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food & drink

The History of Hand Pies

GRAND OPENING MID-MAY! / By Rodelinde Albrecht SWEET, SAVOURY, AND OHHH SO SATISFYING / By Kathy I. Regan

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weet or savoury, hot or cold, hand pies are the perfect food any time of year. Tasty, satisfying, aromatic, and fun to eat, these D-shaped, portable meals are formed by placing a dollop of filling onto a circular piece of pastry dough – the dough is then folded in half, the edges are crimped shut, and the pies are baked (or fried in some places) until flaky and golden brown.

Russian pirozhki, Jewish knishes, Jamaican beef patties, Nigerian meat pies, Greek spanakopita, Bolivian salteñas, and on it goes.

Easy to take on the go because they require no plate or utensils to eat, hand pies make convenient, versatile meals and are a great option to have when entertaining guests. Some say it’s all about the crust – that’s where the magic lies – and we do agree this is very important, but mmmmm those fillings. Today for an appetizer or main dish, savoury hand pie fillings can include many different types of meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, and herbs in any combination. Sweet hand pies can be made with a wide array of fruits, purées, and sweet cheeses and spices, and can be eaten plain or garnished with ice cream, crème fraîche, chocolate shavings, and more. The real magic, or trick of the trade, is making sure the filling is neither too juicy so it leaks from the pastry crust, nor too dry so it is unpleasant to eat.

We found mixed information when researching the history of hand pies, but to the best of our understanding it looks as if historians have traced the roots of meat pies back to ancient Egypt and the origins of pie pastry to the Greeks. At the time the main purpose of the pastry shell was to serve as a storage and preservation container for the fillings, and were for the most part too hard to eat. During the Medieval times of England, hand pies were mostly filled with meat like beef, lamb, wild duck, and pigeon. In our culture, they trace the origins of hand pies back to nineteenth century England where they made a convenient lunch for Cornish tin miners, and once again, after the fillings (beef, potatoes, rutabaga, and onion) were consumed, the pastry was discarded. The Pilgrims who colonized America brought England’s meat-based recipes with them and it was not until the 1800s that the majority of sweet pies came into fashion. Flash forward to today and what a sweet, savoury, and ohhh-so-satisfying assortment of hand pies (and edible pastry!) we have to choose from.

Popular in many places around the world (although made in different ways), you will recognize hand pies as Mexican empanadas,

Be sure to keep an eye on Sweet and Savoury on Main’s Facebook page (see ad below) for hand pie specials.

boutique bake shop on main street in lee, ma small batch ● handcrafted on the premises daily locally sourced when possible ● scratch made

Doughnuts made by John and Debbie Scalia, formerly of Home Sweet Home Doughnuts. pastries ● savoury hand pies ● soups ● specialty cakes ● paninis ● coffee & espresso 413-243-7777 | 56 main street, lee, ma | www.sweetsavourymain.com 12

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Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Celebrate Summer 2019  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Celebrate Summer 2019  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

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