of a Swanson chicken pot pie):

                                                                                Combine 1/2 cup plus 6 Tbsp. Crisco or other vegetable shortening, 1/4 cup hot water, and 1 Tbsp. milk in a large bowl. Beat with a fork, using vigorous across the bowl strokes, until the mixture looks like whipped cream. Some of the water might fly out of the bowl while you do this. That's okay; the recipe is planned with that in mind. It may be tempting to give up, but keep going; all of a sudden the shortening will absorb the water.

                                                                                Add 2-1/4 cups flour and 1/2 tsp. salt all at once. Stir vigorously with your fork as the flour begins to be absorbed into the shortening and water mixture. Keep stirring; it will seem like the dough won't combine; just keep going. When the pie crust dough looks like crumbled feta cheese, you're about halfway there.

                                                                                Keep stirring; the dough will begin to look consistent and the pieces of dough will get larger. When you take some of the crumbs in your hand and make a fist, the pie crust dough will hold together. At this point, stop stirring and pull out some waxed paper.

                                                                                Gather all of the crumbs in the bowl into your hands and form the pie crust dough into a smooth ball, pressing and turning as you go. The crumbs should come together very readily. If the dough feels very soft or sticky, sprinkle 1-2 Tbsp. more flour over and work it in. If the dough is too dry, sprinkle a bit more water over the crumbs, a teaspoon at a time, until you can gather the crumbs together into a ball.

                                                                                You shouldn't have a problem with the dough coming together, but just in case, it's good to know how to fix problems. Form the pie crust dough ball into a round disk about 1" thick.

                                                                                Now the dough needs to rest for awhile. Place the dough into a plastic food storage bag and put it into the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

                                                                                When I work with it, I always put it between 2 sheets of wax paper before I use the rolling pin.

                                                                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                    Sorry I didn't have one that's measured by weight but I hope the one above helps.

                                                                                    1. re: Cremon

                                                                                      That's ok. I appreciate all the specific instructions.

                                                                              2. re: Cremon

                                                                                Has anybody tried substituting Vodka for half the water?

                                                                                1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                  I've done this. I understand the technique in principle, but haven't noticed a real difference in the flakiness of my crust. That said, my crusts are admittedly inconsistent so while using alcohol in place of water might be a good idea, don't expect it to substitute for good technique.

                                                                                  1. re: JungMann

                                                                                    Just as an FYI - the crust recipe I posted above will not be flaky - for that one you need to use cold butter. Please forgive me if you already knew that. I personally only make flaky crusts when I make dessert pies.

                                                                                    1. re: Cremon

                                                                                      I didn't notice that Cremon was referring to your hot water pastry. In that case my comments are moot since I've only done shortcrust with vodka.

                                                                              3. Meat pies are a favorite. My first taste of a tourtiere was a revelation...great stuff.

                                                                                My favorite meat pie though is still the classic British one (the Melton Mowbray pork pie).
                                                                                Here's a good recipe (and you can make it even better by adding a small amount of finely chopped bacon to the pork):


                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                                                  I'm rather intregued by that idea of adding pork 'jelly' to the pie after it has been baked. Historical Foods in one of my favorite recipe sites.

                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                    The addition of the aspic is brilliant touch, and really "makes" the pie, giving a bit of extra lusciousness.

                                                                                    Historical Foods is indeed a very interesting site to explore.

                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                      The use of aspic is traditional in French patés en croute as well. See Julia, Volume !!, for an easy technique for adding the aspic to the cooled paté: she uses pastry tips as funnels. Works brilliantly, and not as messy as just trying to pour it through a small pastry hole.

                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        So is it basically that the filling is dry so it won't collapse the pastry shell, and then you pour some gelatinous stock through the hole in the top crust after it's baked?

                                                                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                          In Julia's paté en croute, the filling isn't necessarily dry, but it firms up when cooked. It expands while it's baking, then shrinks as it cools so the gelatinous stock fills the gaps between the filling and the crust. When I've made it, I've done it in a hinged paté mold, so collapsing pastry isn't an issue. In the recipe linked above, greaseproof paper is wrapped around the crust to hold it in shape while it's being baked..

                                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                                          Adding the aspic to the meat pie through the small hole at the top is not messy at all...not in the least.
                                                                                          A funnel works great for this.

                                                                                  2. Made a shepherd's pie last Saturday with horseradish mash (my husband's brilliant idea) -- really very tasty!