Just the word is comforting.
There is perhaps no segment of society that is untouched by pie. Every socioeconomic, trade and professional demographic has their version of this iconic dessert. Elaborate and complex pies grace the tables of the wealthy and influential, while humble but tasty pie delights those sitting around a plain, rustic table. The most important ingredient is the skill and love of the baker.
Pie is woven into human DNA, stretching back in history to Old Kingdom Egypt. Evidence of a pie-like pastry has even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Modern pie gurus argue the merits of flaky versus mealy pie dough, double crust, lattice or solid tops, single crust, meringue or whipped cream toppings. Weighty texts are written providing recipes for endless fillings, from classic fruit and nut, to creams and custards. I've even seen a method for vinegar pie!
To me, the versatility of pie is its one of its best virtues. Not only can pie offer sweet treats, its concept is also a powerhouse on the savory side of the kitchen. Meat pies, pot pies and hand pies provide countless possibilities for chefs and homemakers alike. Savory pies can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature; adding to their all-around appeal.
Today's recipe is from Family Circle magazine- probably from the early 90s. Its an interesting take on the classic Greek pie, spanakopita. Traditionally a mixture of spinach, feta and lemon, wrapped in a phyllo package, spanakopita is light, but filling, nutritious and delicious. Phyllo is a paper-thin dough that is brushed with melted butter and layered together to provide structure and stability. Commercially, phyllo is available in the frozen dough section of your grocery store, and directions are printed on the box.
As with any formal recipe, feel free to make this your own. Vegetarians can remove the meat component and add extra vegetables, or a soy meat substitute. Meat lovers may prefer another type of ground protein; lamb would be wonderful!
The Rediscovered Recipe Box #12- Spinach & Chicken Pie
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/4 pounds ground chicken
3 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
8 sheets (18x13 inches) phyllo dough, thawed, halved crosswise (13x9 inches)
1. heat oven to 375. Grease 13x9x2-inch pan. Melt butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion; reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes. Add chicken; cook 8 minutes until no longer pink. Add spinach, salt, pepper, nutmeg and pepper flakes; cook 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in cheese, eggs and oregano.
2. Place half sheet phyllo in bottom of pan. Coat with cooking spray. Repeat with 7 more half sheets, coating each sheet. Spread spinach mixture over top. Repeat with remaining 8 half sheets. Cut top layer in 8 equal pieces.
3. Bake in 375 oven until browned, 45 minutes.
One note about phyllo. Because of its delicate, flaky nature, phyllo should be cut into portions before baking.