I love meat pies. All sorts of meat pies. Those bland ones the Anglos make that I slather with hot sauce and salt. Tasty pasties made by my dear friend, Stauna’s Dad in Butte, Montana! Then there is the magical empanada! I could go on and on and on about empanadas – and one day I will. I think I will wait until I am in Colombia to do that. Meat pies can be eaten as a snack or an appetizer or as an entrée. Versatile thing – a meat pie is!
Today, I will talk about my Cajun Meat Pies. My Aunt Rowena was talking about meat pies the other day and that just gave me the “envie” for one. “Envie” is Cajun French for “desire to eat”. And when you get the envie for something – look out – you have to have it! Since the removal of Pierre (and my gall-bladder) earlier this year, I try to avoid fried foods, and most meat pies readily found in these parts are at truck stops and are deep fried. They are absolutely fabulous – without a doubt! I just choose to enjoy my meat pies baked at this point in my life, and thus, I enjoy them more!
This is all the good stuff I use to make my Cajun Meat Pies. Some of these ingredients are expected to be included – like the blessed trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper. But, including carrots in the pies? Hey – if I can sneak vegetables into my meals I will! Carrots also add a nice sweetness! I like to use a ratio of 2/3 ground beef to 1/3 ground pork. I had some extra green onions that were about to go bad, so I decided to chop them up and toss them in. I used a head and a half of garlic. I love Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (hey – they spell my name correctly!), as do most Cajuns. A good bit of salt is necessary to season the meat and I like a bit of cayenne – but not too much. I like to brown everything down in a big Magnalite pot - or other heavy-bottom pot – and let the mixture cool down overnight in the icebox and make the pies the next day.
Ever saw this quick way of cutting up a bell pepper? You cut off the bottom. Then make four quick cuts on the sides. Easy to do and little waste!
I used my handy little food processor to chop up all of the vegetables really small so that they would disappear into the meat as the mixture cooked down. I do not have a large processor at this time. You know what – that is ok – this little wonder works just fine for me. I really did not keep track of the quantities of everything in exact detail but I think I had:
8 lbs beef, 4 lbs pork, 8 onions, 6 stalks celery, 4 bell peppers (2 yellow, 2 orange), 1 1/2 head garlic, 8 green onions, 8 medium carrots, salt (about 3 Tablespoons - to taste) , cayenne (about 2 teaspoons - to taste) and Lea & Perrins (about 4 tablespoons - to taste).
On the subject of herbs and spices: You can add whichever herbs and spices you would like. I tend to be a person who is a minimalist. I like things plain. That is not saying I do not like things that are not flavorful. I just like the flavor of the ingredients that are in this dish already and I do not think other flavors are needed. If you like other flavors and would like to include them – please do so! The choice is yours! As a matter of fact – if my parsley had not gone to seed – I am sure I would have chopped some up and thrown some in prior to forming the pies!
While I was cooking down the meat mixture, there was a great quantity of grease which formed in the pot - 6 cups to be exact. Probably because I used beef that was 80% lean and not a higher % lean. But, fat is where the flavor is. Interesting how the orange bell peppers tint the fat orange – no? I skimmed that out and discarded it as the meat and vegetables cooked down and browned. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that extra fat in my meat pies!
I cooled down the meat mixture overnight in my icebox and then chopped some more green onion from my herb garden and added that to the meat mixture.
I am not one to make pie dough at this point in my life. Who knows about next week? Today I relied on the wonderful pre-packaged stuff.
I admit that I made this pie formation thing up as I went and my pies changed form over time.
Some were small and some were large. Some of the seals stayed stuck and some opened up. I will have to experiment more over time and see what works best and get back to you on what I think is the best sealing method. I am not sure at this moment to tell you the truth.
My, oh my, I need to clean my toaster oven! In any case, I cooked up a couple of smaller pies for me and Aunt Rowena for lunch. She also had some beef meat spaghetti my sister dropped off for my daughter and her to enjoy. Not me, of course with my tomato allergy – oh well… Aunt Rowena said she loved hers – and had no idea there were carrots in there! I like that! I made a total of 50 meat pies to freeze for me and my family.
I wrapped each one with plastic wrap. As you can see from this photo – the pies gradually became more round. I then put them in large zip-lock bags for secure storage in the freezer – labeled of course with contents and the date! I love my Cajun Meat Pies – try them – I think you will too!