Women as far back as the Third Age have known the secret that most men have yet to comprehend. The greatest aphrodisiac is a man who can cook. Especially one who cooks well and often!
First Couple of The Shire and the parents of thirteen children, our dear Rosie and Sam might have kept the romance in their lives by cooking together. Rosie’s Shire Pie is pure comfort food and if this dish is any indication of traditional Hobbit fare it is no wonder why these folk can be a bit on the portly side. There is enough butter in the cornmeal crust to cause a heart attack in one sitting! Perhaps Sam would have lived beyond his 102 years if Rosie had known about low-fat cooking. But there is no substitute for a butter-laden recipe because that is what puts the “comfort” in comfort food.
If Rosie were a modern woman she might have welcomed some of our time-saving techniques in the kitchen. Arriving home from her job as manager of the Green Dragon she sets straight away to preparing dinner for fifteen. Since Sam works from home, he has done much of the prep work (lucky Rosie! – wait, lucky SAM!) yet a gaggle of little Hobbits hangs on her ankles and clamors for her attention. Modern Rosie might do what this cook did – open up a can of cream of mushroom soup for the sauce. That saves just enough cooking time to let you plant a big kiss on the cheeks of each little Gamgee, pat them on the bottoms and send them off to set the table!
Cooking notes: With the unused dough I cut out acorn shapes with a cookie cutter and put them back in the fridge while the pie was baking to keep the butter firm. Then I baked the acorns for 15 minutes in the 375 degree oven. I was going to make crackers out of them but they are so flakey they don’t hold up to that purpose. So I plan to freeze them to put on top of the next Shire Pie because this is a very rich dish before you add the buttery crust. If making from fresh dough I’d still cut them out and space them evenly around the top but with at least an inch between each one.
In the interest of full disclosure, the recipe depicted has green beans and corn added, which is not in Rosie’s original. I used a large square casserole instead of a pie pan and the crust took a bit longer than 30 minutes to brown up and get flakey – check your oven and adjust accordingly. There wasn’t enough sauce in my recipe using just one can of mushroom soup so it was dry. Next time I will add more milk or take time to do the sauce as stated in the recipe.
This crust will be a staple for me – the texture of the cornmeal gives it a nice touch and it is as flakey as any puff pastry you have ever eaten! I envision a cutout piece of it on top of baked sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows. You might be able to put a dollop of soft whipped cream cheese and chives on top of them and serve as appetizers. I’ll have to experiment some more and tell you how things turn out!
I recently tried the recipe again and switched the amount listed for flour and cornmeal. The original calls for a greater amount of cornmeal than flour. Switching it to more flour than cornmeal made a firmer crust. And it also made some nice crackers with the leftover dough which I confess to eating not a little of before it was baked!