A meat pie is a pie which is made with meat such as pork, beef, venison, or fish. Typically a meat pie is made as a closed pie, meaning that it has both a bottom and a top crust. The bottom crust is often made with a strongly reinforced dough so that it will not fail, while the top crust may be made with a more conventional flaky pie dough. Meat pies can be found firmly entrenched in the culinary tradition of Europe, with a variety of meats and flavorful additions. They are typically associated with more lower class dining, as meat pies are often filling, simply flavored, and somewhat messy.
Meat pies are included in a tradition of savory pies made with the intent of being served as a main course, rather than a dessert option. The basis of the pie is, of course, meat, which is cooked before being mixed with the other pie ingredients, to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked and soft enough to cut with a fork. One of the most popular variants on the meat pie is the steak pie, a dish which is popular in England, and made by stewing steak in a rich beef gravy before pouring it into a pie crust.
A meat pie is often made with vegetable ingredients to help fill it, such as carrots, potatoes, and celery. The vegetables are typically parbroiled or partially precooked as well, so that they are soft after baking. These vegetables make the pie cheaper, but they also create a less heavy meat pie, breaking up the dense protein of the meat. For financially struggling cooks, vegetables can also help to conceal a scarcity of meat.
The meat and vegetables of choice are mixed together with a flavorful gravy. Usually flour or another thickener is mixed into the pie filling so that it will not be runny, and it is poured into a sturdy bottom pie crust. The top pie crust is crimped on and slashed to allow air to escape while the meat pie is baking, and the pie is cooked in an oven until the crusts are golden brown.
A typical meat pie for a large family would be made in a single big pie dish. Depending on the pie and the region, the meat pie may be eaten plain or served with condiments like ketchup, mustard, salt, vinegar, or chutney. Cooks also make individual meat pies, designed to be eaten alone or packed as a snack. These individual meat pies are sometimes called “pot pies,” because they are often served in the individual tins, or pots, which they are baked in.