When I think of hand pies, my mind always goes to ones with a sweet filling – the apple pies at McDonald’s, the Hostess cherry pies, even Pop-Tarts – but every so often I crave a good savory meat pie. Many cultures have their own version of this dish: baked pierogis from Poland, salteñas from Bolivia, pasties from the UK, or pâté chaud from Vietnam, to name a few. I tend to make mine in the style of Argentenian empanadas, and my meat of choice when it comes to savory pies is almost always pork.
My hand pie recipe is made with a traditional pie crust, braised pork and potato filling. The pork is slowly braised in beer and chicken stock with lots of fragrant spices. This produces a tender and moist filling full of flavor. The addition of potato to the filling helps absorb some of the juice from the pork during the baking process. The creamy potatoes also add a layer of richness to the pies. If you are pressed for time, I encourage you to use store-bought pie dough as it produces good results as well. This hand pie recipe is perfect to make with family members and friends during the holidays or for your next potluck. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
Pork and Potato Hand Pies
Yield: About 4 dozen
Flaky pie dough (recipe below) or 2 packages of pre-made refrigerated pie dough
1 recipe of beer-braised pork shoulder, shredded and cut into smaller pieces (recipe below, make 1 day in advance)
1 recipe for chopped potatoes with cream (recipe below)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of cream
Pinch of sea salt
1. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Lightly dust a work station. Roll out the pie dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut the dough into circles using a 3 1/2″ circular cookie cutter. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the cut dough from drying out.
3. Whisk together the egg, cream and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
4. Create an assembly line of the braised pork, potatoes, and egg wash.
5. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of pork and 1 heaping teaspoon of potatoes in the center of the pre-cut dough.
6. Brush half of the edges with egg wash. Fold and press to seal. Repeat the process until you have 1 tray ready, which will be about 12-16 hand pies.
7. Preheat the oven to 350°.
8. Using the tines of a fork, pierce once in the center of each assembled pie.
9. Brush with egg wash.
10. Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minute until they are a nice golden brown.
11. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Braised Pork Shoulder Filling
3 lbs. of pork shoulder
Olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
2 sweet yellow onions, 1/2″ slices
5 cloves of garlic
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 bottle of light beer (like a Stella Artois or Corona)
2 cups or more of chicken stock
1/2 packet of gelatin
1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, coriander, cumin, cardamom, and black pepper. Rub mixture on the pork, then let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 450°.
3. Toss the onion and garlic cloves in olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes and remove from the oven. You want them slightly charred.
4. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300°.
5. Meanwhile, heat a Dutch oven to high heat over a stovetop. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Get a good sear on the pork on all sides.
6. Add the roasted onions and garlic to the pot, along with 2 bay leaves. Pour the beer over the pork and onion mixture. Top off with chicken stock to cover the pork. Cover with lid.
7. Braise in the oven for approximately 5-6 hours. Check progress at the 4 hour mark. The filling is done when the meat falls apart.
8. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove the pork and set aside. Strain the broth through a chinois, pushing down the solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Place the pork back into the pot and refrigerate overnight.
9. The next day, remove the harden fat layer on top of the broth with a spoon and discard. Remove the pork and shred and cut any long pieces with kitchen shears. Set aside.
10. Place the broth pot back on the stove and boil over high heat until it is reduced by half. Stir the gelatin into 2 tablespoons of cold water and then stir into the broth. Place the pork back into the pot. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
11. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until completely cooled before using.
Potatoes and Cream Filling
3 cups of Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1/4″ dice (about 2 small potatoes)
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Put 1 1/2 quarts of water in a medium pot. Bring to boil.
2. Add Kosher salt until it tastes like the ocean, about a small handful.
3. Add the chopped potatoes and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl.
4. Stir in cream and taste and add salt if needed. Add a couple turns of the pepper mill. Stir again and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 pound of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2/3 – 3/4 cup of cold ice water
1. Add the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Pulse a few times.
2. Add the butter pieces. Pulse a few more times until the butter pieces are incorporated, but still visible.
3. Slowly add the cold water while pulsing.
4. Stop once the dough comes together.
5. Transfer to a lightly-dusted workstation. Knead until the flour comes tougher.
6. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll the dough into disks.
7. Double wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.