Pie in the Sky

hampieweb

 
You will eat bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky.
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
 
                      —  Joe Hill, “The Preacher and the Slave”
 
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m ready to devote a few words to pie. Turkey is the center of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberries are the jewels that adorn the table. But pie is the not-to-be-missed culmination of this late November feast. It arrives with fanfare and seldom disappoints eaters.
 
Why pie? Like Thanksgiving itself it’s old fashioned. And (again like Thanksgiving itself) it represents a fair amount of work. Most of us don’t roll out pie crust every day so when we do it’s an event. At their best Thanksgiving pies are a family effort, made with love and many hands.
 
Pie is also ideal fare for this time of year when skies darken and breezes blow. It fills us, warms us, and comforts us as November chills our bones.
 
So—my next couple of posts will be pre-Thanksgiving pie recipes. The first one actually isn’t precisely for Thanksgiving proper since it’s a main-dish pie made with ham. (I’m always willing to stray from turkey, but I find that my family simply won’t consider any other main dish.)
 
It would be great for Thanksgiving Eve, however, or for one of those days after Thanksgiving when you just can’t look at a piece of turkey any longer, let alone consider eating it.
 
This ham pie is adapted from one created by Lucinda Finck of Heath, Massachusetts. I found it in The Heath Fair Cookbook, a staple of my cookbook shelf. If you don’t have fresh herbs to include, you may do without them or use a smaller quantity of dried herbs. The fresh ones really do taste wonderful in the pie, however.
 
Herbed Ham Pie
 
Ingredients:
 
for the filling:
 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if your ham is very salty)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
several shakes of the pepper grinder
1 small onion, finely minced
2 cups milk
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2-1/2 cups diced ham
1 cup cooked peas
1/2 cup cooked carrots
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
 
for the crust:
 
1 cup flour
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
a handful of parsley, minced
1/4 cup cold butter
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
 
First prepare the filling: melt the butter. Blend in the flour, salt, mustard, and pepper. Add the onions and milk. Cook until thick.
 
Stir in the ham, egg pieces, vegetables, and thyme. Pour the filling into a 2-quart casserole dish.
 
Next, make the pastry: in a bowl combine the flour, cheese, salt, and parsley. Cut in the butter. Add the water until it forms a ball, and gently roll it out on a lightly floured board until it is large enough to cover the casserole dish. Place it on top.
 
Bake the pie for 20 to 30 minutes, until most of the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Serves 4 to 6.
 
tweb2
 

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4 Responses to “Pie in the Sky”

  1. This sounds delicious.

  2. tinkyweisblat says:

    It is–and folks with lactose problems can use an aged Italin cheese instead of the cheddar………

  3. Libby says:

    Sounds delicious, and I like the idea of the cheddar in the crust.

    We had another Stuffing skirmish here yesterday. Oh how I long for the quiet days of summer!

  4. What a wonderful site you have here.I completely lost track of time while I was reading through your posts.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I’d love to guide our readers to your site if you won’t mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it’s all set, Thanks!

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