Pie for Dinner
Ever since I was a little kid, I loved eating pie crust. I wasn’t a big fan of pie as a whole-I didn’t really like the fillings-but the crust alone, or with a little cinnamon sugar, is delicious. And pie as a savory meal is great! Making a very good pie crust is not hard and is actually really quick. I like to whip up a pie crust and put some tasty fillings in it for a quick and tasty meal. You can make hand pies, pot pies, or just an open faced dinner pie.
*Edited 9/21/10: I have to say that since I wrote this post I have realized that pie crusts with butter instead of shortening can actually be good, and I will admit that I like them better now! Chalk it up to being an ever-evolving cook. Butter seems harder to me to work with, and harder to roll out, but the flavor is definitely better and I think that it is a healthier option. So if you want to use butter in the recipe below, just do an even substitution for the shortening and you’ll be set!
First, start by making the crust. With pie crust, the ingredients and recipe are pretty simple, its the technique that makes it good. Start off with 2 cups of white flour and a teaspoon of salt in a bowl, and add 3/4 cup shortening to it, with the shortening cut into pieces. (I chill the shortening in the freezer for a few minutes before using). Cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender or two forks.
Then add very very cold water by the tablespoon full – start with 3 tbsp.- and mix with a fork until the crust is not crumby anymore and will hold together in a ball. Don’t mix more than you have to to get the water evenly distributed. Then form the dough into a ball and put into the fridge while you make the filling.
Dinner pie filling can be whatever you are in the mood for, or whatever is left over in the fridge. I think the dinner pie was invented to use leftovers from the previous nights’ dinner. Basically, you want enough volume to fill the pie, and enough moisture to keep it tasty. If you are doing a hand pie, a little less moisture keeps it easy to eat, but if you are doing a pot pie, you can make it as soupy as you want. For this time, I used some veggies and some adzuki beans and mixed them up together with some butter and herbs – dried parsley and oregano. For the sauce, I took about 1/2 cup milk, and mixed that with 1 tbsp corn starch and mixed that into the filling mixture, then cooked it over medium heat until the sauce was thick. That’s it! A great combination that I use a lot is adding curry to the sauce mixture, and cooking the filling veggies and/or meat with some onion. Very tasty.
Now time to roll out the pie dough.
I use a silpat mat and a rolling pin, but pie dough is accessible to everyone! You can roll it out on a cleaned, floured countertop or a flat cookie sheet, and if you have no rolling pin, try out various cans, measuring cups, etc, until you find something that will roll it out. It doesn’t have to be perfectly even, just flat enough to make the pie. For this pie I cut the dough into a circle, using a big bowl to score the dough into a good shape.
Then fill your pie, folding the dough over the filling for a hand pie, or lining a pie pan with the dough and then adding the filling, and putting another layer of dough on top for a pot pie, and bake at 350 until the crust is light brown and the filling is bubbly!