Few dishes are more comforting than the classic potpie, with its piping-hot interior and perfect marriage of meat and pastry. Today, updated renditions are appearing on area restaurant menus with gourmet fillings like rabbit, duck, steak and stout.
Savory pies, regardless of shape or contents, are also great for entertaining; they’re a rustic addition to any holiday spread and make an exquisite main course when paired with a bright, crisp salad. Four local chefs agree, and here they share their favorite recipes, along with reasons they love them.
Sweet Lucy’s Pies
Lindsey Lawing, Owner
Reata bartender and passionate baker Lindsey Lawing made rounds last summer at local farmers markets selling her sweet and savory pies after launching Sweet Lucy’s Pies, named for her baby daughter. Rustic varieties included summer squash, tomato and corn pudding. She says butternut squash and sage is a classic combination that reminds her of Christmas: “It gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling.”
In this recipe, fresh sage pan-fried in butter adds a velvety, aromatic finish to the pie, while a pairing of cranberry-tinged kale salad makes for a Christmas dinner-worthy meal.
Stir Crazy Baked Goods
Robbie Werner, Owner
“We’re not big meat-eaters at my house,” says Robbie Werner, owner of Near Southside’s Stir Crazy Baked Goods. “Wintertime is all about comfort food, and this is just as hearty as a pie with meat.”
Werner uses a hefty mix of winter vegetables (5 cups of any varieties will work), including Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes instead of the traditional potpie medley of potatoes, carrots and peas.
“Those are lighter, and we wanted to do something seasonal and delicious,” she says. “And because a potpie is very old school, the buttermilk dressing is a standout to pair it with because it’s so classic.”
Cynthia Chippendale, Owner and chef
“Whenever the weather turns cold and we move into December, I always think of tourtière, a classic French-Canadian meat pie,” says Cynthia Chippendale, owner of downtown Arlington’s farm-to-market focused Potager Cafe, where guests are asked to pay what they feel each meal is worth. “I have wonderful memories of coming in, dusting the snow off my coat and tucking in to a warm slice accompanied by a delicious apple chutney and side salad — and a glass of red wine, of course.”
Her rendition of the dish, traditionally served on Christmas Eve, is stuffed with ground pork and beef and grated potatoes along with herbs and spices like cloves and savory. Chippendale insists that if you don’t have a spice or two on the list, “don’t worry about it; it will still be delicious.”
David McMillan, Executive Chef
With an unlikely melding of hard-boiled eggs, ham and horseradish pickles, David McMillan’s British-inspired ploughman’s pie surprises with satisfying substance and considerable heft. (This is one the guys will especially love.)
“It’s very stout, very sturdy,” he says of the calzone-shaped hand pie. “We’re a pub, in essence, so this is pub food essentially designed to help soak up alcohol.”
Pair with McMillan’s tart green salad dressed with tarragon balsamic vinaigrette, and reach for a bulky beer to wash it all down.