Have you ever eaten a pot pie, or what’s known as a meat pie in other parts of the world? You know, the kind with beef, chicken and/or some other meat with veggies in a brown or white sauce, usually made as a single-serve dish (at least in the U.S.). It’s been decades since I’ve had one or even thought about one.
It was in watching Pie in the Sky, a British TV series that starred Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter), that I was reminded of pot pies. And what a delightful series it is!
Griffiths plays Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe, a low-key and good-natured guy who would rather indulge his passion for cooking than solve any more cases. But solve them he must until he can take early retirement. The good news is, when he’s not working a case, he’s cooking at his (technically his wife’s) restaurant, Pie in the Sky.
The name is apropos, because after the restaurant opens in Episode 1, Henry becomes well-known for his steak and kidney pie. And similar to the electric kettle I wrote about last week, his signature dish (and the rest of his cooking) is a plot device that runs throughout the series. Unlike the pot pies of my youth, though, his are proper-sized pies, baked in a large pie tin until the crust is golden brown and the filling is tender and steaming.
On screen, the steak and kidney pie looks delicious, and I’d like to make it; however, this is a detective and not a cooking show, so the recipe for it isn’t offered up in Pie in the Sky (except for the ox kidneys and cubed steak mentioned in the first episode of Series 3). When I Googled it, I found the article “There’s Murder On the Menu” from The Independent, which has a recipe for Henry’s steak and kidney pie as interpreted by British food writer Lindsey Bareham. (Now to find ox kidneys.)
As for the rest of the show, Malcolm Sinclair (V for Vendetta, Judge John Deed) costarred as Henry’s boss, Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher, and Maggie Steed (Martin Chuzzlewit, Clatterford) as Henry’s wife, Margaret. Both of their characters are subtle comic foils to Griffith’s; ACC Fisher is basically clueless and Margaret seems to have no foodie sensibilities or appreciation for Henry’s cooking.
The stories and action in Pie in the Sky are on the mild side; there’s no violence except for the occasional scuffle, and no profanity that I recall, because they aren’t necessary. Good plots and understated comedy make the show quite entertaining.