Cooking With Fire: Natchitoches Meat Pie
As summer rolls in the amount of time my family spends on our back patio increases tenfold. It seems that everything happens outdoors, from playing with the kids to cooking.
But after a couple weekends, burgers and brats get a little old, and my wife and I look to expand our grilling repertoire. So we start to break out recipes that would otherwise be cooked in the oven, and instead begin baking and roasting them on the grill.
Now, my wife is a fantastic baker, which I appreciate since I have no talent for it, and meat pie is a family favorite.
Of course, the invention of meat pie is credited to the Greeks, but it goes back a bit further than that. On the wall of the tomb of Ramses II, hieroglyphics depict early pastries that were filled with honey and oats. These recipes made their way north, where the earliest pie recipe of goat cheese and honey was baked by the Romans. The pie began to spread and missionaries and explorers would bring this technique with them on their journeys throughout the world.
These days many countries are known for meat pies, from England to Australia. We wanted to do something a little closer to home this week, so Chef Tom and I are tackling a hand-held meat pie from Louisiana: Natchitoches meat pie.
Natchitoches Meat Pie
Ingredients (makes about 16 dozen pies):
For the filling:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or lard)
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 2 cups yellow onion, small dice
- 1 cup celery, small dice
- 1 cup green bell pepper, small dice
- 1 tbsp Code 3 Spices Sea Dog Seasoning
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
For the dough:
- 1 lb (3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup lard
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 egg
1. To make the filling, preheat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a 12” cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Add the ground beef and pork. Cook until just browned. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, Code 3 Spices Sea Dog Seasoning, oregano, thyme, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring often until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute longer. Add the beef stock and cook until nearly all the way reduced. Add the flour and cook for two minutes longer. Cool the temperature and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. To make the dough, combine the the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Mix well with a fork. Add the lard and begin to cut and mix the lard into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and work with the fork until you have a dough begins to form. Remove from the bowl and briefly knead the dough until all of the flour is incorporated. Form the dough into a ball and and flatten. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
3. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and place on a cutting board. Divide the dough into 16 equal sized pieces. Dust the surface with flour, roll each piece out into a 6” circle. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture onto the round of dough. Wet the rim of the dough with a little water. Fold the dough over the filling so the edges meet. Press the dough together to seal. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
4. Fill a 7-quart dutch oven about half full of vegetable oil. Preheat to 375ºF. Fry the meat pies in batches, about 3 to 4 at a time, careful not to overgrown the dutch oven. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.