Karen Wright dives into the debate on what makes a pie a pie

When is a pie not a pie, that is the question? I like a controversial topic, so here we go, the pie debate. Some people say that a pie must have a top and bottom crust to be a true pie.

They say that if there is just a slab of pastry on the top it is just a casserole with a pastry lid! What about dishes with pie in their name but no pastry at all? Shepherd's pie, cottage pie, fish pie, these are some of our classic dishes and the pie part is mashed potatoes!

I sit on the fence with this one, I don’t mind at all, they are all delicious in my book. When I think back to my school days the dinner ladies would bring out massive trays full of pie, meat pie, cheese pie, I just remember pie day was everyone's favorite.

It is an interesting fact that the taste, smell and texture of food can spark not just memories of eating food but often the place and the setting.

The pastry used in a pie can be short crust, puff, suet or hot water crust. They all have very different textures. The hot water crust is the pastry used in our beloved pork pies and is very sturdy and quite easy to make.

All that is involved is boiling water and fat together and pouring into flour to make a dough. You need to work fast to shape it while it is warm as the cooler the pastry becomes the more difficult it is to handle.

I recently made a batch of pies using hot water crust and they were scrumptious. I used butter instead of lard for the fat and added thyme to the flour and some salt.

The filling was left over gammon from the Sunday roast cooked with leeks, mushrooms, mustard, white wine and cream.

This was comfort food at its best, just the sort of thing to keep you going these cold winter days of course the pies would be delicious without meat just add extra mushrooms and garlic and voila, it is a vegetarian pie!

We are entering December, Christmas is just around the corner, I need to make some pies of another kind, Mince pies! !

I am going to make a few batches for the freezer, I like to top mine with frangipane rather than pastry, there you go, controversial again, perhaps I will share my recipe with you next week!

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