Most of my favourite recipes originate from my childhood, like creamy rice pudding with the skin on or Lancashire Hotpot, both made by my mother and served with great aplomb. To my great sadness I’ve never been able to replicate them. There are also those those recipes that are discovered as a result of dining out. Those which leave you with a desire to replicate them at home. Homity pie is one of those which tastes even better at home and is so easy to make.
The word ‘homity’ has no meaning in Chambers Dictionary. The pie appears to have its origins in the 1940’s during the Second World War, at the time of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, ‘homity’ being a made-up word. Apparently, it was well loved by the Land Army Girls, possibly because it could be eaten hot or cold. It was believed to have been created in the West Country and is also known as Devon pie.
I first discovered it at our local pub, where it was on the ‘Specials’ menu. On enquiring what it was from the waitress, I was told it was a vegetable pie with cheese. What I was not told however was what a gloriously unctuous dish I would be having the pleasure of eating. Beautifully moist with the different flavours of the potatoes, leeks and onions coming through, with just a hint of cheese; it was a real taste experience. It was also one of the dishes I resolved we would try at home. But would it taste the same?
Looking for a recipe on the Internet, I was confronted by a wide variety of different ones. I opted for one produced by Good Housekeeping. For one large flan (a ten-inch pie case), boil six hundred grams of Charlotte potatoes until tender, then cool and chop into three-centimetre pieces. Sauté one chopped onion until almost caramelised with sixty grams of butter, one crushed clove of garlic and leaves picked from four sprigs of thyme. Four leeks, finely chopped were also added to the mix.
The potatoes and one hundred grams of grated cheese were added to the mix together with one hundred and fifty millilitres of double cream and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was left to cool while preparing the pastry.
Ready-made shortcrust pastry sheets were used to line the pie dish as an easy alternative. Although the recipe called for the pastry case to be baked blind, the decision was made to pour the mixture in without doing that. It worked perfectly, with no ‘soggy bottom’.
The oven was preheated to gas mark seven and cooked for fifteen minutes, then reduced to mark five for a further forty minutes, cooling for ten minutes before serving. The result? A truly wonderful pie, with every mouthful being as good as the last. This will be a firm family favourite.
And I have to admit that I wasn’t the one to do the making. My dear husband was sufficiently intrigued by the pie to try it out and it was a very successful dish.