Saturday, June 6, 2015

Natchitoches Meat Pies

Helloooo, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a fun recipe that probably a lot of you have tried before, but is NOWHERE to be found up here in the Pacific Northwest.
                                                 (Edward was quite the helper chef. He makes a mean chicken turnover!)

 So, a friend of mine had a baby (he's ADORABLE but although I got to cuddle him for a while, I completely forgot to sneak a picture of his tiny, adorable self) and we wanted to bring her dinner.  My girls said they wanted to make chicken turnovers (which  Jan has done a version of ) but I wondered if the cream cheese wouldn't be such a hit with the littler kids. I thought we should also make Natchitoches meat pies, which play a role in my book, The Pepper in the Gumbo which is set in (you guessed it!) Natchitoches, Louisiana.
(We went on a trip recently and my son was completely fascinated with... the pay phone. 
He could get enough of this rare artifact. It was SO BIG.)
Now, I know this recipe has about a gazillion steps but it’s worth the time and effort! It’s a long list of ingredients, but they’re ones you probably already have and you need every one, so don’t skip any. (Except maybe the jalapeño. People argue about that one. I included it here because more people say it should be in there, than it should be out. I personally don’t care for jalapeños, so I leave them out. If you need it a little hotter, adjust the Louisiana hot sauce to maybe 2 tsp instead of just the one.) 
          1 tablespoon  vegetable oil
         1 pound ground beef
           1 tablespoon salt
          1 teaspoon paprika
          1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
         1/2 teaspoon chili powder
         1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
           1/2 teaspoon black pepper
           4 small tomatoes, diced
          1 bell pepper, finely chopped
         1 medium jalapeño pepper, finely chopped     (I didn't add it to the batch because I knew they had little kids who might not appreciate the kick!)
          1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
           5 bay leaves
           1 teaspoon thyme
           1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
          1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce or similar
          2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
           2 tablespoons water
          ½ cup sliced green onions (I left those out this time because... I didn't have any!)
          Pie dough, chilled 
    Combine the meat, salt, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and black pepper in a large skillet (even better if it’s cast iron!). Cook the meat over medium-high heat until it is lightly browned and all the ingredients are combined.
  Throw in the chopped tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapeños (or not). Stir well. Add in the bay leaves, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or so, until the liquid starts to evaporate. 
 Take out the bay leaves and throw them away. Sprinkle the flour over the meat and add the water. Stir it all together. Adding the flour keeps the mix from getting too runny while it cooks in the pie dough. Add in the green onions and hot sauce, mix well.

(Random photo of a book I found in our local library. Isn't that hilarious? Nobody knows what crawfish are here. It would be like asking if they liked pickled quail eggs. But somehow this book ended up in our library, and the little crawfish sings little Cajun French songs and I was IN LOVE.)
Roll out the dough to about 1/8 of an inch thick. Then, using a 4-inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into circles.  Place  about 2 1/2 tablespoons of filling into the center. Fold the circle over the filling to make a half circle. Press the edges closed with a fork and place onto a baking sheet.
 Natchitoches meat pies are traditionally fried but I have this thing about hot oil, so we baked ours an they were DELICIOUS. 

Ignore the radish. I thought it was going to be so good but it was HOT. I felt like I'd taken a bite of horseradish, instead of radish. YOW.
 One more random photo. Our library has been undergoing huge, awesome changes, including a renovated children's section. Instead of a straight chair in the corner, it now has a teepee, a train table, a puppet theater area, lego tables, and LOTS of books. I'm just THRILLED that it's so welcoming to kids now. And here are my youngest two, looking like a pair of puppets on display. I don't know how they got up there, but it made me laugh.
Happy weekend to everyone and I hope you get time for some good books, good food, and family!


  1. I love making meat pies. I've used any kind of meat filling I want (leftover turkey and gravy (light on the gravy) after Thanksgiving, chicken pot pie filling, taco filling, Shepherd's pie filling..... and I do them just like this only I use a 3 inch circle because we have big boys here. And I fire up the garage fryers to cook them. Remember the Scottish pasties? Bridie Pies? I remember reading historicals where the farmer went off to the field with a couple of these pies in a sach or pouch and that was lunch.

    Such a delicious, handy food! Virginia, thank you for making these for your friend. What a lovely thing to do! I haven't made them in a few years, but you've inspired me to do it soon!

    And stinkin' cute kids, btw!

    1. I love all pies! Cherry pies, apple pies, chicken pies, taco pies... And Natchitoches meat pies have such a unique flavor. I think it's the bay leaves, Louisiana hot sauce, cumin powder, and chili powder. That combo just can't be found anywhere else!

  2. Okay, that post was worth reading just for the picture of your son with the dinosaur phone booth. LOL. Side-splitting funny. Did you give him some money so he could make a call? It costs a dollar up here to use a pay phone now.

    And hooray for kid friendly libraries. Such fun to decorate! Glad your library is so inviting.

    1. It's a gorgeous state lark and I think he spent 80% of his time with the phone! And I think I might take some good pictures of our library for next weekend's post. It's amazing. Our new director is so creative, so artistic, so savvy...we're in heaven. Out here in the boonies, there is actually no indoor play area for kids. No McDonald's play area, no covered parks, no anything. When the weather (110F in the summer or 10F in the winter) happens, people with small kids are out of luck. But our new director wanted teens and kids and parents to have some place to connect, meet, play, relax. I just love her!

  3. These sound delicious!! Of course, I'm with you. I'd leave out the jalapeños.

    Look! You did make adjustments to a recipe and it worked out fine! :)

  4. Oh, my goodness, these look MAHVELOUS!!!

    1. They're better fried but hey, fewer calories with baking!

    2. I hear you on the calories... And either way, meat pies are so delicious! Love 'em. Now I'm hungry for a meat pie...

  5. I'm putting these on this week's menu! My family will love them!

    The cumin, chili powder and Louisiana hot sauce combo sounds wonderful. I can't wait to try them.

    1. I think that's what makes them unique. Meat pies have been around forever, like Ruthy said, but this combination of flavors really switches it up. Have fun!