It's Pie Time

We’ve been familiar with pies since our childhood – Little Jack Horner in his corner pulling a plum out of his Christmas pie.

We’ve been familiar with pies since our childhood – Little Jack Horner in his corner pulling a plum out of his Christmas pie, the pie with the singing four-and-twenty blackbirds, Simple Simon’s fruitless meeting with the pieman, the three little kittens whose misadventures with their mittens almost caused their mother to give them no pie, and most of us will have had pies of one kind or another to eat since we were very young.

Pies of one sort or another have a long history – sometimes with a range of ingredients, more often than not with one main ingredient. Tarts – which are open pies – come in to the equation too.

Some of the biggest pies we know about have been baked in Denby Dale in Yorkshire, North of England, where it has become a tradition to bake a huge meat and potato pie to celebrate an occasion of note, since the first one in 1788 prepared on the return of good health to George III. There have been ten of them, the most recent a Millenium pie in 2000 which was 12 metres long and weighed 12 tonnes! Doubtless you will be looking at making something a little more modest and family-sized!

Pies are a great comfort food in cold weather and some versions are great for taking off to the snow for the weekend, just requiring heating to provide a hearty meal.

The secret to a successful pie is very much in the pastry, usually short pastry, although a steak pie under a crispy flaky pastry top is a favourite. You can, of course, buy ready pastry – short, flaky or puff – in the supermarket. However, you might like to try Classic Sweet Short Pastry, Rich Short Pastry or Savoury Short Pastry, all easy to make and sure to enhance your pie, be it a main course or dessert.

A pie can still be a pie with a topping other than pastry, like Easter Fish Pie, which uses a kumara-pumpkin mash topping. Cheesy Topped Steak And Kidney Pies put a favourite combination in to individual serves.

Bacon And Cheese Tart is easy to make and it’s a taste winner for lunch or dinner. Try Beef Steak And Vegetable Pie, an upmarket version of a traditional favourite, while Kiwi Pie is a yummy tradition that does magical things for mince!

One dish dinner? Try Italian Chicken And Mushroom Pie which has a potato topping. Beef and beer are a great combination, and Ireland’s favourite drink makes Guinness Beef Pie richly brown and flavoursome. Perfect pairing makes Minted Lamb With Green Peas Pie. Pub Beef And Onion Pies uses a cheaper cut of meat and can be a one-dish pie or individual serves.

Pies are also sweet and for dessert, try One Crust Rhubarb Pie or Almond And Orange Tart the latter also adding a decadent touch to a brunch party.

So, ignore the food police and bake up a pie for family dinner – just don’t do it every night!

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