For about a month, I’d been craving a meaty hand-pie. I have no idea why, since I’ve never had them before. I guess it was too much time spent watching documentaries on historic British “houses” (more like castles or palaces) and thinking about the food of Harry Potter.
Since I’m a timid soul who doesn’t like exploring new restaurants on my own (and my husband has a tender stomach), I knew that I’d have to make these pies on my own. And since I’m cheap, I knew I’d be making the pie crust by hand (because why should I buy something that is just flour, butter, water and salt, all of which I always have on hand even though I don’t bake that often).
In my head, I knew that I wanted the crust to be chewy, not the flaky stuff that is traditional for most kinds of pie. When I looked up a recipe for the pie dough (because while I know the ingredients I don’t know the proportions) a peirogi dough immediately caught my eye. I thought it would have the perfect texture for what I wanted.
I have a (relative) lot of homemade jams and jellies that were given to me as a gift for Christmas, so I figured that while I was making meat pies, I could make some fruit ones as well, using the jam as filling.
I made a fabulous meat filling using some pork chops (diced up), grated cabbage (out of a bag of coleslaw mix because I can’t eat a whole head of cabbage), some grated carrot, onion, and some sweet potato (in retrospect, I should have left out the sweet potato). I cooked the pork, onion, and potato fully before stuffing the pierogi dough. I wanted the veggies to stay crunchy figured they’d cook enough in the oven.
This is where I seem to have made the critical error. I’m a lazy cook and love to just throw stuff into the oven and have it come out cooked. I have bought frozen pierogies 3 times before and have used all three cooking methods recommended on the box (saute, oven, and boiling) and had already determined that boiling was the ideal way to cook them. I did NOT take my own advice after making a pierogi dough for my meat pies.
I stuck those suckers in the oven and what came out was a tasty rock. Well, not a rock, but they definitely took some serious chewing to eat (I’d also miscalculated on my fruity pies which leaked and seemed to not have enough filling, either).
So, I found myself the unfortunate owners of some pretty, but not the tastiest meat and fruit hand pies. Did I mention that the meat pies were quite dry because I hadn’t included a gravy? Yeah…
After a couple days in the fridge, I knew I had to do something with them. I hate the idea of wasting food, though, so I didn’t want to throw them away without a second chance. So, I cut 2 of the meat pies up into bite sized pieces and threw them into a pot of chicken stock. The pierogi dough sucked up that liquid beautifully and finally got the texture that I’d craved. I had enough to cover my lunches for work for the rest of the week. I put 2 more meat pies into the freezer for future enjoyment.
By the end of the week, I knew I had to do something with the fruit pies, and I found another meat pie that I’d packaged for my lunch before realizing that I needed to do something better. So, I cut the fruit pies up into pieces and put them into a baking dish along with an apple I’d cut up and a can of sliced peaches (including the light syrup). This I put into the oven for like an hour and a half at 325 (stirring occasionally and looking for the fruit to be tender, but not completely mushy).
The result was delicious! Kind of a deconstructed fruit pie.
As for the “final” meat pie (since I still have 2 in the freezer), I chopped it up and threw it into some left over canned baked beans. Also delicious! And not one bit of my cooking adventure ended up in the trash!
But I think that the next time I want to make a meat pie, I’ll use a traditional pie dough and I think I’ll get some personal sized pie dishes to make them in so that I can enjoy some proper gravy.