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:
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
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.