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Mutton pies can be broadly defined as a dish involving mutton that has been baked in some type of pastry shell. A classic English mutton pie is generally a large dish containing mutton, gravy and spices in a pie shell that is made with suet. Mince pie was once made with mutton, although the crust included some sugar and was sweet, and sometimes had dried fruit inside, as well. Squab pie was once made from mutton and included apples and a sweet crust, as well. Indian mutton pies use leavened breads or have English influences and use savory pastry dough.
The classic recipe for mutton pies involves very little work. The pie shell is made from dough consisting of hot water, flour and suet or lard. This dough can either be lined in the bottom of the cooking dish or made so it only covers the top. The ingredients inside are chopped mutton, sometimes minced depending on the size of the pan, gravy from the mutton and some onions, salt and pepper. Scottish versions tend to be smaller, single-serving sizes and can be eaten without utensils.
An old recipe for mince pies actually qualifies them as mutton pies. Minced mutton was used as the base for the filling, sometimes with other meats. The pies were spiced with nutmeg, cloves, salt, pepper and dried fruits such as raisins. Suet also was added to the filling. It became traditional to eat mince pies during the Christmas holiday season, although some of the ingredients have changed over time and they aren't often made with mutton as a main ingredient in the early 21st century.
One version of squab pie uses mutton as the filling. These mutton pies are cooked in a dish with pastry on the top of the filling but not under or around it. The mutton is mixed with sliced apples and onions and baked. There are versions of squab pie that do contain squab, although it is thought that the use of mutton and apples was intended to simulate this taste.
In India, mutton is regularly used in several dishes. There are Indian mutton pies, although they might have developed through the influence of the English. One version involves layering mutton with garlic, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and butter or ghee in a pan and then placing leavened wheat bread that has been soaked in water or milk on top and baking it until completed.
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