Natchitoches Pork Pies

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Food writer/cookbook author James Villas’ pork-opus cookbook  “Pig,” from John Wiley & Sons, won a James Beard award for good reason. All 300 of the recipes start with a good story, include some Southern bit of food history, and–frankly–are worth the trouble to make. To get you enthused, here’s a sample: some of tastiest half-moon, Louisiana-style, fried pork pies you’ve ever had. Eat some. Then buy the book.

Makes 16 small, fried pies

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 ½ lbs ground pork shoulder (Ask your butcher to grind it for you)
  • ½ cup chopped scallions (include some of the green tops)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

 

Pastry Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp ice-cold vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut oil for deep frying

Instructions

  1. Make filling: Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat; add pork, scallions and garlic and cook, stirring and breaking up the pork until it loses all traces of pink color; about 8 minutes. Add salt, pepper and flour and cook until mixture is almost dry.
  2. Transfer meat to a bowl, let cool, then chill.
  3. Make pastry: Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl; add shortening and cut with pastry cutter or two knives until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add egg and milk and stir until a ball of dough forms. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness with a floured rolling pin. Using a clean, empty coffee can, cut out rounds of dough.
  4. Assemble pies: Heap a Tbsp of filling on each round of dough. With fingertips, dampen the edges with water. Fold over to make half-moon and seal edges with a fork dipped in water. Prick twice on top of pie, with fork.
  5. Heat oil in medium cast-iron skillet to 350 degrees. (I used deep-fat fryer) Quickly fry each pie until golden; about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

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