Praise please!

I don’t know if I mentioned this to you, but one of my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions — which I’m beginning to sense were overwhelmingly food-based — was to modify several existing recipes to create one amalgam recipe, and then use that amalgam recipe to cook an official food of Louisiana and have it come out awesome. Very specific resolution, you say? All the happier she who accomplishes it! If you are not yet sold on retroactive New Year’s Resolutions (but it seems like everyone was, and I appreciate your support), I strongly encourage you to give them a try.

What is up, Natchitoches Meat Pies? Check it:

as accomplished by me!

Nice, eh? I used a recipe that combined the best (read: easiest) elements of several different recipes from the internets, including this here and the official Natchitoches recipe. I baked the pies instead of deep-frying, partly because I don’t have a good deep-frying pan, and partly because I am pretty sure the pies would all fall apart if I tried to deep-fry them. Because I am so proud of myself, I am going to do something I have never done ever in my life, which is to share a recipe that is at least partly of my own invention.

By the way, and this will probably never be useful information for you, the town of Natchitoches has a spectacular fireworks display at Christmas, and is correctly pronounced to rhyme with “jacketish” — like, “This isn’t exactly a jacket, but it’s jacketish” — which is to say, NACK-uh-dish.

2 tbsp butter
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork meat
bunch of green onions
bell pepper
diced garlic (a whole pod)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup beef stock
salt and cayenne pepper
2-4 tbsps of hot sauce
2 9-inch pie shells

Melt the shortening in a heavy skillet at medium high heat. Add meat and cook until browned. Add vegetables. Also add garlic, sauces, and seasonings, to taste. Cook until vegetables are wilted. Mix beef stock with flour and then add (otherwise just add flour). Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cook for five minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from heat, adjust seasoning if necessary, and set aside to cool.

Roll out pie dough into circles and cut in halves. Scoop meat into pie shells. Brush egg on the edges of the shells, fold over, and press the edges with a fork. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Make small slits in dough to vent steam, egg-wash entire pie, and bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn once.

Tips so you can learn from my experience:

1. Don’t be too exuberant when you are breaking up the meat to brown it. Even in a pot, it will fly out and get all over the floor and cause you some anxiety as you try to prevent the cat from eating raw meat that will exacerbate his tummy problems.

2. If there is a way to transfer uncooked meat pies (or calzones, for that matter) from the cutting board to the cookie sheet, I have yet to discover it. Put them on folded pieces of aluminum foil. This will save you greasing the cookie sheet, and when the pies come out of the oven, if you aren’t going to eat them immediately, you can use the aluminum to wrap them up after they’ve cooled.

3. Let them cool before you start wrapping them up and putting them away. If you try to remove them from the cookie sheet immediately, they will fall apart. You wouldn’t think any person over the age of eight would need this advice, but that’s where you’d be wrong.

4. Egg-washing is overrated and appears to make the crust more crumbly, which is delicious but perilous if you want your pies to stay together. You can just paint a little bit of vegetable oil on the crust when you are folding it up, and it will be fine.

5. When combining various recipes, for heaven’s sake remember the proportions. One of my recipes called for 1/2 pound of each kind of meat, and 2 9-inch pie crusts, and the other called for 1 pound of each kind of meat, and making your own pie shells, which was so obviously crazy I didn’t even consider it. I then got confused about which ingredients came from which recipe, and I got a pound of each kind of meat and 2 9-inch pie crusts, which, you know, not even close to enough for the amount of filling I had. I had to go back to the grocery store.

6. Some of the seasoning will bake out. Make the filling a little hotter than you really want it. My first two pies came out a bit bland, so I sensibly went back to my filling and loaded it up with cayenne red pepper and Crystal hot sauce. I’ve said 2-4 tablespoons because I don’t know how hot you like your meat pies. I like things pretty spicy but I don’t want to say 4 tbsps in ringing tones of authority, and then have you come back to my blog screaming I FEEL LIKE I SWALLOWED THE SUN.

P.S. Before I started this, I asked Facebook if it was okay to use a regular skillet (since I didn’t have a cast-iron one, and I assumed a regular skillet would be better than a shallow pot). My aunt replied and said that I wouldn’t get very good flavor with a thin skillet. What? The thickness of the pot makes a difference to flavor? I asked my aunt this question, and she said I needed to get a crash course in cooking next time I am home. I suspect she wonders how I have spent every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter with a bunch of native Louisianians and their gumbo, rice dressing, drunk chicken, etc., and yet managed to reach this advanced age without knowing the first thing about cooking. I wonder this myself.

66 thoughts on “Praise please!

    • There is no reason anyone would ever guess that. It is an insane pronunciation. Now if it ever comes up, you will be cleverer than all your friends. :p

  1. We make it rhyme exactly with “jacketish!” We stopped in Nachitoches and got some meat pies on our way to Baton Rouge a couple of weekends ago…mmmmm good!

    I’ll have to try your recipe!

  2. Cannot believe it! Nack uh dish! I don’t even want to say how I was saying it, but you can probably imagine! And the meat pie looks very interesting. Up in Wisconsin we say pasties! (way easier to say than Nack uh dish!)

    • Well, you don’t have to say Natchitoches meat pies, you can just say meat pies (and buy them in Natchitoches). My aunt is from Wisconsin, and she talked yearningly about pasties last I saw her. I should make HER some meat pies, and see if they measure up to her Wisconsin memories.

  3. This is praise-worthy indeed! Please, consider yourself heaped with praise. I have never made a meat pie (though I have made various sweet pies, mainly because people were all, “Could we make pies?” and I was all, “Do you mean, could I make pies while you watch?” and they were all, “Yes. And I’ll pay for the ingredients.” and I was all, “Okay, then.”) and am in awe of people who can do so. They sound very tasty, too, except for the onion. I have never been able to warm up to onions.

    Pies are very big here in New Zealand. They’re like hot dogs in North America. Everyone eats pies. I didn’t for a long time because I was afraid they were full of onions, but apparently onions are not traditional. So now I eat the odd pie, here and there.

    Also, I would never have guessed NACK-uh-dish. I was thinking something along the lines of nach-ee-toes, because when I see long words I tend to pick a couple of letters and decide that the ENTIRE WORD sounds like what you’d get if you put those couple of letters together.

    • Thank you! I appreciate your praise! And I am impressed in turn that you are able to make regular pies. Don’t be put off by the onion. I cut it up and it’s not that noticeable, just for the flavor. I’m not a fan of onions either.

      Nack-uh-dish just makes no sense. But it’s an American Indian name, I think, which is why it doesn’t follow French pronunciation rules like most Louisiana place names.

  4. Well done, you! Also, just so you know, you are so not the only person over the age of eight who need advice on how to prevent hot baked food from falling apart πŸ˜›

    I miss home food a lot. I should try to emulate it here.

    • I’d rather have real live home food — gumbo and drunk chicken from my uncles, my daddy’s red beans and rice, church fund-raising jambalaya, hush puppies from the little restaurant by my university — but failing that, I have to try to recreate them or go without.

      Do you have recipes? My aunts and uncles’ recipes are like “a dab of this, a splash of that…” No good to me. I do not have the Instinct.

  5. Jenny, perhaps only I (and Daddy, and Legal, Indie, and Social) fully grasp what a giant leap forward this is for you! I am SO IMPRESSED. If you don’t complete another resolution all year, I would say you have nearly equaled last year’s astounding performance already…and it’s not even February yet. (Does this make you Tony Chachere Sister? Culinary Sister?) πŸ˜›

    • Thank you! Please do not make me Culinary Sister. I don’t want to be Culinary. I just want Culinary to be something I don’t have to worry about so much.

  6. Praise indeed (and giggles, love your tips!) Interesting, too – it’s a sort of hot Cornish pastie, I thought, reading the recipe, and trying to remember how I used to transfer filled pasties to the baking sheet. I think my pastry was thick enough to hold together, but we were very poor in those days, and I wanted everyone to be full after eating πŸ™‚

    • Oh, but you must have made your own pastry. Mine was just the kind that comes frozen out of a box. I guess I could have used two, but even then I think it would have split when I lifted it.

  7. Oh NOW I see what you mean by a meat pie. My helpful suggestion of making the pastry separate would not work for this sort of pie, just so that you know. Looks delicious. I want you to make me one please.

    Also, I swear that town I cannot spell but can now pronounce is in Steel Magnolias! I swear it is!

    • What were you thinking of? I assumed we were both imagining, like, the pasties they sell in the Tube. They are not fundamentally all that different.

      You can totally have one. I froze six of them. You were right really, they wouldn’t keep that long.

      I am pretty sure they filmed Steel Magnolias in Natchitoches — it’s very picturesque! — but I didn’t know it was set there. Is it set there? It’s been years and years since I saw it.

      • No! I was thinking like a steak and ale pie, with puff pastry on top! You need to tell me pastie then I will understand! Oh, our strange linguistic differences!

        Ha! Thanks! I am glad you froze them! I was a bit worried I’d get an email telling me you had food poisoning!!

        I think they did! I swear the Christmas market thing is set there!

  8. Oh my, this recipe looks wonderful, and I don’t have any recipe in my collection that resembles this one at all, so I am super psyched that you decided to share it! I also would not fry it, as I am trying to less frying in general, and have even been putting french fries in the oven. The mix of meats you use sounds awesome too. Great find for me today, I tell you!

    • I hope you like them if you end up making them! I’m delighted by mine, even if I did end up making eight instead of the four I intended. That’s why God invented freezers.

  9. Ooh, this looks delicious, I want to try it! I love meat pies and pastries and such. My husband is not so crazy about them but if I put enough cayenne in, I bet he will like it! (he loves spicy food). But I never heard garlics refered to as “pods”. That means the whole head, right? not just a clove?

    • Er, yes, garlic pod means the whole collection of cloves. Evidently! I am very new to cooking, so I am just going by what other people tell me. Is there another word for a whole thing of garlic? I feel like I’ve heard one before but I now can’t remember what it was. :/

  10. Mmmmm this looks delicious! Good job! Retroactive nyr ftw! I like spicy things too, so if I make this, I will be adding 5 tblsp of hot sauce πŸ˜‰

    • I actually have no idea how much hot sauce I put in. I started with two tablespoons, added more when I first tasted it, and then kept adding more at intervals throughout the process. In my view, the more hot sauce, the better. Though judicious use of hot peppers might have pleased me even more.

  11. Heh, I loved your comment about spending Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with the relatives without learning how to cook–I did that for 30 years and then finally started learning to cook after my kids were born–and for some of the same reasons–it’s hard to get spicy food in the north.

    These pies sound delicious. And I need something new to make at the end of the winter that never ends.

    Do you know how to pronounce the name of the Ouachita river?

    • Yeah, the winter is seriously long here. I have never really cared about Groundhog Day before but now I find myself hoping the groundhog fails to see his shadow.

      I do indeed know how to pronounce the name of the Ouachita River. It came up in conversation, plus in any case we had to learn the names of all the Louisiana parishes when I was in school.

      • OR… if you fancy the boxes that have the easy-make-scrambled-eggs (that look like milk cartons) already beaten eggs than you can just use that. It’s easier because you can pour out just a Tblspoon or so.

        and smearing on gently with a back of a spoon can work if you don’t like using your fingers or don’t have a little brush.

    • Aw, sorry. I can make a vegan thing. One. Sushi. I make good sushi with cucumbers and carrots. I have contemplated adding peanuts to the mix. But perhaps I will learn more.

  12. Nice! Those look delicious! And thanks for providing the pronunciation of Natchitoches. I do like to pronounce things correctly, and I’m pretty sure if I guessed everything I could think of I’d never have come up with NACK-uh-dish. Also, in the process of learning that, I now know the word “jacketish,” which I foresee will come in quite handy at some point.

  13. Oh, this looks delicious! And very similar to a traditional Chilean empanada, although they don’t make those with hot sauce or cayenne (and therefore this sounds better). Congrats!

  14. OMG JENNY!! You just made my life!!! I love Natchitoches meat pies so freaking much! There’s a little gas station by my work that sells them…someone actually drives them down here to New Orleans once a week and they fry them up there…and I eat them probably three times a week for lunch, lol. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have your recipe for them! Totes making these…*tackle hugs Jenny*

    • AREN’T THEY THE BEST? I am so, so envious that you work right by a place that has them. I used to go to school next door to a place with delicious meat pies. They are the best. I hope you like them when you make them!

  15. I would never have guessed at the pronunciation, and hadn’t hear of this kind of meat pie before. My mom used to make something similar with a biscuit dough exterior. I tried to make it once on my own and it was a complete disaster. Congratulations on your cooking success!

  16. Oh my gosh, that looks SO GOOD! I should not have looked at this post right at lunch time. It’s making me even hungrier!

    It reminds me of a French Canadian meat pie that is a traditional Christmas Eve dish.

  17. Belated praise! Anything with a crust impresses me; anything with a crust cooked in a NY apartment makes my jaw drop with impressedness. It’s funny how spice amounts turn out different in different situations, counterintutive sometimes. I love my heavy Belgian enameled skillet. I went years with just woks and a thin stainless fry pan, then my grandma gave me her skillet because it was too heavy for her to heave around anymore, now I hardly use anything else. I’m not sure how it affects flavor, but it is a lot easier to use, the heat is more even, and it’s easier to get to a good temperature and keep it there.

    “Cook until vegetables are wilted.” I like the way you say it like it is!

    • I did get that. You’re still juggling pastry, I’m still impressed. I have had failures with boughten crusts where they split at the folds because I tried to unfold them when they were too cold.

  18. Pingback: New Year’s Resolutions: A Manifesto « Jenny's Books

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