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Corned beef pie is a savory pie made with corned, or salted, beef. Although most recipes now call for canned corned beef, the original meat pies were made of leftover meat that was diced and baked in pie crust. Corned beef pie also contains vegetables, potatoes, spices and sauces. This dish can be eaten hot or can be eaten as a cold lunchtime meal or snack.
Savory pies, as opposed to sweet pies, are a traditional favorite. They were considered an easy way to carry a meal on trips or to work. The crust was an edible wrapper for the meal of meat, vegetables and potato. Sweet pies, such as fruit-based pies, are a relatively recent version of the traditional pie.
Corned beef is salted beef; salting was once a popular method of preserving meat. Other meat pies or savory pies were made with roasted beef or mutton. Cottage pies are made with minced beef, and shepherd's pies with mutton. The recipes for these pies differ from that of the corned beef pie, in that they are made without pie crusts. They both are baked in deep dishes and have a layer of mashed potatoes spread on top of the meat filling.
It is relatively easy for a person to make corned beef pie. One sautés onions and possibly garlic in oil until the onions are soft. Carrots and celery are then added to the skillet, and later on, tomato sauce, spices and Worcestershire sauce are stirred in. The last items to go in the pot are minced or diced corned beef and peas.
While this mixture is simmering, a short crust pie is prepared. Many people use commercially made pie crusts for convenience. The bottom crust is set into a pie dish, and the meat mixture is spooned into it. The top crust is placed on top of the mixture, with vents cut into the top to allow steam to escape. The pie is then baked, and it is served hot out of the oven.
This dish is a popular winter warmer and a relatively fancy way to serve leftover meats. It also is excellent when eaten cold. Slices of corned beef pie are packed in bagged lunches and are a staple in picnic baskets.
There are many variations in recipes for this dish. Some recipes call for tomato sauce, and others call for ketchup. Wine or liquors can be added to the meat mixture or to the ingredients for the pie crust. One can also add sharp or mild cheeses to the filling.