The Speckled Palate

October 14, 2019

Ground Beef Meat Pies

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This post is sponsored by Panorama. As always, all opinions, thoughts and recipes are my own. 

Made famous in Central Louisiana, Natchitoches Meat Pies are traditional savory hand pies. Learn how to make this handheld meat pie recipe with a flavorful Panorama Meats ground beef filling, wrapped in a flaky pastry crust. They’re perfect for sharing at any type of gathering. Makes 14-16 hand pies.

A girl grabs a halved meat pie, from above

There was a surprising headliner at our engagement party ten years ago.

You see, Winston’s from South Louisiana, and when his family hosted an engagement party for us, we didn’t realize the standout of the day would be the MEAT PIES.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Our engagement party was held at an old school South Louisiana establishment, and the chef made all sorts of old school Louisiana dishes for the party.

The next day (and in the following years), all I heard about was meat pies. Mountains of meat pies. Showers of meat pies. Meat pie for daaaaaaaaaays.

Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-uh-dish) Meat Pies, stuffed with meaty filling and surrounded by a flaky pastry crust, are a Louisiana specialty, hailing from the Central Louisiana town of Natchitoches. They’re similar to an empanada with slightly different seasonings and close to a tourtiere, too.

So today, we’re making ‘em at home so you can have a taste of South Louisiana, too.

I want you to know that this meat pie recipe tastes authentic, and it also takes a little time. So before you get started, know that you’re going to start and stop on this recipe a few times before your meat pies are baked and beautiful.

In my opinion, they’re worth the trouble because the flavor is outstanding!

Other recipes I’ve made and loved using Panorama Meats products: Beef Taco Pasta Salad | Grilled Steak Flatbread PizzaHomemade Loaded Queso | Texas Chili | French Onion Steak Pasta

Looking for a handheld appetizer recipe, but unsure where to start? Check out my Appetizers recipe index for inspiration!

Meat pies on a platter with a package of Panorama ground beef, from above

Why I’m using Panorama Meats ground beef in this recipe:

The star of any meat pie recipe is obviously the meat, and we’re making this Cajun classic recipe with ground beef, as per tradition. I used Panorama 93/7 lean ground beef because it cooks up quick and adds incredible flavor to a trinity of traditional South Louisiana veggies without weighing them down by extra fat.

Here’s a quick list of why I like Panorama so much:

  • The beef has a full flavor and is incredibly Why? The cattle are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished, meaning they live in a pasture and eat grasses, legumes and range forage for the duration of their lives.
  • Panorama is rated Global Animal Partnership Animal Welfare Rated Step 4. The brand is also Certified Organic by CCOF. (They also have a Paleo and Whole30 stamp of approval, too, if you’re into that!)
  • The cattle are born and raised here in the U.S.A. by family ranchers.

I’ve been working with Panorama this summer and fall, highlighting various cuts of their beef in different types of recipes because it is so versatile.

Have you tried Panorama Meats products yet?

Collage of the ingredients, side by side, from above

What you’ll need to make this Beef Meat Pie recipe

  • A sharp knife and cutting board
  • Cast iron skillet
  • A large glass bowl (to make your pie crust)
  • Cheese grater (to shred the butter!)
  • Pastry blender
  • Rolling pin
  • 5-6” round biscuit cutter (or a small dessert plate)

Specialty ingredients you need to get your hands on:

  • Panorama Organic Grass Fed Meats 93/7 Ground Beef
  • Salt-free Creole Seasoning

You can find Panorama Meats at your local Whole Foods Market. They’re sold in 120 stores throughout Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, Florida and the Southwest, including Texas, as well as at Brookshire Brothers in Texas.

Collage of how to make the meat filling, showing sauteeing veggies and browning the meat

How to make this Meat Pie recipe

Make the Meat Pie Filling

Use a sharp knife to chop the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic finely. We want them to be as chopped as finely as possible because nobody wants giant chunks of veggies in their meat pies. (You could also do this step with a food processor, if that’s more your jam. Just make sure you don’t puree the veggies, as that’ll give the filling a weird texture.)

Fun fact: Onion, green bell pepper and celery are the “trinity” of South Louisiana cooking. You can find them at the base of most recipes, including jambalaya, gumbo and etouffee.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in olive oil.

Once the skillet is hot, add the veggies, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies for 3-5 minutes and move them around the skillet with a wooden spoon until they’re translucent. (You don’t want them to have any color on them, but we want the veggies to soften up.)

Add the Panorama ground beef, and season with salt, Creole seasoning, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Unsure about all that spice? Here’s what you can do:

  • Season with half of the suggested Creole seasoning, black and cayenne peppers. Just remember, you can add spice, but you can’t take it away!
  • If you have Creole seasoning with salt in it, skip the additional salt, as a regular Creole seasoning will be salty enough.

Break up the meat using the back of a wooden spoon, and brown it, then sprinkle in the flour. Stir that into the meat mixture, cooking for about a minute.

Why are we adding flour? This flour is going to help the stock that we add next thicken! It’s essentially the base to our meat pie gravy.

Next, you’ll pour in that beef stock. Stir it with the other ingredients, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until most of the liquid thickens and is absolutely luscious.

Remove from the heat, and transfer to a food-safe storage container. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until cold. Do not skip this step, as your meat pie dough will fall apart if you do not!

Collage of how to make the pastry dough, showing the steps

Make the Pastry Dough

Use a cheese grater to grate the frozen butter, and then transfer it back to the freezer to stay as cold as possible. (Yes, I realize this sounds insane, but this is going to help the butter disperse better in the dough. Trust me. I do this with biscuits, too.)

Use a fine mesh strainer to sift the flours and salt together in a large bowl. I love using whole wheat flour in this recipe because it adds a nuttiness to the pie crust and pairs beautifully with the all-purpose flour.

Pour the water into a glass with ice cubes. This is going to keep the dough cold—an essential when we make pastry dough!

Use a dough blender or a fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture. When you’re done, the butter should be the size of peas and the texture of wet sand.

Use a tablespoon to spoon the cold water on top of the flour-butter mixture. (I did this in ¼ cup sequences, then when the dough started coming together, added the water 1 tablespoon at a time.)

Use a plastic spatula to gently fold the flour over the liquid. Move the spatula from the side to the bottom in a scooping motion, gently incorporating the ingredients. Do not stir.

Add additional water as needed. You want the dough to just hold together when pressed, and you should be able to see flecks of butter in the crust. You do not want the dough to be sticky or wet.

Form the dough into a round and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour, though you can certainly refrigerate it longer if you want. (I threw mine in the fridge overnight.)

Collage showing how to put together the handheld pies before they go into the freezer

Make and Bake the Meat Pies

Flour a surface, and then place the chilled dough on top of it. Sprinkle that with flour, too. Roll it out using a rolling pin until it’s about ¼” thick. (The key is working quickly and efficiently, but also knowing that if the crust is too thick, it won’t fold well over the meat pies. Adversely, if it’s too thin, it will fall apart as you’re pressing working with it.)

Use a large biscuit cutter or a small dessert plate to cut the dough into 5-6” rounds. You can go smaller, but I like a bigger shape for this so they’re truly hand pies (and not mini ones.) It’s also easier to work with when the rounds are larger.

Measure filling into the center of the dough, then you’ll fold the dough rounds in half, pressing the edges using your fingers and crimp or seal with a fork’s tines. You want to make sure they’re truly sealed, or they’ll burst in the oven.

Repeat the process until all the hand pies have been made, then use a fork or a knife to poke a few holes in the top of the meat pies. (I did mine in a + on the very top, but you can do whatever shape/pattern makes you happy.)

Freeze the pies on a wax paper-lined baking sheet or refrigerate for 1-2 hours so the dough can firm up. As you work with it, it’ll get warm, and this makes for a dicey baking situation.

You can also freeze them days ahead of your event.

If you do this, just know the bake time will be longer because they’re frozen solid.

When the meat pies are chilled and you’re about ready to eat, preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Crack an egg into a bowl, and use a fork to break the yolk. This is the egg wash you’ll brush on top of your meat pies! And yes, you can brush it on the frozen pies.

Place the meat pies (frozen or chilled) on the prepared baking sheet, and brush with the egg wash, and then bake.

The bake time will vary, depending on what you did with the pies earlier. If they’re chilled from the fridge (but not frozen), they’ll bake for 30-35 minutes. If they’re frozen, your bake time will be closer to 45-50. Knowing this, though, you need to keep an eye on them near the end of the cooking cycle, as every oven is different.

Once they’re golden brown and bubbly, remove them from the oven and let cool slightly before serving and enjoying!

Collage of the meat pies before baking and after

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips and Tricks

Louisiana-style meat pies are the perfect finger food to serve at a laid-back gathering! Why? Guests can hold ‘em in their hands and eat them with ease (and without the fear that they’re going to drop some down their shirts.)

To say we love these meat pies is an understatement, though. They never last long in our house because they’re so flavorful.

However, meat pies are a bit fussy when it comes to entertaining because they take a lot of time and planning. I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks for you below to help you succeed! I also want you to eat all the meat pies your heart desires.

Make the meat pie recipe pieces in advance.

You can whip up them 1-2 days beforehand and wait to bake them until just before guests arrive. It’s brilliant because it leads to less stress for you, and your guests will never know you weren’t working until the last minute to get food in the oven. 😉

Work in batches.

Hand pies can be fussy to make, so be prepared to take your time. Make the filling, and chill it. When the filling is chilling, work on the pastry dough, and then let it chill, too. When everything is cold, roll out the dough into rounds before filling each one and sealing them up. Once the handheld meat pies are made, chill them again before it’s time to bake!

Get the kids involved.

While my daughters are too young to cook on the stovetop, our older one enjoyed helping me fill and seal the meat pies before they went into the oven. Depending on your kid’s age and skill level, there is a lot they can assist with in this recipe, from chopping to sautéing to making the pastry dough and filling it, too!

Close up of final meat pie recipe, on a black platter

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Louisiana Meat Pies? These meat pies are a regional dish and are also known as Natchitoches meat pies. They are hand-held pastries with savory, meaty filling! Some of the meat pies have crawfish or pork, but we like the beef meat pies the best. (Which is why we’re sharing it with you here!)

How do I keep the lean ground beef from overcooking? This meat pie recipe is brilliant because we pour in the beef stock before the beef has a chance to overcook! That way, it’s nice and saucy and delicious without becoming too dry.

Could I use a less lean type of Panorama ground beef instead? You certainly can, but I love how the 93/7 ground beef cooks up in this recipe. It makes the filling insanely meaty without the need for any extra fat.

How do I freeze these meat pies? To freeze these individual meat pies, I place them on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking sheet in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid (about 4-5 hours), I transfer them to a freezer-safe plastic bag and seal it up so I can use them whenever in the future. To refrigerate the meat pies, I place them on a lined baking sheet, but then cover with plastic wrap so they don’t absorb any weird scents/flavors from the fridge.

Is there a faster way to make these meat pies? Unfortunately, no, there is not. Working with hot filling and cool crust is a recipe for disaster, so you need to take the time to space it out and do it right! My recommendation is making these 1-2 days before any gathering and taking your time, knowing full well that they will take time.

Can I use a store-bought pie crust instead of making one from scratch? Yes, you certainly can, though I’ll be honest with you: I had a really hard time working with store-bought crust for this meat pie recipe because I couldn’t get it to roll the way I wanted, and it ended up being too thick and crumbly for my liking.

Will these beef meat pies be too spicy for me? Honestly, everyone’s tastebuds are different, so I can’t answer that for you… but you can certainly go light on the Creole seasoning at first. When the meat has cooked through, give it a taste and go from there. You can always add in more of the spices, but you can’t take them away once they’re in the pot.

A halved meat pie is shown on a baking sheet, with ingredients in the background

Quick tips for making this classic Meat Pie recipe

  • Make the filling and pie crust up to 4 days before. You want both of these to be chilled when you’re forming and filling the pies, so making them well in advance and keeping ‘em cool in the fridge is clutch.
  • Go light on the seasoning at first. We like our food well spiced, but everyone’s tastebuds are different. If you’re afraid the seasonings in this meat pie recipe will be too much, just add half of the Creole seasoning. Taste the meat once it’s cooked, and either add the rest of the seasonings or leave it as is. 
  • Make the pies in advance, and freeze them. This is my favorite party trick because it makes entertaining a breeze! When the pies are ready in the freezer, all you have to do is bake them!
  • Store in a covered food storage container for 1-2 days in the fridge after baking.
  • To reheat, toast in the toaster oven. Because heating them in the microwave will make the pastry tough and soggy.

A platter holds meat pies, with Pinterest text

Ground Beef Meat Pies
Yield: 14-16 meat pies

Ground Beef Meat Pies

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chilling/Resting Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Originating in Central Louisiana, Natchitoches Meat Pies are traditional savory hand pies. Learn how to make this meat pie recipe with a flavorful beef filling and a flaky pastry crust that are perfect for sharing at any type of gathering.

Ingredients

Meat Pie Filling

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • ½ green bell pepper, finely diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 ribs celery, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 oz. Panorama 93/7 Organic Ground Beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon salt-free Creole seasoning*
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup beef stock (low sodium, if possible)

Pastry Crust

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cup water (could need more or less, depending on the weather conditions)

Instructions

Make the Meat Pie Filling

  1. Using a sharp knife, chop the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic finely. (You want it to be as chopped as possible because you don’t want giant chunks of veggies in the meat pies.)
  2. In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil.
  3. When the skillet is hot, add the veggies, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent.
  4. When the veggies are translucent, add the Panorama ground beef. Season with the salt, Creole seasoning, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
  5. Break up the meat using the back of a wooden spoon, and move around the skillet as it cooks.
  6. When the beef has browned, sprinkle in the flour, and cook for 1-2 minutes. (We want this to be mixed with the beef mixture so that it can thicken the stock, which is poured in next.)
  7. Pour in the beef stock, and stir to mix with the ingredients. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the meat mixture.
  8. Remove from the heat, and transfer to a food-safe storage container. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until cold.

Make the Pie Crust

  1. With a cheese grater, grate the frozen butter. Once everything
    has been grated, transfer the butter back to the freezer to stay cool.
  2. Sift the flours and salt in a large glass bowl.
  3. Pour water into a glass with ice cubes.
  4. Remove the butter from the freezer.
  5. Using a dough blender or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the fats appear to be the size of peas and the texture of wet sand.
  6. Add ¼ cup of water on top of the flour-butter mixture at a time.
    Use a plastic spatula to lightly fold the flour over the liquid. Do not stir.
  7. Add ¼ cup of water at a time until the dough begins coming
    together, then add water 1 tablespoon at a time so that you don’t make it too wet.
  8. When it’s ready, the dough should just hold together when
    pressed, and you should be able to see flecks of butter in the crust.
  9. Form the dough into a round and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
  10. Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

Make The Meat Pies

  1. On a flat, floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin until ¼” thick.
  2. Using a large biscuit cutter or a small dessert plate to cut the dough into 5-6” rounds. (You can go smaller, but I like a bigger hand pie for this. It’s also easier to work with when the rounds are larger.)
  3. Measure 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling into the center of the dough.
  4. Fold the dough rounds in half, pressing the edges using your fingers and crimp or seal with a fork’s tines. (You want to make sure they’re truly sealed, or they’ll burst in the oven.)
  5. Repeat the process until all the hand pies have been made.
  6. Using the fork or a knife, poke a few holes into the top of the hand pies.
  7. FREEZE or refrigerate 1-2 hours so the dough can firm up again. (If freezing for days on end, the bake time will be longer. You can also let the meat pies unfreeze in the refrigerator 1-2 hours before baking.)

Bake the Meat Pies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. Crack an egg into a bowl. Use a fork to break the yolk.
  3. Place the chilled (frozen or refrigerated) meat pies on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the egg wash.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, bake the meat pies for 30-35 minutes if refrigerated. Bake them for 45-55 minutes if frozen. (Keep in mind that the bake time will vary depending on the size and how chilled your hand pies are, so keep an eye on yours!)
  5. Once golden brown, remove from the oven, and let cool slightly before serving.

Notes

*If using regular Creole seasoning, do NOT add additional salt to anything. Creole seasoning is generally pretty salty, which is why we like to purchase the salt-free kind.

Cooking times will vary! IF FROZEN, the meat pies will take around 45-55 minutes. If refrigerated, they'll bake around 30-35 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as every oven is different!

Erin's Easy Entertaining Tips and Tricks

  • Make the filling and pie crust up to 4 days before. You want both of these to be chilled when you’re forming and filling the pies, so making them well in advance and keeping ‘em cool in the fridge is clutch.
  • Go light on the seasoning at first. We like our food well spiced, but everyone’s tastebuds are different. Add half of the Creole seasoning at first, and once the meat is cooked, taste it to see how it tastes. If it’s good, then leave it as is. If you want more flavor, add in the rest of the seasoning.
  • Make the pies in advance, and freeze them. This is my favorite party trick because it makes entertaining a breeze! When the pies are ready in the freezer, all you have to do is bake them!
  • Store in a covered food storage container for 1-2 days in the fridge after baking.
  • To reheat, toast in the toaster oven. Because heating them in the microwave will make the pastry tough and soggy.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

14

Serving Size:

1 meat pie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 302 Total Fat: 19g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 59mg Sodium: 999mg Carbohydrates: 22g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 11g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

2 Comments

  1. Jan

    As a native Louisianan and all-around bon vivant, I can say that these meat pies live up to their name. Rich and full-bodied, with a dash of spice on the inside then surrounded by a wonderfully flaky crust that holds the filling well so eating is not messy.“Ça, c’est bon!”

    • Erin

      SO happy to hear these meat pies live up to their name! Here’s to LOTS more of ’em this fall and winter. Ça, c’est bon, indeed!

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