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Savory pies

By Staff | Apr 8, 2019

Big Buck” Stromboli is filled with ground venison, cheese, and spices, all wrapped in a soft, yeasty dough.


GRIT Magazine

After a long, cold day, nothing is more satisfying than a warm pie, bursting with the savory delights of meat and vegetables. Cold weather just makes a body crave starch and fat. Could it be our increased need for calories in order to maintain body heat? Or perhaps once we’ve removed ourselves from the supermarket culture of food-where everything is available year-round-our body tunes into its natural wisdom of eating with the seasons. A light repast of salads and fruit suffice in the warm months; meat, cheese, and root vegetables are what we desire during the cold ones.

Whether the meat you’re craving is encased in a buttery dough, topped with mashed potatoes-or both-your body will get what it wants in these savory pies. I promise, everyone will love these creations of comfort food and come away from the dinner table rubbing their bellies.

The beauty of savory pies is that they’re endlessly versatile. Virtually any kind of meat or vegetable can be substituted according to your taste. If the recipe calls for chopped chicken), use chopped steak or leftover stew meat and beef broth if that’s what you have on hand. For ground beef or lamb, substitute ground venison, pork, or turkey if you prefer that. Though my first choice is always 100-percent homemade, if you’re short on time, you can always use store-bought crusts and doughs as well.

These pies can be made ahead of time and frozen for later consumption. What fun it would be to spend a weekend day making little meat pies for the freezer. With our hectic lives and booked schedules, soon you’ll be thankful you did.

‘Big Buck’ stromboli

My dear friend Gwen Regan loves the stromboli that her mother, Lisa Salmon, makes and described it with such enthusiasm that I asked her to tell me about its ingredients and what makes it so special.

“It’s a scrumptious little meat pie that’s addicting. I ask my mom to make it all the time,” said Regan.

There’s usually plenty of venison in the freezer at the Salmon home, so Salmon incorporates it into many different dishes. Substitute ground beef or pork if you’re not lucky enough to have venison.

Salmon found the original recipe in Missouri Conservationist from the Department of Conservation.


1 cup warm water

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt


1 pound ground venison

1 tablespoon crushed fennel seed

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

teaspoon black pepper

1 large tomato, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1 cup grated provolone cheese

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water)

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds

To make dough

In large bowl, whisk together water, yeast, and honey. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy. Stir in olive oil.

In separate bowl, mix together flour and salt. Add half to yeast mixture and stir to combine. Continue adding remaining flour until most is incorporated. Turn out onto floured surface and knead in remaining flour. Knead for an additional 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and tacky. Place dough in oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

To make filling

Brown meat in large skillet with fennel seed, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Set aside to cool.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

To assemble

Punch down dough and divide in half. On floured surface, roll out each half to approximately -inch thickness in 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheets. Spread half the meat on each, leaving 1-inch border. Top each with half the tomato, half the bell pepper and half the cheeses. Brush egg wash on long side of dough, farthest from you.

Beginning with long side closest to you, roll up stromboli and tuck end under to seal. Cover lightly with tea towel and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush each top with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Yields 2 rolls, serves 12.

Scandinavian meat pies

According to Beatrice Ojakangas in The Great Scandinavian Baking Book (University of Minnesota Press, 1999), these potato-crusted meat pasties are traditional in Finland’s western province of Satakunta.


2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 sticks unsalted butter

cup cooked, mashed potatoes, with no added butter or milk

5 tablespoons cold water


2 cups cooked meat (ground or cubed beef, venison, etc.)

4 tablespoons butter

2 onions, minced

cup sour cream

Salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten (for glaze)

To make dough

In large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until coarse meal results. Blend in mashed potatoes and cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together. Press dough into ball; wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

To make filling

In large skillet, cook meat. Drain off excess fat.

In another skillet, heat butter. Add onions and saute over medium heat until soft. Stir into meat with sour cream. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble

On floured surface, turn out dough. Roll out slightly, then divide into four equal parts. Roll out each piece to 9-inch round; transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Divide and spoon filling evenly in middle of each dough round. Fold edges over filling and press to seal – the seam should be on top. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool slightly before serving, or serve at room temperature. Serve with horseradish sauce or mustard. Yields 4 individual meal-sized pies.

Shepherd’s pie

1 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled


1 large carrot

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

cup red wine

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds ground lamb (grassfed is best)

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

cup chicken stock


cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons butter

1 egg yolk

Salt and pepper

cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Scrub potatoes clean and place in large pot of salted water. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with fork.

Prep filling ingredients: Grate carrot and onion, using box grater or food processor; mince garlic; and open can of tomato paste and bottle of wine.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In large, deep skillet, heat olive oil for 1 minute. Add lamb and stir, breaking into fine mince. Add rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper, and continue stirring. Add carrot and onion, and stir well. Everything should be well-incorporated. Add Worcestershire, stir, add tomato paste, stir, then add red wine and let simmer for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and cook for another minute. Turn off heat and set aside.

Now the potatoes should be done. Drain and return to pan. Add cream, butter, and egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mash together, skins and all, and set aside.

Scoop filling mixture into deep casserole dish (or if you used an ovenproof skillet, just smooth down the meat mixture) and carefully pipe or spread mashed potatoes on top using back of large spoon. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top. Drag fork over top of potatoes to create peaks and valleys.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until top is nicely browned. Broil for 1 or 2 minutes at the end, if desired. Serve immediately. Yields 8 servings.

Chicken pot pie


1 cups all-purpose flour

teaspoon salt

cup butter (1 stick) or lard, or a combination

5 tablespoons ice water, divided


2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup sliced celery or fennel

1 cup chopped carrots

cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

1 cup chicken broth

cup whole milk or half-and-half

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken

1 cup frozen peas

cup fresh parsley

To make crust

Stir together flour and salt in medium bowl. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice water over mixture and toss with fork. Sprinkle additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, over mixture until it’s moistened and comes together in a ball. Refrigerate pastry until filling is ready.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

To make filling

In saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery, and carrots, and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender.

Stir in flour, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in broth and milk, and cook until thick and bubbly. Stir in chicken, peas, and parsley.

Butter 2-quart casserole dish or 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish.

Turn pastry dough out onto floured surface and roll out dough 1 inch larger than dish. Pour hot filling into dish and place pastry on top. Use fork to crimp edges, flute with your fingers, or just trim edges for a rustic-style crust. Use sharp knife to cut slits in crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Yields 8 servings.

For more mouthwatering recipes, visit us at grit.com.

Excerpted from GRIT. To read more articles fromGRIT, please visit www.grit.com or call 866-803-7096 to subscribe. Copyright 2019 by Ogden Publications Inc.

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