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Devon Squab Pie

This old-fashioned lamb pie which dates back over 100 years combines lamb with fruit and spices. It is known as Devon or Devonshire squab pie, Gloucester squab pie or West Country squab pie. In Devon, this is often served with clotted cream on the side; outside of Devon, usually not. A squab usually refers to a young domestic pigeon but this pie has been made with lamb for many years. It is thought either the original pie was made with pigeon or the name comes from ‘squabble’ which means to have a disagreement about whether to make meat pie or apple pie (since this one contains both).

This very tasty pie contains lamb, apples and spices, and has a pastry lid. It is hearty and filling, and therefore perfect comfort food for the cooler seasons. It can be made as one large pie or you can use separate ramekins to make portion-sized servings. There are various versions of squab pie. In fact, in the US it is actually made with pigeons. Agatha Christie, a famous English crime novelist, created a variation with hard boiled eggs.

Devon squab pie is one of those ‘at risk’ British classic recipes because only 3 percent of teenagers surveyed in Britain had ever tasted it. Despite this, if you are interested in historical British or English recipes, Devon squab pie is worth making, because the combination of lamb, apples and spices works really nicely, and the puff pastry crust on top is delicious. Serve this with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Devon Squab Pie
Summary: A rich, meaty filling of lamb, leeks, fruit and spices is enclosed under a light puff pastry lid, to make this classic pie recipe from England's West Country.
Cuisine: English
Recipe type: Main Course
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • Plain flour (all-purpose flour), as needed
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2lb 4oz (1kg) chopped lamb neck fillet
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 chopped leeks
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 apples (one tart and one sweet, if possible)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 18 fl oz (500ml) lamb or chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 pitted prunes
  • 2 tablespoons double cream or heavy cream (optional)
  • 9 oz (250g) puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg
  1. Season some flour with salt and black pepper, and toss the lamb in it.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a casserole dish.
  3. Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a skillet.
  4. Brown half in the lamb in the casserole dish and half in the skillet.
  5. Using both saves time.
  6. Now transfer the lamb from the skillet into the casserole dish.
  7. Add the leeks and onion to the skillet, plus some more oil if needed.
  8. Sauté over a moderate heat until the onion is golden.
  9. Add the leek mixture to the lamb, along with the spices.
  10. Now halve, core and thinly slice or chop the apples.
  11. Add them to the lamb, along with the thyme, stock, bay leaves and prunes.
  12. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  13. Grind in some salt and black pepper.
  14. Simmer the mixture, covered, for 30 minutes.
  15. Add more liquid if necessary but remember the mixture needs to be quite thick so only add a little.
  16. If you want to use cream, stir it in now (this is not traditional but it tastes good).
  17. Taste and add more salt and black pepper if necessary.
  18. Transfer the mixture into a 1¾ pint (1 litre) pie dish or into 6 small ramekins.
  19. Leave them to cool while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  20. Now roll out the pastry and use it to cover the pie (or pies).
  21. If you have a pie funnel, set it in the centre.
  22. If not, cut slits for the steam to escape.
  23. Beat the milk with the egg, then brush this mixture over the pastry.
  24. Bake for 25 minutes or until piping hot and golden brown on top.

Photo Description:

There is some work involved in making this Devon squab pie recipe but the result is worthwhile. This is traditional West Country food at its finest! Here we combine lamb with fruit, vegetables and spices to make this wonderful pie which is topped with pastry. Make it in ramekins for an intriguing starter recipe (before fish or chicken) or unusual lunch, or in one big pie dish for sharing. In the county of Devon, this is traditionally served with clotted cream on the side, but there is also the option of adding some cream to the filling instead. You can use mutton instead of lamb if you like, or swap the prunes for a handful of raisins.

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi, my name is Christine and I would like to welcome you to TeaTime Recipes. Tea has always been a favourite of mine and I adore the tradition of serving this wonderful beverage with all kinds of little snacks both sweet and savoury. Read More