"Savory pies are like a well-loved blanket: warm, satisfying, and marvelously easy to snuggle into"
- Greg Henry
As soon as I got an e-mail about reviewing this cookbook, I was in. Hot, flaky, comforting pies is a food group that I totally live for. After a day of snow, wind and cold, coming into the house is something special. It fills the house with a smell that gets the tongue salivating and the stomach rumbling. Pulling it out of the over with a golden crust and steam rolling off the top is as much a feast for the eyes as this meal is for the stomach.
Man, I love hot pies.
Greg Henry's Savory Pies: Delicious Recipes for Seasoned Meats, Vegetables and Cheeses Baked in Perfectly Flaky Crusts makes sure you get the chance to explore a wide variety of pies. Almost disappointingly, there isn't a section for the usual fruit-filled variety, but by the end, you don't really miss them.
Instead, this cookbook has them all broken down into crusts, appetizers, meats and seafood, vegetarian and some hand pies. Henry fights expectations by not having every pie inside of the typical pie crust, but also has tarts, phyllo cups, flatbreads, and other pastries. The cookbook is littered with tasty pictures, so you have a fairly good idea of what you're cooking.
The recipes are also well written and laid out, and often tips and tricks and be found in the side bar. For those of you with an eye for the finer things in life, there are also a few wine pairings to be found. All in all, a very well thought out cookbook, and one welcome on my shelf!
He also has a wide variety of ingredients and options, so each recipe really could be interchanged fairly easily. You have to enjoy the flavour combinations that he has set up in this book as well. I had plans to make a rabbit pie with thyme, but ran out of time. I still have it planned though, as I'm not quite sure what else to do with the rabbit carcass sitting in my freezer. I was just happy it didn't come with ears...
However, I was scrambling for a tasty meal one night, and happened to remember this beauty! Not a lot of effort, not a lot of time, but a beautiful tasty outcome. Cobbler's are named so because the top is supposed to resemble England's cobbled streets. It's another perfect example of a type of pie to be found in this book that doesn't require the usual crust.
Sausage and Red Pepper Polenta Cobbler
Farmers Sausage - 3-4, removed from casings
Salt and Pepper
Onion - halved and sliced
Bell Peppers - 2, halved and sliced lengthwise (1/4" strips)
Flour - 1 3/4 cups
Chicken Broth - 2 cups
Tomato Paste - 2 tbsps
Spinach - 3 cups, loosely packed
Polenta (I actually swapped in cornmeal) - 1/2 cup
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Parmesan Cheese - 1 cup, grated
Butter - 6 tbsps, chilled
Heavy Cream (I swapped in milk) - 1 3/4 cups
*Henry cooks his straight in a skillet, which I lack. I swapped it out later in the recipe for a casserole dish. However, as long as you have an oven-proof skillet, cook it all in one.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until browned, breaking down with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the meat is cooked, about 10 minutes in, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove all but 2 tbsps of the sausage fat.
In the same skillet, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the pepper strips and cook for 5 more minutes.
While the onions and peppers are cooking, whisk together 1/4 cup of flour and tomato paste. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock until combined. Add to the onion mixture along with the spinach and reserved sausage. Stir in to combine, and cook for about 2 minutes until thickened and the spinach is lightly wilted. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 of flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir in to combine. Add the milk until a rough dough forms.
Drop 6-8 large mounds of the cornmeal mixture onto the sausage mixture with about an inch of spacing between them. Brush the top of the biscuits with milk, then place in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the mixture is bubbling.