Natchitoches Meat Pies

From Cook's Country | June/July 2013
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Why this recipe works:

Like a Latin American empanada, these deep-fried hand pies from Louisiana are filled with savory ground meat and spices. We use equal parts ground beef and pork for the filling, along with the classic Creole combination of onions, green bell peppers, and a pinch of cayenne for heat. Chicken… read more

Like a Latin American empanada, these deep-fried hand pies from Louisiana are filled with savory ground meat and spices. We use equal parts ground beef and pork for the filling, along with the classic Creole combination of onions, green bell peppers, and a pinch of cayenne for heat. Chicken broth and flour make the filling cohesive, and scallions add freshness. After letting the filling cool, we roll the dough out thin and fry the pies in hot oil to create a crisp, tender, golden-brown crust.

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Makes 16 pies

You can make the dough and the filling up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerate them separately. You can also shape and fill the pies, refrigerating them for up to 24 hours before frying. Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more.

Ingredients

  • FILLING
  • 5 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 6 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • DOUGH
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. 1. FOR THE FILLING: Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add beef, pork, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up pieces with spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer meat to bowl.

    2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, scallion whites, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook until vegetables are just starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

    3. Return meat and any accumulated juices to skillet with vegetables. Sprinkle flour over meat and cook, stirring constantly, until evenly coated, about 1 minute. Add broth, bring to boil, and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer filling to bowl and stir in scallion greens. Refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. (Filling can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

    4. FOR THE DOUGH: Process flour, salt, and baking powder in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, 6 to 8 pulses. Add broth and eggs and pulse until dough just comes together, about 5 pulses. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead until dough forms smooth ball, about 20 seconds. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces. (Dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

    5. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll into 6-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Place ¼ cup filling in center of dough round. Brush edges of dough with water and fold dough over filling. Press to seal, trim any ragged edges, and crimp edges with tines of fork. Transfer to prepared sheet. (Filled pies can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

    6. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet. Add 1 quart oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about ¾ inch deep and heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Place 4 pies in oil and fry until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side, using slotted spatula or spider to flip. Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 degrees. Transfer pies to prepared wire rack and place in oven to keep warm. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining pies. Serve.

Don’t Make This Mistake: Overstuffing

Be sure to roll the dough into 6-inch rounds and fill each meat pie using a ¼-cup measure. If the meat pies are overstuffed, they may rupture and the filling will leak out in the hot frying oil.

BULKY AND BURSTING

Test Kitchen Technique: Sealing Meat Pies

1. Brush the edges of each round with water and fold one side over the filling to form a half-moon. For tidy pies, trim the edges with a pastry wheel.

2. Use the tines of a fork to make a decorative crimp that tightly seals the pies.

Detail sfs meatpies 4
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