Photos and story by Julie Van Rosendaal
Harvest season is pie season, with so much produce at its peak at the same time, affordable and abundant, begging to be piled into pastry. And while fall brings to mind mile-high apple and spiced pumpkin pies, it’s also the perfect time for savoury pies — interesting combinations of meat and veg you can wrap in pastry and bring straight from the oven to the table for a single-dish dinner.
When considering savoury pies, chicken pot and shepherd’s may come to mind, but potential filling combinations are as limitless as they are for the dessert variety. Generally speaking, savoury pies have fillings that are pre-cooked before being turned into their pastry-lined plates, which makes them simple to pull off — there’s little concern over cooking time or sliceability. If you don’t want to slice yours at all, a pot pie requires only a lid; spoon any stew-like mixture into a baking dish, top with regular or puff pastry, cut a few steam holes and bake until bubbly and golden, then serve with a spoon. Yes, it still counts as pie.
Another shortcut that doesn’t produce a lesser pie: galette-style free-form pies you can bake on a sheet (or in a pie plate, if you want more support around the sides). They can be assembled using traditional or thawed puff pastry, require no trimming or crimping, and though tomatoes are wonderful, can be made using virtually any vegetable you like, along with herbs and cheeses and perhaps a smear of pesto or olive tapenade before you pile it all on.
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 carrot, grated or chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork (or 1-2 cups chopped leftover roast pork)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp ground)
- 1 tsp dried sage
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken, beef or vegetable stock
- 1 medium thin-skinned potato or 1/2 small rutabaga, peeled and diced (or 1/2-1 cup leftover mashed potato)
- 1 pkg frozen puff pastry
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, celery and carrot for 4-5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic, beef and pork; cook, breaking meat up with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. As it cooks, sprinkle with thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
- Pour in the stock and potato (or rutabaga) and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until most of the moisture has cooked off. Set aside to cool slightly.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a 14-15-inch square and transfer to a parchment-lined sheet, positioning it with half the square on the sheet and the other half hanging over (the over hang will fold over the other half).
- Pile the filling onto one half of the pastry, leaving about an inch around the edge, and fold the remaining pastry over it.
- Press down around the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Brush the top with egg and cut a few slits with a knife. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden.