Hungry for Hygge

Posted on: Tuesday, November 15, 2016

After an emotional, politically-charged week, I drove down to Pomfret for a restful, rejuvenating retreat. As Kara, Patrick, Ryan, Shiloh and I lounged in the living room, we started reminiscing about happier times like traveling through Europe - most notably to Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Danish are some of the happiest people in the world. They are seen as incredibly supportive, generous and kind-hearted. It's only suitable that they have a word in their vocabulary, hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) that encapsulates the feeling of cozy, relaxed comfort and well-being. The Danish consciously create hygge in their homes, social situations and everyday life. They prioritize positivity and taking care of yourself and those around you.
While simple in nature, I think we could all benefit from adding a little hygge to our lives. Whether it be with lighting - candles, a warm, pleasing glow; interior design - painted walls, pleasing images, plush throws and pillows; clothing - cozy sweaters and slippers; music - soothing and meditative tunes; or my personal favorite, cuisine. For me, the sharing of homemade dishes and drinks with friends and loved ones provides the highest level of comfort and ease.
Kara and I have many recipes that create a soothing sense of familiarity. Most notable is a Meat Pie recipe we brought home years ago after a visit to Old Sturbridge Village. The rich and savory pie is an aromatic blend of gravy, ground pork, beef potatoes, onions, carrots, and spices all enveloped in a buttery pie crust. We make it every year, and this past weekend was an opportune time.
Cozy Meat Pie

Beef Gravy
3 T unsalted butter
3 T flour
2 c beef stock
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper throughout

Pie Filling
1 T EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 c diced carrot
1 c diced Russet potatoes
1 c diced carrots
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground clove
1 c breadcrumbs
1 recipe pie dough for a 9-inch double crusted pie
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper throughout

To prepare the Beef Gravy, in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add 3 T butter. Once melted, stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Stir until a brown roux has formed, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly pour in the beef broth, and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the Worcestershire, and garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and continue to cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out 1 piece of dough to fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out the other piece of dough and set in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Add the potatoes and carrots and blanch until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the pork, meat and onions and saute until the meat has browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the cinnamon, clove, salt, pepper and prepared Beef Gravy. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the drained potatoes, carrots, and bread crumbs to the pan. Stir to combine and then pour the filling into the prepared pie crust, leveling the filling at the top. Cover the filling with the reserved pie crust, pinching the edges of the bottom and top layers together. Trim off any excess dough with a knife. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg, and make a few slits with a fork or knife to allow the steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Serves 6-8.

This rich and delicious pie is perfect for winter and holiday entertaining - enjoy it alongside a simple kale salad. It can be prepared a day or two ahead of time too!

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