Bourbon Pecan Hand Pies

The season is starting. The season where you would rather be standing at the first turn cheering your horse, than sitting inside, fork in hand. This weekend is a race and event, anticipated like Christmas and filled with tradition. Every Southerner I know has a menu they serve every year, and their favorite milliner on speed dial. In breaking with tradition, this year, I am servingg hand held derby-like pies. In your left hand a buttery crust, filled with bittersweet chocolate, pecans and bourbon custard, in your right hand a winning ticket. Add a ice cold mint julip for your very own trifecta.

Bourbon Pecan Hand Pies
makes about 10-4″ hand pies
1 recipe pie crust
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
generous pinch kosher salt
3 Tbs bourbon
3 large egg yolks
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup pecans-toasted
about 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Use your favorite pie crust recipe, or purchase already prepared.
Place honey, brown sugar, kosher salt, bourbon and egg yolks in a saucepan. Whisk until well incorporated. Place over low heat and stir continually with a rubber spatula until mixture thickens. Coat the spatula with the mixture and run your finger down the middle of it. If doesn’t run back together, then it is ready. Run through a strainer into a clean bowl. Add butter and stir until incorporated. Stir in pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Roll out your pie crust to about 1/4″ thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out an even number of circles. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Place 1/2 of your rounds on the parchment, approximately 1/2″ apart.Place a tablespoon of chocolate chips in the center of the circle. Top with a generous spoonful of filling. Place a second round of crust on top. Brush with egg yolk and bake in 400F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Pizza Hand Pies

We had spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner last night. Simple but delicious. Lunch today? The sauce with a little cheese and a slice of pepperoni, for good measure. All sandwiched between two hearts of puff pastry.

Heart Pizza
makes 4
2 sheets of puff pastry-cold but not frozen
1/2 cup pasta or pizza sauce
4 pieces of pepperoni
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Use a cookie 3″ heart or other cookie cutter to cut out 8 pieces. Place 1/2 of the pieces on a lined cookie sheet. Heap with pasta sauce, sprinkle with parmesan and place a piece of pepperoni on top. Cover with the remaining pieces of dough. Using the tines of a fork, press around the edges to seal. Place in a 400F oven until golden brown and puffy (about 20 minutes).

Lunch Box Pies

Gone are the days of the tartan plaid lunch pail replete with soup canister, trapped beneath a spring-loaded arm, and monogrammed cloth napkin. So sad. These savory pies, formed and baked in cupcake tins are perfect for lunch box days, picnics at the lake, afternoon snack for a carload of kids, or enjoyed as we are. As a St. Paddy’s day treat with a Guinness chaser.

Lunch Box Pies
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 large onion–finely chopped
2 stalks celery–finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs creole seasoning
a few shakes of Tabasco sauce more or less to taste
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup hot water
1 recipe pie crust

Creole Seasoning
from Emeril’s New Orleans Cooking
2 Tbs chili powder and paprika
1 Tbs ground coriander, garlic powder and salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, black pepper and dried leaf oregano
Mix together and keep in an airtight container

Chop onions and celery and sauté until soft. Lightly cook pork and drain off grease. Add ground beef to pork and cook 5 minutes. Add onions and celery. Cook over low heat for 25 minutes. Drain any grease. Add seasoning, tabasco and salt. Add hot water and bread crumbs and mix well. Let stand 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line muffin tins with pie crust. Fill the crust 3/4 full with filling. Close with top crust. Decorate as desired. Brush with lightly whisked egg yolk. Bake at 400 until pie crust is golden..about 20 minutes. To make shamrock, color some of the egg with green food color and use a paint brush to paint design.