Instead of making corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day this year, I decided to do something a little different: Irish beef hand pies. These diminutive pies are chock-full of meat and veggies, wrapped inside a flaky pie crust.
Some of the comments on the recipe I used suggested that the filling wasn't flavorful enough, so I did my best to "beef" it up! The filling called for ground sirloin, cabbage, potatoes, and a few seasonings. Because Jeff doesn't like cabbage, I just sauteed some for myself to eat on the side. And I put carrots and onions in the filling instead. I also added a couple extra splashes of Worcestershire sauce at the end, just to make sure there was plenty of flavor.
And while the recipe suggests using store-bought pie crusts, I made my favorite pie dough recipe instead. It's incredibly easy (and inexpensive) to make your own. In order to accommodate all of the filling, I actually should have doubled the pie dough. But I enjoyed eating the leftover filling stirred up with some leftover cabbage. The pies can be made just by cutting squares of dough, filling them, and folding them in half, but I couldn't pass up the chance to use my Williams-Sonoma Pocket Pie Mold.
I loved the way these came out and am so happy we have leftovers in the freezer. I do wish I had followed my instincts and brushed them with an egg wash before baking though, as the crust looks kind of pale. And I would love some suggestions for a good serving sauce or gravy. I would have dipped them in Ketchup, but we were all out.
Irish Beef Hand Pies (adapted from Everyday Food, March 2009)
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 baby carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1/4 cup diced onion
Salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef sirloin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (plus more for splashing, if desired)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup water
2 pie crusts or flaky pie dough
Egg wash (optional)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, potatoes, and onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until they start to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the ground sirloin, and cook until no longer pink, 6 to 7 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and water.
Cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to keep potatoes from sticking.
Lightly mash mixture with a fork.
Season to taste with salt and pepper (and add a couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce if desired), and let cool completely.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil. (You can bake both sheets of pies or transfer one sheet to the freezer.)
Lightly flour your countertop, and roll the dough out thinly. Use the pocket pie mold to cut tops and bottoms for the pies. You should be able to make 6 or 7 pies with one batch of dough (re-roll the scraps).
Place a pie bottom in the mold and fill it with filling.
Wet the edges with water, place another cutout on top, close the mold, and seal the pie. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have used all the dough.
(If making squares, roll each pie crust to a 14-inch square, and cut each into 4 even squares. Place filling on one half, wet the edges with water, and fold the dough over. Seal and crimp with a fork.)
Cut three slits in the top of each pie for ventilation. (At this point, place any pies you're not baking in the freezer. Let them firm up for 1 hour, and then wrap them individually in foil, and place them in a freezer bag. You can bake these from frozen the same way, just bake them for 28 to 30 minutes instead.)
Brush with an egg wash if desired.
Bake pies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
What would you serve these with?