Want to feel that Natchitoches Meat Pie love without all the rolling, folding, pinching and frying? Then try this. You get delicious meat and gravy filling with an easy to make cream cheese crust to top it off. That’s it and you’re done. If you haven’t made a cream cheese crust I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s very simple and very flaky. If you’re only topping the pie with crust then cut the dough ball in half and use the remainder for something else (like chicken pot pie). It freezes well, so just wrap it up and it’ll be there next time you need it. The dough for this pie was in the freezer for a couple of months but rolled out and baked up beautifully.
Famous for its meat pies and for being the fatal crash site of Jim Croce’s touring plane, Natchitoches even predates New Orleans by a few years. Apparently it was only dominant for a nano second, soon to be exceeded by a far more important port at the mouth of a far more important river.
This fleeting dominance was illustrated to me years ago when I was visiting Rome. I wandered into a used book store off the Piazza Navona where I found displayed on the wall an early 18th century map of La Louisiane! It was a laugh out loud moment when I saw that Natchitoches rated a large red circle while New Orleans was a mere dot. When the store owner asked me, “Che cose é divertente?” I had to laugh again because, you know, Natchitoches is now so relatively small. I’m pretty sure this was the last such map to display the hegemony of the state’s Cane River port, but not to despair, we still have the meat pies.
If you’re in town you have to go over to Lasyone’s for the meat pie plate lunch and the bread pudding, but for those times when Natchitoches isn’t near there is this tasty variation.
For the filling I used andouille instead of ground pork but either is fine as long as you add a bit of cayenne to the pork. If you’re using the andouille just snip the casing and peel it off. After you do this, crumble the sausage into the pan that you’re cooking the meat in and cook until just done.
Add the meat back in, then the flour, pour the broth over it, stir to make a gravy, fold in the green onion tops, then lay the crust over it and run in the oven till brown. You can see from the picture that I used a braising pan for mine, but if you cooked the filling in a cast iron skillet you could just lay the crust over it and cook it in that.
- For the filling:
- ¾ lb. ground beef (15% fat chuck)
- ¾ lb. andouille sausage (or ground pork)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- ½ cup diced bell pepper (any color)
- ¼ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced scallions (white part)
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp. ground thyme
- a grating of nutmeg (or a pinch if you are using ground nutmeg)
- 2½ tablespoons flour
- 1 cup beef or chicken broth
- 1 cup diced green tops of scallions
- For the crust:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
- 1 cup cold butter
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water
- For the filling:
- Add oil to skillet and cook beef and loose sausage until just done.
- Remove and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if necessary then add the onion, bell pepper, celery and scallions and cook until soft about 3 to five minutes.
- Add garlic and cayenne and cook for a minutes.
- Put meat back in, mix, and add flour.
- When well mixed add the broth and simmer to thicken.
- Add chopped green onions.
- For the crust:
- Mix flour & salt in a bowl (or food processor).
- Cut up the butter & cream cheese and add to the flour.
- Work it with a pastry blender or pulse lightly in a food processor until the consistency of coarse meal. The pieces of butter & cream cheese should be visible, so just the minimum pulsing.
- Add the vinegar and enough water to form into a ball that coheres. This seems to vary slightly so keep in mind that you want to end up with a dough ball that you can roll out but it should still have visible chunks of butter and cream cheese.
- Cut in half and make two disks then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour. If you are not using a bottom crust freeze one disk and use later.
- Roll out, lay over pie, pinch edges and cook at 450 for about 15 minutes or until brown.