Making party-worthy savory pies with Frito pie, green bean casserole, beef stew fixins

Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore pie, I got an invite to a pie party.

Even though it’s the middle of cookie season, the pie party was Saturday, and the task was simple: Bring a pie, and it better not be from a store.

I thought about making the Sunday Supper Pie from Francine Bryson (below), which was our recipe of the week yesterday, but I didn’t have any beef in the freezer. Oddly, I did have the ingredients for green bean casserole, so I decided to make a green bean casserole pie. Pretty genius, right?

Well, not compared to what my boyfriend had up his sleeves. Eddie loves Frito Pie and had decided he wanted to make a Frito pie-inspired pie, maybe with a crushed Frito crust. I wasn’t totally sold that the chip crust would work without getting soggy, so I was happy when he dug up this Frito Pie Pie recipe that used a traditional pie crust.

I made enough pie crust for both of us. He made his pie (Seriously easy: Mix a few eggs with two cans of chili and then bake in a pie crust. Top with cheese and Fritos.), I made mine (Make green bean casserole; put it in a pie crust.) and we headed to our friend Lindsay’s annual pie party.

Frito Pie is usually served as a bowl of chili with Fritos on top, but this Frito Pie is chili baked in a traditional pie crust and topped with cheese and chips. Next to it is a green bean casserole pie. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Frito Pie is usually served as a bowl of chili with Fritos on top, but this Frito Pie is chili baked in a traditional pie crust and topped with cheese and chips. Next to it is a green bean casserole pie. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I’d never been to this annual affair, where guests bring sweet and savory pies to compete in several categories, including the ugliest and the most creative. We had egg nog pie and a cherry pie that tasted like an Old Fashioned. There was a sushi pie with a rice crust and tequila-spiked key lime pie Jell-O shots. Chicken pot pies and an eggy breakfast pie, plus peanut butter and blueberry pie pops and handheld apple pies that were the size of an iPhone. (Apple Pie-phone was the name of that dish, I believe.)

It has been a while since I’d been to a competition potluck that was quite so much fun. People took it seriously enough to make some really fun pies, but they didn’t take it too seriously that the competition outweighed the holiday party. (And Eddie’s pie almost took the top honors!)

It was a good reminder that pie is good to eat any time of year, and it doesn’t have to have an ounce of sugar to win over your guests.

This Sunday Supper Pie is made with roasted butternut squash and potatoes, mixed with browned beef and gravy. It’s from “Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen” by Francine Bryson. Contributed by Sara Remington

This Sunday Supper Pie is made with roasted butternut squash and potatoes, mixed with browned beef and gravy. It’s from “Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen” by Francine Bryson. Contributed by Sara Remington

Sunday Supper Pie

Pie baking champion Francine Bryson doesn’t just make sweet pies.

She’s been eating savory pies since she was a young child, and her mother used to make this pie after church on Sundays. Roasted butternut squash and potatoes are tossed with small cubes of stew meat that have been browned in a skillet. Bryson, who is based in South Carolina, thickens the filling with a quick stove-top gravy and then bakes it in a regular ol’ pie crust.

As the title of her book, “Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter, $22), suggests, this is country cooking at its finest. It’s comforting, homey food to warm up your house on one of these cold weekends and, if you’re not used to eating savory pies, could inspire even more meat-potatoes-and-gravy pies this winter.

— Addie Broyles

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
3 medium russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
5 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 lb. beef for stew, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the squash and potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and sprinkle with the seasoned salt and thyme. Toss to coat. Roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add the beef pieces and brown well on all sides, about 8 minutes. Drain the beef on paper towels. Reserve the skillet.

Fit the pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Add the beef, squash and potatoes to the pie shell.

Pour the beef broth into the pan juices in the skillet. Whisk in the cornstarch. Bring to a boil over high heat and whisk until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the pan gravy over the meat and veggies. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

— From “Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen” by Francine Bryson (Clarkson Potter, $22)

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