If you’re looking for a spooky-themed dinner and movie combo, try Sweeney Todd. The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has been translated and performed in plenty of venues before being made into a movie in 2007, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. It’s a great rental at Halloween — and what better to eat while you’re watching than meat pies?
If you haven’t seen it, the meat pies appear in Mrs. Nellie Lovett’s (played in the movie by Helena Bonham Carter) meat pie shop on Fleet Street.
The original story of Sweeney Todd was believed to be based on an urban legend. In Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, a servant accuses a pieman of using cats “for beefsteak, veal and kidney, ‘cording to the demand” — he recommends that people should buy pies only ‘when you know the lady as made it, and is quite sure it ain’t kitten.’”
The story of mystery meat made into pie has even made its way to the Food Network. In the 12th season of Good Eats, and episode called Oh My Meat Pie has Alton Brown play his great-grandfather, who stumbles upon a pie shop in London; the large tub of ground meat provided for his shepherd’s pie recipe comes from a questionable source.
To make meat pies, you could really start with any beef stew, beef bourguignon, chicken stew, even chili — then divide it among individual baking dishes, top with mashed potatoes or pastry and bake until bubbly. It’s a great way to repurpose leftovers, if you don’t want them to resemble the original. (If you want to ditch the meat entirely, you could even start with a lentil chili — but that would seriously reduce the creep-out factor here.)
One of the easiest toppings for a meat pie is puff pastry. For the pie above I used some leftover beef stew, then rolled out thawed puff pastry dough and cut it into roughly the same shape as the baking dish. Set it on top – if it drapes over the edge, that’s fine too. If it does cover the sides, cut a slit in the top to allow steam to escape. Set baking dishes on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Then act elusive when people ask what kind of meat pie it is …
Feel inspired? Here are 12 more recipes inspired by scary movies!