March 25, 2011

Hand Pies!

I'm not sure why I've been entranced with the idea of hand pies this month.  It could be that with the busy schedule I like the thought of having something to go from freezer to plate that's homemade and flavorful after a long day of work.  It could be that I just like any excuse to use my killer pie crust.  It could be that I need something appropriately British to match the accent my internal dialogue has picked up since I spent two sick days on the couch watching Downton Abbey.  Or it could be that they're just a really great idea.  A pie you hold in your hand.  A pie you can eat all by yourself without getting funny looks.  A hand pie!

Pie Crust
2.5 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
1 cup water

This is my fool-proof, easy-as-pie crust recipe.  I graciously borrowed the ingredients from Smitten Kitchen, and tweaked the method to fit my no-pastry-cutter-having kitchen. The main thing to remember is to keep everything you're using cold.  The butter, the bowls, the water, etc.  Use a large bowl, and a metal one if you have it.  The night before you make crust, place the two sticks of butter in your freezer on 2 plates (henceforth referred to as "freezer plates").   

When you're ready to make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in your mixing bowl and place in the freezer.  Fill your measuring cup with water and drop in two ice cubes.

Pull out a box grater, one freezer plate and Stick #1 of frozen butter.  Grate half the butter onto the plate, then put the other half in the freezer and pull out Stick #2.  Grate half of that stick, then put the rest in the freezer.  Put the plate full of pretty little grated butter tendrils into the freezer to stay nice and cold while you finishing grating your remaining half-sticks on the second freezer plate. 
Once all the butter is grated, dump it into the bowl with the dry ingredients and use a fork to integrate the butter and flour (or pastry cutter should you have such fancy tools at your disposal).  This should only take a minute, and the small lumps don't have to be uniform at this point.  

Now you'll add 1/3 of the water (no ice cubes!) to the flour-butter mix and incorporate with your hands to mix it all in.  If you need to add more water, you can add the entire cup, BUT you want to do so using a tablespoon.  This prevents you from adding too much water at once.  After each addition, you need to incorporate the water fully into the dough before deciding if you need more.  The dough will start to come together and form a ball.  This is when you're done.  The butter is starting to feel melty and the dough is a little stiff, but mostly pliant.  
Cut it in half, then wrap each half well with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using, or freeze up to 2 months.  (Make sure to thaw before using it if you freeze!)
Hand pies
Roll out your pie crust about as thin as you would make it for an actual pie.  Cut into circles about 6-8 inches wide.  (I used the lid to my flour bin.)  Fill the circles with a generous heap of filling, then pinch shut.  You can use the tines of a fork to seal it shut, or fold/twist it.  Place pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze if desired, or bake immediately in a 350F oven until golden brown (15-25 minutes depending on size).  If you freeze them, they can go straight from freezer to 400F oven and will bake for 20-30 minutes.  For long-term storage, freeze first on parchment, then seal tightly in plastic bag. 
It's hard work waiting for me to drop some butter on the floor. 
Hand Pie Fillings
The first filling has an Asian flavor- and was awesome dipped in sweet Thai chili sauce.  It would be greatly enhanced by the addition of some coriander seeds, and feel free to use fresh ginger if you have it.  The second filling is more Latin-flavored.  Not like "e pluribus unum," but like an empanada or taco filling.  It would be great with some smashed avocado and sour cream. 

Vegetable Filling
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced thinly
4 carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed chili pepper, or 2 chili peppers, diced
salt and pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a pan over med-high heat, and add the mustard seeds.  When they start popping, add the cabbage, carrots, onion, and garlic.  Sprinkle with ginger and chili,season with salt and pepper. Saute, tossing every minute or two, until wilted. Add the sesame oil and vinegar, cook another minute, then remove and cool. 

Meat Filling
1 lb ground beef
3 small sweet potatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced (or equivalent of canned diced tomato)
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper

Heat a tbsp oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until just starting to soften.  Add the meat and break it up as it cooks.  Season with salt and pepper, heaps of cumin, and a couple good shakes of paprika, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper.  When the meat is almost completely browned, add the tomato.  You may need to add some extra water if the tomato is not juicy.  Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the flavors meld.  Remove from heat and let cool. 

1 comment:

  1. I WANT. I should pay you to make some for my freezer. You think I kid....