Let them eat pie!

By contributing writer Jacqueline Twa

We are well into summer; why wouldn’t I be obsessed with meat pies?

I blame my endless production of winter comfort food on the weather. Anyone who lives on the West Coast knows what I’m talking about! Up until a couple of weeks ago we had not been graced with more than half a dozen spring days let alone any long lazy days of summer. Thoughts of picnics with crispy fried chicken and potato salad, or a late afternoon barbeque holding an overstuffed burger out from the front of your shirt in order to save yourself from the usual mustard coloured stain down the front have been far from top of mind.

Okay where was I? Oh yes…meat pies.

Personally, I love meat pies and have been making them ever since I was a kid and first learned to make pastry. Nowadays, I often try to shake it up and add new elements to my recipe repertoire. This penchant for changing things up all the time to avoid boredom has resulted in a collection of morphed recipes that originated from classics. For example; often I add curry and turmeric to my chicken pot pies. I have also been known to use Ras el Hanout and grated orange zest to beef pot pies. I love classic French Canadian Tourtière, Shepherd’s Pie and English Steak and Kidney Pie. I love Jamaican Patties, Scottish Pasties, Indian Samosas, American Pizza Pops and even Chinese Barbeque Pork Buns which arguably are a kind of pie (okay let’s not fight – they are a pastry).

Whatever type of meat pie happens to be your favourite, the best part about making them is that they are super versatile and hard to screw up.

My Mother used to make a fairly simple single crust meat pie called “Cheeseburger Pie” which was a weeknight dinner staple in our house. Whenever we walked in the door and inquired about what we were having for dinner and she told us Cheeseburger Pie, we would all cheer!

I can still envision her tattered recipe card, written in her beautiful hand.  Stained withy decades of use, I know I still have it somewhere and while writing this I have vowed to dig it out to remind me of those long ago family dinners.

Now as for the pastry potion of this program, I am a firm believer in good pastry. I believe in making my own from scratch and I believe in using shortening for pastry. No butter crust for this girl – especially in a savoury pie.

If the idea of making pastry strikes fear into your heart, there are variety of decent ready-made pie doughs available so you don’t have any excuse: hang the weather and go make meat pies!

Here is my basic pie crust recipe along with a few of my favorite meat pies (including my Mom’s kid pleasing Cheeseburger Pie):

Jax’s Basic Meat Pie Crust
Jax’s French Canadian Tourtière
Jax’s Chicken Pot Pie
Mom’s Cheeseburger Pie