I found this recipe in Victoria Magazine in 1993 and have made it many, many, many times since then. I made it for my parents and family and then for my husband. I made it for our first Christmas Eve meal as a married couple and every year after. It is now a happy tradition in our home.
My first married Christmas, that was one of the very best Christmases I can remember. My husband and I were newly married and had just moved to Altus, Oklahoma with the Air Force. We hadn’t yet sold our house in Washington State and were still paying for it along with our new place in Altus and by new I mean the 1925 Four Square with the sagging front porch and sloping floors that was the first true indulgence of a practical husband to his bride with big ideas and the need for a project. He would have much preferred base housing and nothing to fix, remodel or worry about but he knew I wanted that crazy little house so, there we settled. Paying for two houses left little in the budget for Christmas gifts so we decided to cut out the spending of money we didn’t have and focus on what really mattered; being together, celebrating our savior and eating. It was one of the most wonderful, peaceful, happy Christmases I have ever enjoyed. A fire, a loving husband, twinkling lights on the tree and a plate of steaming Fidget Pie – I didn’t need anything more.
See, this is why my posts are always too long – tangents. I can’t seem to help myself. Thank you for your patience. Back to the pie.
Fidget Pie is an English dish and is rumored to have been a favorite of Charles Dickens as he was quoted as saying ” it was no sooner brought into my room … than I fainted away … it prevents my writing at any length, as my faculties are absorbed in crust.” When you smell this pie baking, you can’t help but imagine an earlier time and be enchanted by the thought of all who have enjoyed such a dish. This is what I love about good food; about making good food. It brings us together, connects us, reminds us of a simpler time and satisfies us in a way that mindless consuming for the sake of convenience never could. Slow down. Sit down. Enjoy.
Fidget Pie from Victoria Magazine, Jan. 1993
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 and I use Yukon Gold)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cups diced cooked ham (12 ounces)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pound cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 3)
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth or stock
- Pastry for single crust 9-inch pie
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a deep, 2 quart casserole. Layer potato slices in the bottom of the casserole. Season with salt, pepper, sage, and nutmeg. Continue layering and seasoning …
Pour broth over all. Roll out pastry on floured board until 1/4″ thick.
Fit pastry over pie, sealing and fluting it to the edge of the casserole. Cut a decorative hole in the center with a small cookie cutter so steam can escape – I cut and “F” for Fidget Pie because that is how my mom always vented her pies; “C” for cherry, “A” for apple – you get the picture.
The original recipe doesn’t call for it, but I brush the crust with an egg wash
and then sprinkle with sea salt.
Place on a sheet tray and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for 40-45 minutes until pastry is crisp and golden and potatoes are tender. (Note: unlike a typical American pot pie, pan juices will be thin.) Yield: 4 servings. This pie will serve my family of 5 but there are NO leftovers.
I have made this pie many times and here are a few things I have discovered that really make it amazing:
Fresh sage and six leaves instead of four.
Freshly grated nutmeg. I don’t measure it, I just grate a fine layer over the potatoes and then another fine layer over the apples.
Homemade Stock – it really does make a difference. I always make stock out of my Thanksgiving turkey carcass and freeze it so I have some on hand as it is great for soups and … Fidget Pie.
It is a filling, hearty but not heavy, lovely dish that is perfect for winter. I hope you will try it, sit around the table or by the fire with someone you love and slow down and enjoy. As always, let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you.
Final tangent …
Do you remember how I told you that I have made this dish every Christmas Eve since I was first married? Well that is every one except for this year, I ran out of time – 3 children and piling too much on your plate will do that to you. So, because I had all of the ingredients on hand I decided to do a quicker – deconstructed version (isn’t that all the rage now anyway) and thought I would share.
Fried Potatoes and Onions
and Apple Sauce for authenticity.
.A little sad, I know, but delicious, we ate at 7pm and not at midnight and I made the Fidget Pie a few days later so the tradition lives on.