Hunter’s Pork Pocket Pies

If you’re at all superstitious, turn luck in your favor with this delicious twist on a time-honored pork recipe. The rich, fatty nature of pork has come to symbolize wealth and prosperity and is thought to be lucky when eaten at the start of the New Year. We’re also honoring family heritage with a variation on the traditional tourtiere, a hearty meat pie served by families of French Canadian ancestry, like Eliot Orton’s wife, Julie’s.

Julie makes an authentic tourtiere – just meat, no vegetables – yet assures us that everyone has his or her own version. Some are made with pork, others with a combination of pork and beef with vegetables. Here, we add a few spices and turn our recipe into a pocket pie, the ideal lunch for hunters spending a long day perched in a deer blind, or for a family tailgating at a football game.

Although this does not take much time, it is a fairly involved process, so we suggest you make several batches and keep them in your freezer, ready for times when you are on the go. Reheat frozen pies in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes.

 

Ingredients

Dough

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon table salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 egg yolk

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

 

Filling

2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter

1 ½ pounds ground pork

2 large onions, finely chopped (2 cupls)

1 clove garlic, minced (1/2 teaspoon)

½ teaspoon celery seeds

½ cup chicken stock

½ teaspoon talbe salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon dried sage

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Flour, for dusting

Whole milk or 1 egg yolk, beaten for brushing

Coarse salt, for sprinkling

 

Cooking Instructions

Make the Dough: In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the flour and table salt together. Drop in the butter one piece at a time, pulsing after each addition, until it is fully incorporated and the mixture is like coarse cornmeal or sand. With the motor running, add the egg yolk, then add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and begins to come together. Pat the dough into a flat disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Make the Filling: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the meat loses its red color. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 32 minutes. Add the celery seeds, chicken stock, table salt, pepper, and sage. Cover the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside to cool.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half to make it easier to work with. One half at a time, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Use an inverted bowl to measure a 5-inch circle (if your bowl’s a little bigger or smaller, it doesn’t matter), tracing the circle with a paring knife in the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the dough has been used up. This may require that you combine dough pieces and reroll, keeping the surface floured. Try not to overhandle the dough or it may become tough.

Place ¼ cup of the filling onto half of a dough circle, wet the edges of the dough with water, fold over, and seal with the tines of a fork. Slash three small vents in the top of the pocket and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat to fill all the dough circles. Refrigerate the pockets for 30 minutes (or freeze uncooked; when frozen, place in plastic bags until ready to bake).

Preheat the oven to 375°degrees F.

Brush the tops of the pockets with milk or yolk and sprinkle coarse salt over the tops. Bake for 29 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the cooking time, until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Makes eight 5-inch half-moon pies

 

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