In Louisiana, Natchitoches is famous for its extravagant display of Christmas lights, but it is also famous for meat pies—with good reason. The spicy seasonings and mix of chiles, onions, and beef make an unforgettable snack that’s perfectly salty, spicy, and fried.
Meat pies are a quintessential festival snack; they’re perfect for backyard barbecues, festivals, and parties when you have people standing around, as they don’t require any silverware or plates (you can also make the dough a day or two in advance). They are really great the next day, cold for breakfast as well. Another cool thing about ground meat pies is that they can be made all year long, whereas crawfish pies are seasonal. I must warn you about these pies: You can eat more of them than your stomach can handle, and you won’t realize it until it’s too late, so be careful.
Special equipment: You will need a deep-frying/candy thermometer for this recipe.
Game plan: You’ll need to make the Meat Pie Dough before you begin.
This recipe was featured as part of our Mardi Gras Recipes photo gallery.
- Yield: Makes about 16 pies
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground beef (not lean)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 bunch scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 5 dashes Louisiana hot sauce
- Meat Pie Dough, chilled (see Game Plan note)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat, salt, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and black and white peppers and cook, using a metal spatula to break up the meat, for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the meat is lightly browned.
- Add the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, bay leaves, dried thyme, and Worcestershire sauce and cook, stirring, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated and the vegetables have softened.
- Dust the flour over the meat and add the water, stirring to combine (this should tighten up the mixture enough so it won’t leak moisture when it’s encased in the dough). Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the scallions and hot sauce and transfer the mixture to a baking pan (or dish) to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature. Place in the refrigerator until completely cooled, at least 15 minutes more.
- When you’re ready to prepare the pies, heat the oven to 200°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and a dusting of flour. Divide the dough into four even sections to make it easier to work with. Return three of the sections to the refrigerator. Dust the counter with a sprinkling of flour and roll out the first section until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter (or a similar-size bowl or jar lid), cut the dough into rounds. Save the scraps; they can be rerolled if needed.
- Lightly brush the outer edges of each circle with beaten egg. Place 2 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Fold the circle over the filling to make a half circle. Using the back of a fork, press around the round side of the circle to seal the pie. Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough sections.
- When you fill a baking sheet, place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so the dough stays firm. You can also freeze the uncooked pies. Just freeze them on the baking sheet first, and when they are fully frozen, transfer them to a plastic freezer bag.
- To fry the pies, heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven until the oil reaches 350°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer. Fry the chilled pies in batches of four or five at a time, cooking for about 8 minutes, until golden. (Frozen pies will need about 12 to 14 minutes.) Transfer the cooked pies to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or newspaper, and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining pies.