Homespun Hospitality – Cooking Up an Impromptu Humble (Savory) Pie

Homespun Hospitality – Cooking Up an Impromptu Humble (Savory) Pie

Humble savory pies, made from leftovers and pantry staples, are quickly becoming a delicious, easy, and affordable option for last-minute dinners here at our farm. These pies are easy to reheat, and can be cooked all in one dish, which means they are great to take to sick or homebound family members. Savory pies can be made quickly with little forethought, making them the perfect meal for friends who drop by right at dinnertime, and they will heat up cold bellies on those days when you find yourself unexpectedly iced in with very little reserves. They are also great meals to cook with the help of your kids because so many of the ingredients are pre-prepared – the entire dish is more about assembling the right ingredients than cooking from scratch.

Late winter has been a frustrating season for everyone around our place: a mid-size, mid-century farmhouse we moved to five months ago with our work cut out for us. Confident that as well seasoned do-it-yourselfers, we would be able to knock our modest list in a handful of weekends. But as new country dwellers, we greatly underestimated the logistics of living 20 minutes from the nearest hardware and grocery stores and our energy levels, now a good 10 years older than the last time we took on a remodel.

Cabin fever has set in, along with the last round of winter colds. The weather isn’t quite warm enough to get started on outdoor projects in the limited daylight after work and school, and inside, well our inside projects are starting to taunt us with their never-ending list of demands. The kitchen cabinets have arrived but are not installed. The floor is laid but the baseboards are not. The trim has been primed but not painted. And I can’t even discuss the wallpaper issue without tears.

As it turns out, life moves on and waits for no one’s remodel project—including impromptu houseguests, friends getting sick, relatives having babies, or snow days—which is why finding a way to whip-up hearty, hot meals from what I have on hand has become essential to our surviving the season.

One thing that makes these three humble but amazing meals so wonderful is how interchangeable their ingredients are. Once you learn to make one, you can pretty much make the other two in your sleep. You can tailor them to the meats and vegetables that are in season and in your refrigerator and plan bigger meals such as Sunday roast beef without fear of having a refrigerator full of uneaten leftovers going to waste. Recently I made a cottage pie using extra ground meat from a spaghetti dinner.

SAVORY PIE 101

Cottage Pie IngredientsIngredients

The Filling

  • 2 cups of Leftover Fully Cooked Meat or Poultry
    – For Cottage Pie: leftover ground beef, pot-roast shredded or ground venison
    – For Shepherd’s Pie: leftover ground lamb or mutton shredded
    – For Birdie Pot Pie: leftover roasted or baked chicken or turkey chopped or shredded
  • 1 cup leftover cooked vegetables (the vegetables can be steamed, roasted, blanched or sautéed. Just not deep-fried please.)
    – Veggies that work best are: green beans, lima beans, English peas, broccoli, corn, carrots, mushrooms, pearl onions, bell peppers and celery
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 cup gravy: brown gravy for the meat pies and cream of mushroom for the poultry

(If you don’t have these on hand, gravy and homemade cream of mushroom are extremely easy to whip up. This is my favorite Brown Gravy recipe and this one for Cream of Mushroom works great)

The Crust

For Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie, you will need:

2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes

1 cup of grated cheddar cheese

For Pot Pie 

Use your favorite recipe for flaky pie crust. (I love this recipe, minus the sugar.)

Divide the dough in half – one half for the bottom and one for the top.

Cottage Pie Layers with GravyPie Assembly

  1. Press half of your mashed potatoes or pie crust dough in the bottom of a nine inch casserole dish or large iron skillet. 
  2. Next, began layering the filling in the following order: one cup meat or poultry, all the veggies (including the onions,) followed by the second cup of meat or poultry, then cover with the gravy.
  3. Top with the remaining crust or potatoes. For the cottage and shepherd’s pies top with cheddar cheese.
  4. Bake in a 425° Fahrenheit oven for 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  5. Once out of the oven let the pie sit for 15 minutes, allowing it to set up.
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