What’s in a pie? Absolutely anything, that’s what. All your favourite things, to be more precise. Mac and cheese with bacon? Check. Avo, cream cheese and lime juice? Check. Cheeseburgers and pickles? Check. Their generosity and willingness to accept any filling is the first reason we just love pies.
The second is that what you can put on top is almost as versatile as what’s inside. Depending on your mood, you could top your pie with croissants and nacho chips, creamy mashed potatoes, home-made shortcrust pastry or even store-bought puff or phyllo.
Tucking the best, freshest seasonal ingredients under a golden crust is one of the most fun things to do in the kitchen. Second only to eating it, perhaps. We’ve rounded up 15 of our favourite pie recipes with some help from our foodie friends.
Tender, succulent lamb in a rich sauce flavoured with rosemary and sweet roasted garlic. Is there anything better? “Well, yes, top that with a layer of crisp, buttery puff pastry and you have pie perfection,” says cookbook author, recipe developer and food stylist Alida Ryder of Simply Delicious. See the recipe of Alida Ryder’s slow-cooked lamb, rosemary and roasted garlic pie.
Sarie food editor Herman Lensing created this Paris-inspired Almond and apple pie, which has gorgeous layers of golden apples and a cheat’s crust of puff pastry.
You will be powerless to resist this hearty autumn harvest potato and mushroom pie with a kick of salty bacon to complement its filling of earthy mushrooms, comforting potatoes and double thick cream, and dash of nutmeg. To make an equally appealing winter version, substitute the potato with butternut and sweet potato, and add sage and brown butter sauce.
Fresh strawberries, plums and peaches, all baked up in rich golden pastry: this is the fruity dessert. Did we mention there’s condensed milk in the pastry? For a more autumnal twist, prepare these berry and summer fruit lattice tartlets with seasonal apples, pears and brandy.
Layers of nutty gruyère cheese, sweet celeriac and bacon fill this easy but mind-blowing pie. Can’t find celeriac in yoursupermarket? Turnips make a suitable substitute. See the recipe for cheesy celeriac, potato and bacon pie.
This gem of a chicken, leek and mushroom pie contains thyme and mascarpone cheese and can be baked into four separate pie bowls.
One of South Africa’s favourites, this classic chicken pie is the ultimate comfort food with puff pastry to make it a little more accessible.
Blanched or roasted baby vegetables are a fresh and tasty topping to this free-form tart with new vegetables. Serve it as a pretty starter, or a magnificent meat-free main. To make a winter version, use roasted seasonal root vegetables such as butternut, sweet potato, parsnips and beetroot.
Gordon Ramsay’s fish pie with oysters and scallops comes to us from the famed chef’s book, Cooking for Friends. Says Gordon: “The scallops lend sweetness to the pie, while fresh oysters help to enrich and season the filling with their natural salt.” Plus it calls for double cream, a splash of wine and parmesan cheese.
With juicy lamb in rich gravy under a hat of golden flaky pastry, these hearty lamb shank pot pies are the ultimate winter treat. For a lighter meal, replace the spices with fresh thyme, bay leaves and chopped parsley, swap out the red wine for white, and add baby carrots, pickling onions and sugar snap peas to the stew.
Recipe developer, food writer and reviewer Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox shared this richly satisfying recipe with us. She advises you start defrosting your meat in the morning, if you’re going to start marinating that evening, and cooking the next day. “Don’t be in a rush – all good things take time.” See the recipe for Ilse van der Merwe’s springbok pie.
“A Moroccan pastilla is unique in that it is both savoury and enhanced with sweet, in the form of icing sugar, honey and orange blossom water,” says food and travel writer Ishay Govender-Ypma of Food and the Fabulous. “Despite my initial reservations, it is a spectacularly scrumptious combination.” See the recipe for Ishay Govender-Ypma’s Moroccan chicken pastillas.
Jane-Anne Hobbs’s Moroccan-spiced chicken pie is a humble version with a twist. Recipe book author Jane-Anne Hobbs of Scrumptious says, “I’m smitten by the particular fragrance of Moroccan spicing, and in this phyllo-pastry-topped pie I’ve used some of the flavours you might find in a chicken tagine. The combination of cinnamon and preserved lemon makes my tongue want to tie itself in happy knots.”
These traditional mini pork pies work well hot, with mustard mash and crunchy green beans, as a wintery dinner or cold as part of a summery picnic.
This life-saver recipe for Thekla Salmon’s open chicken and mushroom pie calls for store-bought puff pastry and a ready roasted chicken. Just make the mushroom sauce and voila! Thekla Salmon of Domestic Goddesses explains, “The combination is just right: the pastry is light and crispy, the filling is thick and juicy, and the whole dish looks pretty too. Serve it with a big salad and creamy mash for a seriously satisfying meal.”