Buttery, flaky buttermilk pie crust wrapped around a savory mixture of steak, carrots, potatoes, and onions, seasoned with oregano and rosemary, and cooked in an easy homemade gravy. These hand pies are one of my favorite recipes to ever come out of my kitchen!
How is everyone this fine Monday morning? We’ve made it to week three of Nerd Month (What’s nerd month? Read about it here). Last week was Bryan Fuller week, and while we are moving on from that, today’s recipe is still tangentially related because it’s for American Gods, a novel he just happens to be adapting for Starz.
But that show is not yet out (2017, set your calendars, I’m so excited!) so today’s recipe is for the book, which is a delight.
I was late to the Neil Gaiman party, but when I heard Fuller was adapting American Gods, I immediately ran out and picked up it and Good Omens (more on that some other time), and fell completely in love.
The book is a fantastic blend of small-town mystery and epic mythology, with characters ranging from literal Norse gods to kindly sheriffs and the main character Shadow is one of the more likable, reasonable protagonists you’ll ever come across. It’s a fast, compelling read and also has one of my favorite character monologues ever.
I knew I wanted to do a recipe from the novel for Nerd Month, so I reread it a few weeks ago and was surprised to find that for a book about regional America, there isn’t actually a ton of very appetizing food in it. The one food that really stood out was the beef pasties that Shadow eats throughout the novel, so that’s what I went with.
Plus, I’d never had a pasty before, and I kind of wanted to give one a try. After all, as Shadow says, “It’s real good.”
And they are good. I mean, real good. How good are they? Well, my sister was visiting last weekend, tried them, and then stole all of the leftovers when she returned to LA.
Unless you don’t like/eat beef, I dare you to try not to fall in love with these things. The shell is made from my favorite buttermilk pie crust, so it’s flaky and buttery and perfect. And the filling is a salty, savory mixture of steak, carrots, potatoes, and onions, seasoned with oregano and rosemary, and cooked in an easy homemade gravy.
Meat pies like these have always intimidated me a little, but I actually managed to make this recipe pretty straight forward and fool-proof. There’s always a degree of difficulty when it comes to making stuffed pastries from scratch, but this recipe does as much to eliminate that as possible.
The buttermilk pie crust (which I’ve raved over before) is made in the food processor (if you don’t own a food processor, this is the one I own–I can’t recommend it highly enough) and is really beginner friendly when it comes to handling and rolling. And unlike a lot of pasty recipes I’ve seen, this stuffing is fully cooked before the pies go into the oven, so you don’t have to worry about whether your meat is cooked through or vegetables tender before they come out of the oven.
But my favorite thing about them is that they freeze and reheat amazingly. All you have to do is pull one out of the freezer, pop it right in the microwave, and one to two minutes later, you have a sizzling hot pasty that tastes like it just came out of the oven!
Easy Beef Pasties
- 1 cup (8oz, 2 stick cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 12 ounces beef chuck (stew meat) diced 1/2-inch
- 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes 1/2-inch dice
- 3/4 cup diced carrots 1/4-inch dice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt*
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Before you begin measuring everything out, place the cubed butter in the freezer to chill.
- Stir together flour, sugar, and salt, and pour into the food processor. Add butter and pulse until butter is cut into the flour, but still has visible chunks.
- While pulsing, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and continue to pulse until the buttermilk is incorporated into the dough. At this point, your dough should look like rough crumbs and hold their shape if squeezed together. If dough does not hold its shape, drizzle in a little more buttermilk, up to 2/3 cup until it does. The dough will look a little scary at this point, but don't worry. It's supposed to look like that!
- Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dump half of your dough crumbs onto the sheet. Gather the edges and press tightly together to form a 1-inch thick disk. Do the same with the rest of the dough. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 24.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat (watch closely, you don't want to burn the butter) and add the meat. Cook until well browned.
- Add potatoes and carrots and cover with just enough water that the meat and vegetables are submerged. Add salt, rosemary, pepper, and oregano.
- Bring to a boil, turn down to medium and simmer for five minutes. Meat should be cooked through and potatoes should be softened, but still have a bit of a bite to them.
- Remove from heat and drain the cooking liquid into a separate container for later use. Set liquid and meat and veggies aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour and whisk continuously for 1 minute until a sticky paste forms and flour turns golden. Whisk in 1 cup of the reserved broth (discard the rest). Simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, whisking continuously, until a thick gravy forms. Remove from heat and stir in the meat and vegetable mixture, making sure everything is well coated.
- Whisk together egg and milk in a small bowl to make your egg wash.
- On a well-floured surface, divide your dough into 4 to 6 equal-size pieces and roll into balls. If you are slow at rolling out pastry dough, place all the balls, but one, back in the fridge and work with one at a time so the dough stays chilled and easy to work with.
- Re-flour your work surface and roll first ball out to 3/8 inch thick with a floured rolling pin, forming as round of a circle as you can manage (trim edges with a knife if necessary. Pick up your dough to make sure it is not stuck to your work surface. If it is, use a metal spatula to dislodge it before filling.
- Brush egg wash around the edges of your pie crust to help seal it and spoon beef mixture over slightly less than half of the pie, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold pie over and use a fork to crimp the edges closed. Cut 3 slashes in the top and transfer to baking pan.
- Repeat with remaining dough balls. You may have a bit of meat mixture left over, depending on how thin you rolled out your pies. You can eat it with a spoon.
- Brush pies with egg wash and and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until pies are beautiful and golden.
- Allow to cool slightly and enjoy.
Make-ahead Instructions: Pie dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours and in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Recipe for Two Instructions: This recipe halves cleanly. Keep a close eye on the butter and flour as you make the gravy. They will cook a bit faster when halved. Otherwise, no cooking changes are needed.
Freezer Instructions: Cooked pasties freeze very well. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in an air-tight container or freezer bag. Reheat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. They come out flaky and crispy as though just out of the oven.
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