Monday, December 1, 2008

Louisiana Natchitoches Meat Pies

Delicious Natchitoches Meat Pies are filled with a combination of ground beef and pork and nicely seasoned with onions, sweet peppers, garlic, cayenne and pepper sauce.

Louisiana Natchitoches Meat Pies

Natchitoches, Louisiana, is the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase and is home to the oldest and largest Creole settlement outside of New Orleans. It is the parish seat of Natchitoches Parish and has a population of 17,865 (2000 census). Pronounced NACK-id-dush, it is also home of the famous Natchitoches Meat Pie, a popular street food since the late 1700's. A half-moon shape of pastry crust is filled with a spicy blend of beef and pork then fried golden and crispy. Seriously addictive, Natchitoches Meat Pies are a true Louisiana food.

Today, meat pies are a state-wide food staple, and include the flavors and culinary traditions of Africa, Brazil, Central America and the Caribbean. In New Orleans, meat pies are a local favorite and a Jazz Fest tradition.

The Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival is held annually in historic Natchitoches at the downtown riverbank along Cane River Lake.
Big name talent, a Meat Pie Eating Contest, a Meat Pie Making Contest and a Triathlon (named the Meat Pie Tri) are just some of the events usually scheduled. For upcoming festival information here.


Recipe: Louisiana Natchitoches Meat Pies

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Inactive time: 1 hour |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: 4+ pies

Ingredients

For the Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • Beef stock or broth, as needed
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce and/or cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Cooking oil, if deep frying
For the Dough:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour, divided
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions

In a heavy-bottomed saute pan, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and celery and saute about 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Last minute or so add the garlic. Add the beef and pork and saute until cooked through and most liquid has reduced down. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for about 60 minutes. Add small amounts of broth as necessary to prevent sticking. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce and/or cayenne pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the dough, cut shortening into 2 cups of flour. Stir in egg yolk and 1/2 cup water to form a sticky dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and sprinkle remaining flour on top, a little at a time, working it in until dough is smooth. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 4 to 6 rounds. Evenly distribute filling in center of each round, wet edges with water, fold over and gently seal with tines of fork. Place pies on a plate lightly sprinkled with flour and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the pie crust in half and spoon a generous portion on each half. Prepare egg wash by whisking together egg and water and brush it around the edge of each round, fold over and press edges together with a fork. Place the meat pies on a greased cookie sheet or pan. Make a couple of small slits in the dough so the steam will vent out, brush some of the egg wash over each pie and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

To Fry: Traditionally at the festivals these pies are fried. Preheat your fryer to 375 degrees F, and then cut the pie crust up into smaller rounds - somewhere between 3 and 5 inches or so. Portion out the meat mixture onto each of the rounds. Proceed as above to fold and seal them with the egg wash, except don't brush the egg wash on top of course. Fry the pies until golden brown; drain and serve hot.

Cook's Notes: You want your filling to be room temperature but not hot. If filling is too hot it will melt the dough and cause filling to break through. May also substitute a homemade or store bought pie crust (Pillsbury recommended). Cheese is not a traditional ingredient in Louisiana meat pies, but if you like it, by all means add some. You'll want about 1-1/2 cups shredded fine. Actual number of servings will depend on how you cut the dough.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com


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