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Old Rag Pie

by . Featured in SIMPLY NIGELLA
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Introduction

This is a salty-sweet version (think Greek cheesecake) of the Greek Patsavouropita, created by bakeries as a way of using up old scraps of filo pastry: the ”old rags” indicated by the title. They’d just go along their counters, collect up all the bits and turn them into this pie. For this reason, you don’t need to worry about keeping your filo covered as you go, as is normally advised. It doesn’t matter if it dries out a little as you make it, indeed this can even be desirable.

I have made this with a variety of filo pastries, and I have found that the more widely available brands are too damp and too heavily sprinkled with flour to do the job well. Luckily, those brands make a frozen filo, which doesn’t seem to suffer from the same problems, which is why I stipulate this, below. However, should you be lucky enough to have access to good quality, authentic filo, then please use fresh.

This is a salty-sweet version (think Greek cheesecake) of the Greek Patsavouropita, created by bakeries as a way of using up old scraps of filo pastry: the ”old rags” indicated by the title. They’d just go along their counters, collect up all the bits and turn them into this pie. For this reason, you don’t need to worry about keeping your filo covered as you go, as is normally advised. It doesn’t matter if it dries out a little as you make it, indeed this can even be desirable.

I have made this with a variety of filo pastries, and I have found that the more widely available brands are too damp and too heavily sprinkled with flour to do the job well. Luckily, those brands make a frozen filo, which doesn’t seem to suffer from the same problems, which is why I stipulate this, below. However, should you be lucky enough to have access to good quality, authentic filo, then please use fresh.

Old Rag Pie
Photo by Keiko Oikawa

Ingredients

Makes: 9 generous slabs

Metric Cups
  • 100 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 270 grams frozen filo pastry (thawed)
  • 250 grams feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons grated parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons leaves from fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150 millilitres full fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 jar of good runny honey (such as Greek thyme honey or orange blossom honey)
  • 7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces frozen filo pastry (thawed)
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons grated parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons leaves from fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 jar of good honey (such as Greek thyme honey or orange blossom honey)

Method

You will need 1 x 20cm/8-inch square cake tin (preferably non-stick).

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then take it off the heat.
  2. Line your cake tin with a layer of filo, making sure it comes up the sides; you will need to use more than one sheet. Then pour 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the pastry.
  3. Using one third of the remaining filo sheets, tear and scrunch the sheets up and drop them loosely in the tin. Then crumble in half the feta, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Parmesan and just under ½ teaspoon of thyme leaves (or ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme) and pour a third of the remaining melted butter over the top.
  4. Repeat, so that you use up all but a little of the butter and a small amount of thyme. For the last layer, you can use larger pieces of filo “rags” (as it’s the lid), filling the tin a little more tightly, but still scrunching them.
  5. Fold the edges of overhanging filo over themselves, and pour the remaining butter on top. Using the sharp point of a knife, make 2 cuts down and 2 cuts across into the filo-packed tin, from edge to edge to create 9 sections. It’s important that you don’t use a blunt knife, as you don’t want to drag the filo or press down on it.
  6. Beat the eggs with the milk, then pour over the contents of the tin. Sprinkle the last bit of thyme along with the sesame seeds on top. Let it stand for at least 30 minutes in a cool place before baking. If 2 hours is easier for your timetable, then put it in the fridge. And you can do this in advance (see Note).
  7. Heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F, and bake the pie for 30 minutes. When it’s ready, the pastry will be golden and puffed up, and the inside set.
  8. Let it stand for 10 minutes, then spoon 1 tablespoon of the runny honey over the top.
  9. Cut into slices or slabs – using a serrated bread knife and sawing action to prevent squishing the filo on top too much, then pushing the knife down to cut through. Serve the pie directly from the tin and put the jar of runny honey, with a spoon in it (or you can pour it into a jug) on the table for people to add extra as they eat.

You will need 1 x 20cm/8-inch square cake tin (preferably non-stick).

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then take it off the heat.
  2. Line your cake tin with a layer of filo, making sure it comes up the sides; you will need to use more than one sheet. Then pour 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the pastry.
  3. Using one third of the remaining filo sheets, tear and scrunch the sheets up and drop them loosely in the tin. Then crumble in half the feta, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Parmesan and just under ½ teaspoon of thyme leaves (or ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme) and pour a third of the remaining melted butter over the top.
  4. Repeat, so that you use up all but a little of the butter and a small amount of thyme. For the last layer, you can use larger pieces of filo “rags” (as it’s the lid), filling the tin a little more tightly, but still scrunching them.
  5. Fold the edges of overhanging filo over themselves, and pour the remaining butter on top. Using the sharp point of a knife, make 2 cuts down and 2 cuts across into the filo-packed tin, from edge to edge to create 9 sections. It’s important that you don’t use a blunt knife, as you don’t want to drag the filo or press down on it.
  6. Beat the eggs with the milk, then pour over the contents of the tin. Sprinkle the last bit of thyme along with the sesame seeds on top. Let it stand for at least 30 minutes in a cool place before baking. If 2 hours is easier for your timetable, then put it in the fridge. And you can do this in advance (see Note).
  7. Heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F, and bake the pie for 30 minutes. When it’s ready, the pastry will be golden and puffed up, and the inside set.
  8. Let it stand for 10 minutes, then spoon 1 tablespoon of the honey over the top.
  9. Cut into slices or slabs – using a serrated bread knife and sawing action to prevent squishing the filo on top too much, then pushing the knife down to cut through. Serve the pie directly from the tin and put the jar of honey, with a spoon in it (or you can pour it into a jug) on the table for people to add extra as they eat.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The pie can be made 1 day in advance and kept in fridge. Pie can also be frozen at this stage, in which case cook from frozen, as Freeze Note.

STORE NOTE: The pie is best on the day it is made, but leftovers can be stored in fridge, on a plate covered with clingfilm or in an airtight container, for up to 2 days. Slices can be reheated in an oven preheated to 150°C/gas mark 2/300ºF for 15–30 minutes, until piping hot. Cool for 5 minutes before serving (this will crisp up the filo again).

FREEZE NOTE: Wrap tin tightly in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. To cook from frozen, unwrap the tin and put into a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 200°C/gasmark 6/400ºF and bake for 45–55 minutes. If the top browns too much (check at about 40 minutes), cover with foil. Make sure the pie is piping hot in the centre before removing from oven.

Leftovers can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in a double layer of clingfilm and then put into a resealable bag or wrapped in foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in fridge and reheat as Store Note.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The pie can be made 1 day in advance and kept in fridge. Pie can also be frozen at this stage, in which case cook from frozen, as Freeze Note.

STORE NOTE: The pie is best on the day it is made, but leftovers can be stored in fridge, on a plate covered with clingfilm or in an airtight container, for up to 2 days. Slices can be reheated in an oven preheated to 150°C/gas mark 2/300ºF for 15–30 minutes, until piping hot. Cool for 5 minutes before serving (this will crisp up the filo again).

FREEZE NOTE: Wrap tin tightly in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. To cook from frozen, unwrap the tin and put into a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 200°C/gasmark 6/400ºF and bake for 45–55 minutes. If the top browns too much (check at about 40 minutes), cover with foil. Make sure the pie is piping hot in the centre before removing from oven.

Leftovers can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in a double layer of clingfilm and then put into a resealable bag or wrapped in foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in fridge and reheat as Store Note.

Tell us what you think

What 3 Others have said

  • I signed up to this wonderful website because of this recipe. It does work just as well if you make your own filo than if frozen and like lasagne part of the delight as Nigella says is the crunchiness you get from bits that have dried out. I signed up to say thank you for such a wonderful and tasty dish that lasted me three days giving me great pleasure on each. What a brilliant discovery and it genuinely looks as good as the picture. Will try with mushroom and cheese sauce as can then use both from fields but first time I used the honey from my bees and that was good as he honey was in chunks of comb rather than smooth so also gave the surprise of crunchiness. Thank you so much

    Posted by Racheliscooking on 4th November 2016
  • I made this with a wild mushroom sauce rather than honey and it was a hit with everyone looking for refuge from too much meat over Christmas. Easy to make and adapt to accommodate different tastes.

    Posted by Johnfbobrien on 10th January 2016
  • Thank you at last i have finally found the recipe of Old Rag Pie. Wanted to make this as a Dessert over Christmas but could not find it or what it was called so now i am going to give it a go.

    Posted by Elizabeth Owen on 4th January 2016
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