Catholic Recipe: Lamb Pie with Poppy Seed Crust
In the Tyrolean region meat pie was a tradition for St. Thomas' Day. A huge pie made for the whole family to enjoy, it was marked with a cross and sprinkled with holy water before baking. Actually, it was not eaten on St. Thomas' Day but just baked then. Frozen and held until the feast of the Epiphany, it was then heated and devoured by eager diners. The pie was always baked in an oblong pan to resemble the manger and cut with great ceremony by the head of the household.
The Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle was traditionally on December 21. Although the feast is now moved the July 3rd, this day still marks in Europe many customs, and also marks the final countdown for baking and cleaning for Christmas.
Cook lamb until tender with 2 cups water and 2 teaspoon salt — about 1-1/2 hours. Cool slightly in broth. Remove meat from bones; cut in 1-inch cubes. Melt shortening in saucepan; blend in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and flour. Skim fat from broth; add water to broth to make 3 cups. Stir broth into flour mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens. Add Kitchen Bouquet, peas, onions, and cubed lamb. Pour into greased oblong 1-1/2-quart baking pan. Stir poppy seeds into pie crust mix; prepare mix as directed on package. Roll out to fit top of baking pan; cut 2 slits in top to form a cross. Bake at 400° for about 25 minutes. Makes 4 servings.Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965