Cast Iron

Spiced Lamb Pie

November 18, 2014
6 Ratings
Author Notes

I usually use a 10-inch pie pan for this recipe but you can use any size or shape. I've even used a springform cake pan.

You can make this pie all in one evening, but I don’t recommend it. Try to make your pie dough and filling a few hours or a day ahead of time. And use your favorite dough recipe for the crust. (Here's one for reference:

Be warned. This pie is rich. You don't drain the fat from the lamb (but you can if you want). You line the interior with cheddar cheese. You use a butter crust. So make sure you cut the fat by serving the pie with something refreshing. Crème fraîche and sour cream are too rich. Use yogurt. And perhaps some pomegranate arils. Or serve it with a salad of hearts of romaine and tangy lemon vinaigrette. Just don't eat this pie alone. —Phyllis Grant

  • Serves 6
  • 2 batches of your favorite pie dough (enough for two 10-inch circles rolled out 1/4-inch thick)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, peeled and diced (yielding about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 14 1/2 ounces crushed or diced tomatoes (from can or box)
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I prefer creamy Grey Poupon)
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (fleur de sel or Maldon)
In This Recipe
  1. Take the lamb out of the fridge and break it apart into about quarter-sized pieces. Set aside.
  2. With your mortar and pestle, make a paste with garlic, anchovies, tomato paste, honey, and Worchestershire sauce. Mix in cinnamon, cumin, and paprika.
  3. Add olive oil and butter to a medium pot or cast-iron pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, slide in your onions. Add salt. Stir. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the meat. Stir for a few minutes, continuing to break apart the meat even more with the back of your spoon. It’s okay if it’s still pink; you will be cooking it for a long time. Add the spice paste. Stir for 2 minutes, integrating the paste and cooking it a bit in the hot pan. Add the tomatoes. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook until the sauce thickens, about twenty minutes. Take off the heat and stir in herbs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sherry vinegar. Taste. Adjust seasoning. If you have time, allow it to cool.
  4. 20 minutes before making your pie, take your pie dough out of the fridge or freezer. Heat oven to 350° F. When the dough just starts to soften, scatter flour on your counter and roll out the first disc of dough into a circle that's about an inch bigger than your pie pan. (Shoot for the dough to be about 1/4-inch thick but don't worry too much. It will work regardless. I promise.) Press it into your pie pan. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, paint the interior of the dough with mustard. Pour in cooled lamb filling. Cover the filling with slices of cheese. Roll out second disc of dough. Place dough on top of cheese and filling. Seal the top layer of dough with the bottom. Tuck edges underneath. Crimp away! Or fold over. Or use the tines of a fork to make a pretty pattern. If you have any scraps of dough, add a few decorative flourishes in the form of a lightning bolt, a leaf, a star, or a heart.
  5. Whisk together egg and cream. Using a pastry brush, paint the top and edges of the pie with the egg wash. Don't go overboard. Just a light coating. You will have a lot left over. Save it for your next pie. Decoratively cut several 2-inch long gashes in the center of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle crust with coarse salt. Bake until crust is golden brown and the lamb filling is bubbling a bit out of the slits (45 to 55 minutes). Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Serve with something refreshing like yogurt mixed with chopped mint and lemon zest. Or a crisp green salad with avocado and pomegranate arils.

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Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.