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I learned a valuable truth about baking from this recipe. Crisco is an essential ingredient to pie crust. I have fought this well-known fact my whole adult life. The whole idea of intentionally putting shortening, lard, or fat into my food seem preposterous. What about healthy eating? Fat is bad. NO FAT ALLOWED!

But faced with making up a pie crust for this dish, I decided to follow the recipe, if only for historical reasons. That decision changed my life, and my relationship with Crisco. You’ll see what I mean in a second.

This recipe for Meat Pie comes from a cookbook called, “A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes” by Charles Elme Francatelli, published in 1852. This is the book for me!  I’m definitely working class, putting in about 50 hours a week at the moment. I can’t handle complicated-simple is good.

Here is the original recipe:

Of whatever kind, let the pieces of meat be first fried brown over a quick fire, in a little fat or butter, and seasoned with pepper and salt; put these into a pie-dish with chopped onions, a few slices of half-cooked potatoes, and enough water just to cover the meat. Cover the dish with a crust, made with two pounds of flour and six ounces of butter, or lard, or fat dripping, and just enough water to knead it into a stiff kind of dough or paste, and then bake it for about an hour and a-half.

Using this as a base, I made up my own recipe. It’s one of those dishes that screams ‘homemade meal!!” but takes very little time, thanks to modern conveniences like canned vegetables. And you can use any kind of meat-chicken, turkey, burger, beef strips-whatever you have that needs to be used up!  Here is my version. It makes about six servings.

• 1 pound ground beef or chuck
• One small onion, diced
• One can mixed vegetables, drained
• One 10.75 ounce can of cream of potato soup
• One teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ½ cup water
• One cup flour
• 2 tablespoons shortening
• 6 additional tablespoons water


Cook the ground beef until about medium well-brown on the outside but still a little pink remaining.

Drain the fat. Pour beef into pie plate which has been lightly coated with cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the onion, mixed vegetables, soup, Italian spice and ½ cup water until well blended. Pour over the ground beef.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, shortening, and the six tablespoons of water until you have a ball of dough. Put a handful of flour on your countertop and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Roll it out until it will fix over the pie plate. Trim the edges, crimp and poke holes in the surface to allow air to escape.

Place the pie plate on a pizza tray or cookie sheet to keep your oven clean, in case the contents bubble over a bit. Bake pie in oven for one hour and ten minutes. Allow it to sit out for another ten minutes before cutting and serving.

The pie was savory! My girls asked for seconds-and to have some in their lunches the next day. And the crust was divine-this is how I intend to make crust from now on. Enjoy!