Today is January 23rd, National Pie Day, the day America celebrates everything we love about pie.
It’s a great idea, one worthy of our indulgence. But I have often wondered what possessed the fine folks – who had the otherwise good sense to set aside a day for pie – to choose the month in question.
Indeed, unless I’m missing something, January has about as much claim to pie as July has to eggnog.
What pie, or pies, are we to consider on January 23rd? I-Don’t-Even-Need-The-Ice-Box Ice Box Pie? Blizzard Pie? (The eastern part of our nation will need that recipe this weekend.) Please-Not-Another-Apple Pie?
Excuse me, but wouldn’t August…or perhaps October – when we’re flush with fresh, juicy fruit – seem to be a better fit?
No, there’s really only one pie that comes to mind in January – one that resonates with all of us when the temperature dips – and that’s pot pie. Warm and saucy, meaty and flaky, it’s got all the right adjectives for this time of year.
So how about we celebrate National Pie Day and the chilly weeks ahead with Moroccan Lamb Pot Pie (and since you’re going to ask anyway, of course you can use beef instead.)
What’s it taste like? Imagine your favorite meaty stew with a whole lineup of exotic spices and favorite herbs like curry, cumin, allspice, ginger, fennel seed and rosemary.
You can almost smell it already, can’t you?
Brown your meat, add a boatload of veggies, then slow simmer everything in wine and beef stock. Pour a little wine for yourself and enjoy the moment. We’ll add a bit of thickener to give the sauce body. Now cool it all down. The hard part’s done, and the house smells like heaven.
Now you’ve got a choice to make: one crust or two? There’s no right answer, and I love my pot pies either way. If you’re feeling a little lazy, just use a top crust like I did for the pie pictured here. You’ll save some time and need less pastry. But if you and your gang are hardcore crust-aceans, you know what you have to do.
If you’re making 4 or 5 double crust pot pies, I would prepare a batch of Double Crust Shortening Pie Dough (click, then scroll way down) or the shells, and a separate batch of one of the above for the lids. Finally, this makes a perfectly acceptable one-pie dish, if you’d prefer to keep it simple and use a single 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan or similar-size casserole.
If it sounds like I’m hedging with regards to the individual pies, it’s because the exact amount of dough you’ll need depends on the size of your little pie pans, which can vary anywhere from 1 to nearly 2 cups in capacity.
So there you have it – a January pie you can really sink your teeth into, and one that makes perfect sense for National Pie Day. Though I’m not sure it’s what the creators of National Pie Day had in mind, or if they’d even approve.
But I do know this: it’s hard to argue with with a savory pot pie that warms you to the core and puts a big smile on your face.
RECIPE NOTES: As you may or may not have guessed, this Moroccan Lamb Pot Pie recipe is one of the more than 100 savory pies in my latest book, Dinner Pies (Harvard Common Press) which was released just before the holidays. If you love dinner pies as much as I do – hand pies and turnovers, galettes, quiches, pot pies like this one, shepherd’s pies, meat pies, savory strudels and cobblers – you’ll absolutely adore this savory collection. If you’d like to learn more about Dinner Pies, just click here. By the way, just this week Tulsa World had a nice write up on Dinner Pies, if you’d care to read it.
OTHER NOTES: The newly revised edition of my Maple Syrup Cookbook is also starting to make news in publications around the country. (See this recent review from the Portland Press Herald.) Decades ago, the little self-published version of this book helped launch my career. The gorgeous
new edition bears little physical resemblance to my original book, but the best recipes are still there – along with a dozen new ones – not to mention a ton of information about maple syrup legend and lore, profiles of maple producers across North America, new grading standards, and so much more of interest to cooks.