Natchitoches Meat Pies

So during my experience as a Utah girl transplanted to Louisiana, my feelings about this place have ranged from complete and utter despair (think August…humidity…mosquitoes…cockroaches…) to the thrill of living in a place so steeped in history and folklore. And the fact that I pretty much never have to wear pantyhose. One of my favorite places to visit and to take visitors is a little town called Natchitoches (pronounced NACK-it-esh; don’t even ask). Check this out:

That is not a prettied-up version–it’s exactly what it looks like. It’s this fabulously charming little town (actually, the oldest settlement in Louisiana) with a historic district where you just stroll around and pop in and out of little shops and restaurants. There’s almost always something going on, the people are friendly (one lady, complete stranger, offered my dad some cracklins when he asked him what they were. Turns out they’re pieces of fried pork fat.), and the food is amazing. Natchitoches is famous for its meat pies and you can pop into pretty much any little restaurant and find “the [supposed] best meat pies in Natchitoches.” During all the fairs, festivals, and shows that always seem to be going on, meat pie vendors will set up carts and you can hold onto a pie while you stroll around at a slower pace, feeling like you’re magically in a simpler time. I know, I sound like I’m totally romanticizing this place, but what can I say? I’m a girl in love.

Louisiana is such a melting pot of cultures; along with the traditional Southern foods like fried chicken, grits, and barbecue, different regions of Louisiana are also heavily influenced by the Europeans who settled there. Natchitoches was settled by the Spanish, so the meat pies you find there aren’t terribly different from empanadas that you find in Spain, Portugual, and South and Central America, they just have some Cajun flair. And oh, my, they are so delicious.

I made a few discoveries while playing around with these over the last few weeks:

–The meat mixture gets better over the course of a few days. This is great because you can make the meat mixture and let it hang out in your fridge for a few days, which cuts way down on the time that you have to spend all at once.

–Both the saltiness and spiciness of the meat will be toned down once it’s baked in the pastry, so don’t stress out if the meat mixture tastes a little too salty or spicy when you’re testing it. Also, unless you absolutely cannot handle ANY spice, these should have a bit of a bite to them, so keep that in mind when you’re seasoning the meat mixture with Tabasco. It’s a good idea to make it a touch spicier than you’d normally want it to be.

Homemade pie crust makes a world of difference here. I’ve tried it both ways. There are times when I think a refrigerated pie crust is just fine, but the meat pies I made with homemade crust were incredible and homemade pie crust is really not hard. Like…at all.

–The egg wash also makes a huge difference, both for their appearance and for the texture of the pastry. Unless you have egg allergies, I think you should definitely do the egg wash.

–Although these are traditionally fried, I found that frying is not only harder, unhealthier, and messier, but I like them better baked. We’re talking about pie crust here…not exactly health food to start with, you know?

I also love that these are perfect party food. You can make larger pies for a meal or use a round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut small circles of dough and make little appetizers.


They’re festive and fun and a little different from your typical holiday or party fare. They also reheat and freeze beautifully; my husband loves to take them to work for lunch. Have I blabbered on long enough? Yeah, probably. Shut it, Kate…

Natchitoches Meat Pies
Recipe by Our Best Bites, adapted from Chef John Folse

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2+ tsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (it’s the cheapest, best, and widely available)
Tabasco sauce to taste (start with about 1/4 tsp.)
1 can beef broth
Pie Crust, tripled
1 egg
1/4 c. cold water

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and ground pork, breaking the meat into small pieces. When it’s about halfway cooked, drain excess fat (if necessary) and then add green and red peppers, onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender and onions are translucent. Add 2 tsp. Tony’s and 1/4 tsp. Tabasco. Add beef broth and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with additional Tony’s and Tabasco if necessary, keeping in mind that the seasonings will mellow in the pie. You can refrigerate this mixture for 3-4 days before baking the pies.
Prepare pie crust and roll the entire ball onto a floured surface. For large (meal-sized) pies, I use a bowl that’s about 6″ across the top; I just invert the bowl onto the dough and trace a knife around it to cut the dough.

Place about 1/4 c. of the meat mixture onto one half of the dough circle, keeping about a 1/2″-1″ margin from the edges.

Fold the other side over and gently pinch the edges shut.

For the decorative edge, you could crimp the edge with a fork or use your fingers to flute the edges. You could also use a calzone or empanada mold (used in these pictures).

Preheat oven to 400 and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Place prepared pies onto your baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and cold water and brush over the pies.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool a few minutes and then eat as soon as humanly possible. So good. There are…no words.

Makes about 12 6″ pies or lots and lots of small (biscuit cutter) pies.

FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS: You could do this one of two ways; you can freeze them unbaked and just add the egg wash and bake them for an extra 15-20 minutes, or you can bake them and heat them up in the oven or microwave, whatever suits your needs better.

 

 

478 comments

  1. Natchitoches looks and sounds like such a fun place! I'm sad I never heard of it while I lived on the Gulf Coast. Maybe in another life… I'll have to try the meat pies. We celebrate Chilean Independence and have empanadas every year.

  2. Love this site! Instructions are great and every time I make something I get raves! Even though I will have to manually chop everything, I am going to make these pies for my Open House tomorrow night. Thanks for sharing with us all.

  3. We lived in Louisiana for about 4 years. I was so excited moving back to Texas to be closer to my family, but I miss my LA friends and food!!

  4. I can see that I'm going to have to look at a Tupperware catalog. Haven't seen any for a long time. I'm making meat pies tonight! Look soooo good.

  5. While the gadget is cool and all, I really had to thank you for the recipe. I have the ingredients in my fridge for making meat pies and I'm gagging as I think of making one big one with an untried recipe. Way better, here, is what you've given me … handpies and FREEZABLE! And I hope you don't miss Utah too much. It's been terribly cold this year. But then again, I'm a northern CA transplant to Utah, so this isn't my normal either.

  6. Just recently discovered Best Bites and love your writing style, your recipes and your beautifully composed photos. Thanks so very much!

  7. Oh my goodness gracious, sakes alive these are delicious!! I haven't been to Natchitoches in over 6 years and feel in love with the town!! My mother lives in Leesville but we live over 4000 miles away!!

    Thank you so very much for posting the recipe!! Thank goodness I still have some Tony's left!! Woo hoo I know what we are having over Christmas break!!! Once again thank you so very much!!! I will think of my folks and our wonderful visit everytime I eat these!!! (Just out curiousity whereabouts are you in LA? You can e-mail me instead of posting if you would rather)

  8. Hey, Peggy! 🙂 I can't find your email, but your mom and I are practically neighbors! I'm in the Alexandria area. Thank goodness you still have some Tony's–that would be bad news if you didn't!! I thought they sold Tony's everywhere in the US (of course, that's a huge assumption that you're still in the US, especially if you're 4000 miles away), but it will be a sad day when I can't find it at the store!

  9. That town pic looks so incredible. I can't believe places like that still exist in the world. It's kind of crazy to me but I'm so glad! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I haven't explored the Tupperware world in a long time. Looks like I'm waaaaay behind the times! One of these would be great to play with. I'm sending this post on to my kids at Ft. Polk. Maybe they'll take me to Natchitoches for a pie the next time I visit. Hint, hint.

  11. Mmm, your meat pies look wonderful I'm going to have to make some! Great giveaway! I'm off to look at Tupperware!

  12. ok – so I love anything tupperware, and I am excited to try meat pies done this way. I had them in England once, and they were not so good….

  13. I just love your blog! I have always wanted a food processor and this cute little chopper would be perfect! I have lots of Tupperware, but have run out of space, so haven't purchased more in a while. Thanks for telling us about all the cool gadgets they have now…LOVE IT!

  14. I love empanadas and this one looks delicious. I make something similar for my Puerto Rican husband. I agree about the meat being better after a few days. I always make a batch of my meat filling and put some in the freezer for later. Yummy!

  15. These pies look delish- thanks for the recipe. that town looks so quaint but empty it must have been early in the morning

  16. These sound yummy! I think I'll have to add them to the menu for next week!
    And that Tupperware thing is awesome! I went to a party once where it was demoed and the demonstrator made pico de gallo. It was yummy and so easy! I've wanted one ever since! Maybe this will be my lucky day…doubt it though.

  17. My last Tupperware party was in 1977.Looks like it's time to have another one asap!
    I sure could use this chopper, my food processor has been in storage for 2 years….
    Linda

  18. I love me some empanadas! I got real used to them while I lived in Paraguay. I would love to win the food chopper, too!

  19. We Acadians are kissing cousins to the Cajuns. We too have a meat pie served traditionally for Christmas Eve and rather than hot spiced it is spiced…with cloves, cinnamon and allspice. Yummy stuff that! That is a lovely street…right out of a magazine pretty.
    I would love any contraption that helps get me out of the kitchen sooner!

  20. I need a chopper that I don't have to haul out and plug it. This looks perfect.

  21. Oh wow, those look yummy! I'm going to ask hubby if he'd like them. Cheaper than hot pockets and tastier too I bet!

  22. My hubby and I are transplants to southern Louisiana and it really is a charming place to live! Love the food and now have a reason to visit Natchitoches!!!

    Now off to check out the Tupperware site. My hubby's favorite kitchen tool is their hamburger press that we have had for YEARS!!!!

  23. Being British, meat pies are in my house are as common as milk or eggs : ), which means loads of chopping- I NEEEEED this Quick Chef chopper!

    Love this blog, each and every post!

    Happy Christmas ladies!!!

  24. I REALLY need one of those choppers so I don't have to spend extra $ at the store for already chopped stuff cause I work and all and I need CONVENIENCE big time!

  25. Love your site and recipes.My son has been living in Hawaii for the past 6 years and hasn't had good Cajun food until he comes home to see me. I'd love to be able to fix him some of these.

  26. Wow, I was salivating just reading the recipe. I will definitely try them! Can't do the egg wash though due to a food sensitivity–do you think milk would work instead?

  27. These sound super-yummy … and what a great little gadget to add to the kitchen. Thanks for the chance to win.

  28. Those sound delish, and would be great to make ahead and freeze. Wow, Tupperware has some neat things at her site, thanks.

  29. I found your blog last week, and seriously I think I am in love! Also, thanks for the link to Lolly's blog, I agree, she is wonderful!

  30. Those meat pies look like serious food. I mean seriously good food. And the thingy…that looks like it would be great to have around.

    –The Damsel in Dis Dress
    http://www.mynewoldschool.com

    (for some reason OpenID doesn't seem to work any more)

  31. making these today in our East Coast snow storm. we used to live in New Orleans – and these spoke to my memories!!!

  32. Those pies look yummy. I am a big fan of chicken pot pies but I never thought of meat pies… way to go, Kate!
    I also love the chopper… I have wanted one of those forever!

    Linda 😉

  33. I have a quick chef and I LOVE it! It makes the best salsa, whips icing beautifully, and saves my eyes when trying to cook with onions.

  34. Would love this. It would make chopping so much more enjoyable. 🙂

    PS can't wait to make the pies!!

    Christina

  35. Those pies sound mouth watering, I can't wait to try them. And that chopper looks like something I could really use!!

  36. I'm a Las Vegas girl transplanted into the south (Georgia) so I can relate. It's a fun cultural experience and so beautiful but so far from family! I enjoy your southern recipes so I can pretend to be a part of things here. And my food processor recently died and I mourn it's loss so this contraption would be a great little tool to tie me over until I can afford another processor! And my anniversary's the 29th so just give it to my husband and tell him you've gotten covered :o)

  37. This looks great. I think I may have to make them for our New Year's Eve party! Thanks for the appetizer idea!

  38. I just came across your blog a couple of weeks ago and have already tried many recipes! I LOVE THIS BLOG. Many of my baked goods christmas gifts are coming from your ideas. I'm so excited to get started on them next week. And that gadget for meat pies…wow! I need one badly. My food processor died on me a few weeks ago and I have a 2yr old and 11wk old so any time savers, saves my life, especially while trying to get dinner on the table!

  39. This sounds like dinner tonight, yum. I love the site and I am making fruity popcorn for my son's school party.
    I am so excited and love your giveaways.

  40. Would so love to have one of these choppers!
    And thank you for all the wonderful recipes & ideas you share!!!!

  41. We make something very similar to these, only we toss in lots of veggies and potatoes to make a Pastie. Their even better if you don't have to put all the work into making them – thanks for freezer instructions! I might add these into my cooking day.

  42. I do not own a food processor and every once in a while a recipe calls for one and a blender just will not cut it. This would be great to have. katklaw777 at yahoo dot com Great giveaway, those meat pies look yummy!

  43. That chopper would be awesome! I would probably be willing to cook twice as often if I didn't hate chopping things so much.

  44. I'm from Mississippi and these meat pies look delicious. Of course I'd love the Quick Chef in my kitchen.

  45. Sounds so delicious!
    I'd love the chance to win that great gadget!
    :o)
    pippirose59 at gmail dot com

  46. I have some sort of food processor smallish thing I love or should I say loved. I think the blades dulled and now it doesn't chop. I would love this gadget and those meat pies look delisH!

  47. I believe I have all the ingredients for these in my cabinet right now! I love recipes like that…no shopping just chopping!

  48. The meat pies look delish. Thanks for the tour of Natchi… whatever it is!

    I have always been amazed at what the little quick chef can do. Hope I win. bgbytwerk(at)hotmail(dot)com

  49. Yum! Hubby thought these looked awesome so since it's just the 2 of us we're going to make them for Christmas Eve dinner. Would love the little chopper too – very handy!

  50. I have a cookbook from an old boss who went to Natchitoches and brought it back for me. I chuckled when I saw how it's pronounced. Anyway, this recipe sounds wonderful and I can't wait to try it. I'm also excited about the giveaway! I could use one of those beauties.

  51. I love these, my mom used to use it for salsa. I would love to add this to my kitchen arsenal.

  52. these look sooo good! Thanks for the recipe. Love the chopper as well, have been wanting one of these for awhile. The Tupperware empanada makers work great by the way!

    micaela6955 at msn dot com

  53. I just wanted to thank you for the recipes that make people envy me. Ha ha, I have "borrowed" many of yalls!! Thanks for sharing!

  54. Yeah another giveaway!! You guys are the greatest! I'd love a handy gadget like that. Off to check out the other cool stuff in tupperware world and make some of your delicious ginger spice cookies(i'm addicted to them) 🙂

  55. Those looks really great! I love this site. 🙂 I'm totally making those meat pies this week, my husband will love them.

  56. I love the recipe and would like to try it. I would love to be your winner too. I really enjoy your site.

  57. Yum meat pies. I actually have the empanada makers from Tupperware and have been looking for a recipe to use them. Yay

  58. I found this site googling cafe rio tortilla soup and have spent more time than i will admit perusing, but happiest to read this post since I too was a Utah girl turned Louisianian (but in New Orleans not that darling town you go visit! Bourbon never could look that clean. LOL!) And now I am turned Pennsylvanian and the food here is totally lacking unless you only want to eat Italian.
    Anyways would LOVE the food chopper and will be checking your site for more "southern" recipes.

  59. Ooooo…this looks fascinating!! I have never heard of it! It looks so easy to use. How can you not LOVE Tupperware??

  60. Mmm, they sound delicious! I am a huge fan of empanadas and the northern Michigan (upper peninsula) variety of meat pies known as pasties! Also intrigued by the empanada maker…

  61. Have you seen the movie with Johnny Depp where they make meat pies…anyway, I would love to win this one!!

  62. I'm from La and I've been CRAVING meat pies for months now. But I can't find them up here in northern La and I haven't made it to Natchitoches. So this is perfect!! Thanks!

  63. I think I know what's for dinner tonight! YUM! Thanks for sharing!

    And I just realized while helping a friend prepare dinner or a Christmas party that I am totally missing out on a food processor but no way can I afford one of them! This would be a great start!

  64. I have a craving for all things cajun these days. This will be on my list.
    Merry Christmas! I love your site!

  65. I seriously have one of those on my Christmas list, but I don't think Santa is going to come through for me. Maybe OBB will!!

  66. Meat pies are wonderful! Love the photo and the giveaway is great.
    Thanks for introducing me to a part of Louisiana I've not known about.
    Merry Christmas
    from Thistle Cove Farm

  67. This giveaway is great and those meat pies look delicious. With a little tweaking, they would be a good fit for my family.

  68. MMMM, yum! Believe it or not, this is one of the very few things I haven't tried since moving here, but you don't see them around New Orleans much. So, it looks like I'll have to make my own! Or make a trip in your direction. 🙂 Looks so yummy!

  69. Love the recipe! Can't wait to try it- as always, you are definitely giving me something to look forward to making!

  70. These look super yummy…I'll have to give them a whirl…so far I have LOVED everything on your blog!!

  71. I found your site a week ago and am now addicted!!

    I've made your sugar cookies w/ glace icing, your cinnabun popcorn, and now I have the meat for these pies cooked up and marinating in the fridge waiting to be put into pie crust for Christmas Eve dinner!

    I am in LOVE with all your recipes. I live in a small town in the Alaskan bush and it is sometimes difficult to find ingredients for recipes at our tiny store, but so far I've been able to get evrything i've needed!

  72. I've seen one "in action" and I can tell you that this is the best invention yet by tupperware!!! I would love to have one, as i'm sure it makes life just a little bit easier 🙂

  73. I really want that chopper. It would be so great not only for my kids to use when I make them help around the kitchen, but to use for food storage stuff when the world ends and there's no more electricity (ha ha).

  74. Oh these look soooooooooo yummy. I'm sure my finance and I will be making these very very soon 🙂 the Quick Chef would make them much easier 😉

  75. Cant wait to try this! I have LOVED all your recipes I have tried which is almost all of them! Thanks guys for being so awesome and making my husband VERY happy! 🙂

  76. my mom was from around there… reminds me of her!
    love your site, the meat pies i know are fantastic. haven't done them in ages, so i will try yours.

  77. Tupperware has come a long way since I last checked it out.
    We are going to have to try these pies out…they look so good!
    khorraxe(at)gmail(dot)com

  78. I can not wait to try the meat pies. Your recipes have not let me down so far and think that one looks delicious!

  79. Oh my these look absolutely tasty i cant wait to try them!! I would love this kitchen gadget!! I hope i win!!

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