Pies have always had their fans, but it’s a food usually offered as an alternative to cakey goods. One of the main best selling points is the ratio of filling to crust you get in a pie that far outweighs the filling and frosting ratio in a similar cake. But that’s all desserts–what about pie as your meal?
Probably the first thing you think of when considering a main-dish or savory pie is quiche, that brunch staple, or else a chicken pot pie might come to mind. I admit an old episode of Emeril and his crawfish cheesecake is also lurking in the back of my head, so I was more than a little curious to see what inspiration there might lie in Greg Henry’s Savory Pies: Delicious Recipes for Seasoned Meats, Vegetables and Cheeses Baked in Perfectly Flaky Pie Crusts.
I was not disappointed.
The first thing to notice is that this is not just a book of pie fillings. Henry goes beyond the simple single- or double-crust pies with fluted edges into tarts, turnovers, pizzas, and pastelles. Pretty much anything that could be put into or under a crust or covering was considered fair game. There are sections for meat & seafood pies, hand pies, vegetarian options, appetizers, and, of course, a set of pie crust recipes to carry you through.
On New Year’s Day we got our cabbage quotient in with his Sweet Sausage Cabbage Pie with Dill and Feta (p.59). Another night found us feasting on a Sausage and Red Pepper Polenta Cobbler (p.93), a cast iron skillet concoction with fluffy cornmeal dumplings covering its surface. Seeing as we’re fans of breakfast for dinner, the Irish Breakfast Pie (p. 101) with it’s cheeky eggs poking out of the pierced top crust was a must-try for us, and very filling with it’s layers of thinly-sliced potatoes. About the only thing that could have improved that pie would have been some grated cheese in between the potato layers.
His Arichoke Clafouti (p.125) was akin to eating a slice of warm artichoke dip with a barely-there crust of breadcrumbs. And “The Oggie” Steak and Stilton Pasty recipe (p.156) sounded so good with it’s steak, potatoes, turnips, and cheese that even though I didn’t feel like making so many individual hand pies that night, it was just as good in a store-bought gluten free pie crust.
As for the pie crust recipes, they are simple and easy to follow and I was quite surprised at how tasty his Gluten-Free Pie Pastry recipe (p.20) really was, especially as this book was being tried-out when I was early into my low-FODMAP diagnostic diet phase. And one of the best parts of gluten-free* pie crusts? You simply cannot overwork the dough as there’s no gluten there to toughen up on you! It also didn’t hurt that I’d received a Cuisinart for Christmas and am overjoyed at how quickly a pie crust comes together in that thing!
And for those who consider savory pies a little to low-brow for an elegant supper, there are also wine pairings for each recipe, written by Grant Henry, “with an eye toward easy-to-find wines, staying away from wines that would require selling a major organ to purchase them.” Now that’s my kind of wine pairing!
When considering whether a cookbook is a hit or miss with me, it’s not just about what I’ve already made from the book but how many recipes I still have flagged that I want to make as I’m writing up my review. Based on the number of sticky notes fanning out from the book’s pages, Savory Pies definitely falls into the hit category. In fact, as soon as I find a good gluten-free puff pastry dough recipe, many more delicious things will be made from this book.
I was provided a copy of Savory Pies for the purpose of review. All opinions and experiences expressed above are my own.
*For the record, gluten poses no problem on a low-FODMAP diet as gluten is a protein and FODMAPs are particular carbohydrates. Sources of gluten like wheat, barley, and rye, however, do also contain the problematic-for-some FODMAPs and starting with GF products or recipes can be a good start. Thus ends the FODMAP disclaimer.