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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Transfer meat to a bowl, let cool, then chill.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.