Advisory: We are in no way professionals; in fact, I’d say we’re noobs at cooking/baking/food & drink making. So we’ll have our foibles, but we make the mistakes so that you don’t have to! Plus, if we can make it, so can you!
November for us in the colonies is a time for celebrating with friends and family, and what better way to do that than with copious amounts of food! While Thanksgiving is dominated with turkey and stuffing, what do you eat for the other 29 days of the month?! Why not try a delicious take on a shepherd’s pie that takes inspiration from the land of Middle Earth? Whether you’re looking for a hearty side dish to go along with turkey dinner or just something for elevenses, luncheon, dinner or even supper, we think you’ll love this Shire Pie!
Melody and I made this delicious pie for dinner with our menfolk, recently. While chopping and sautéing comes fairly easy to us, creating the pie crust and executing the final product was a bit tricky. Definitely make sure you have all your chopping and measuring done before you get started to make your life easier!
What you’ll need:
- 1 pound whole mushrooms
- 1 pound ground sausage (we chose pork)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 Tb. flour
- 1/4 Cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
- 1 Tb. thyme
- 1 teaspoon sage
- Salt & pepper to taste
Cornbread Crust (makes enough for two pie)
- 1 3/4 Cups flour
- 3/4 Cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound cold butter
- 1/4 Cup shortening
- 1/3 – 1/4 Cup ice water
Step 1: Start by prepping the veggies; chop the mushrooms, celery stalks, carrot, garlic cloves, and onions into bite sized pieces. Chopping the mushrooms into quarters and dicing the rest makes sure everything cooks evenly. Following along with a recipe found on Middle-earth Foodie blog, Melody and I split prep tasks. Melody chopped everything and used separate bowls to make sure that we could add each veggie at the appropriate cook time.
Step 2: Prepare the dough: mix the cornmeal, salt, half the flour, and half the butter in the food processor until the mixture has the consistency of soft sand. Then add the rest of the butter and flour, add the shortening, and mix. Last, you’ll want to add the water a little at a time until you get a doughy consistency. Chill the dough until you’re ready to use it (at least a half hour).
While Melody worked on step 1, I began making the pie crust. Unfortunately, I mistook the corn grits in my cabinet for cornmeal and had to improvise a solution: I pulsed the corn grits in a food processor to create a finer, powdery consistency. I also mistakenly forgot to add the shortening, instead I added the water little by little, until the mixture came together in a doughy consistency. If you forget this step, like I did, your dough will be much stickier, and you’ll have to add more flour to bring it back into a workable form. If you correctly add in the shortening, you won’t need as much of the ice water to bring your mixture together.
Step 3: Get a large pan to medium-high heat. Add the sausage, browning the meat. Add onions and garlic at this time. Let sauté for 3 minutes. Add carrots and celery, sauté for another 5 minutes (at this time, we realized the pan we were using was too small and quickly upsized). Add the mushrooms and cook until your veggies are tender.
Step 4: Continuing with the meat filling, add in the 2 tablespoons of flour (this acts as a thickening agent). Next, add the wine and chicken stock. Bring this to a boil. Then, add your spices, stirring well. Cook for 10 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.
At this point, we preheated the oven to 375 degrees (F).
Step 5: Take out your pie dough and read that you just made enough for two pies (or maybe you caught that part earlier; unfortunately we did not). Quickly, separate the pie dough into two and roll out one half into the shape and size of your baking container (preferably a deep baking dish or pie tin).
Step 6: Scoop your pie filling into your baking dish of choice. If you haven’t rendered down enough liquid, use a slotted spoon to leave some of it behind.
**Melody and I decided to split the pie filling into two pie tins and used both halves of the pie dough.**
Step 7: Next, roll your pie crust out and then lay it on top of the dish/tin. You’ll also want to cut some slots into the crust for ventilation. I went ahead with a simpler crust while Melody got fancy with hers. She used these adorable punch out cookie cutters to create a leaf shape. She laid the cut-out leaves on top of the crust leaving the whole in the crust to allow ventilation.
Step 8: Bake for 30 minutes until your crust is browned and your filling is bubbly. We left ours for 36 minutes based on our oven. Let cool on a cooling rack, and enjoy warm!
While this recipe was delicious, we think there are places to improve. Firstly, make sure you have the right ingredients on hand. While processing the corn grits worked out fine, it did give the crust a different texture. Additionally, we definitely could have used just half of the pie dough for the amount of filling we had. Trying to split the filling in two ended up with not enough of the savory meat and veggies for the amount of crust. If you give this a go, definitely make sure you have all the right ingredients and tools necessary before you get going. Having the right size pans and baking dishes, will prevent having to make quick adjustments to your final product. Working with Melody is always a treat because this lets us problem solve and multitask! Let us know if you’re giving this a try for Thanksgiving or any of the holidays coming up!
Images via author. All images and logos of The Lord of the Rings belong to Middle-earth Enterprises.