Natchitoches Meat Pies

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes about

    18

    small pies

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

At Natchitoches, a small town in central Louisiana, black locals used to sell meat pies from carts on the street till the authorities cracked down on food made outside commercial kitchens. Subsequently, a sharecropper and local butcher by the name of James Lasyone revived the tradition in 1966, the news spread, the world flocked to his eatery to sample the pies, and today Lasyone’s produces no fewer than two hundred thousand of the half-moon pies per year—all eaten at the restaurant or ordered over the phone (318-352-3353). The patented recipe is undisclosed to everyone but James and his two daughters, but he does concede that “the main secret is in the fried dough, not the filling.” And I do find it amazing that the delectable pies are not very greasy. The stuffed, unfried pies freeze beautifully in Ziploc bags, so you might want to double this recipe.

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • ¾ pound ground beef chuck
  • ¾ pound ground pork
  • ½ cup chopped scallions (part of green tops included)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the Pastry

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut oil for deep frying

Method

To make the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat, add the beef, pork, scallions, and garlic, and cook, stirring and breaking up the meats, till the beef loses its red color. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to cook, stirring, till the mixture is almost dry, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, let cool, then chill.

To make the pastry, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl, add the shortening, and cut with a pastry cutter till the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the egg and milk and stir till a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, roll out about ½ inch thick, and, using the lid of a coffee can, cut out rounds of dough.

To assemble the pies, place a heaping tablespoon of filling on one side of each round of dough. With your fingertips, dampen the pie edges with water, fold the other sides of dough over the filling, and seal the edges with a fork dipped in water. Prick twice with a fork on top.

To fry, heat the oil in a medium cast-iron skillet to about 350°F, quickly fry each pie till golden, about 2 minutes on each side, and drain briefly on paper towels. Serve hot.