Monday, March 14, 2011

Beef, cabbage & potato hand pies


Happy Pi Day, math fanatics everywhere! :)  It seems like just yesterday that I first celebrated Pi Day in the 6th grade.  Through junior high and even high school, our math teachers were incredibly enthusiastic about this little holiday and planned a full day's worth of activities for students to enjoy.  The halls were lined with 100 yards of continuous computer paper (you know, the stuff for ancient dot matrix printers) with the number pi taken out to as many decimal places as necessary.  A surprising number of people sported Pi Day shirts -- I still have my green one, in fact.  And, for one day, even an advanced calculus class had a party and noshed on Hostess Fruit Pies -- yum!  Did your school celebrate Pi Day?  Do you still celebrate it?

So, from one pi to another (pie), it's time to share with you the winner of the St. Patrick's Day Irish recipe vote-off: beef hand pies!  Thank goodness, because it would be sacrilege not to have some sort of pie on a day like today.  And, with my no sweets Lenten promise, family favorites like this are officially banned.  (That doesn't mean you can't indulge, so please be my guest!)  I didn't think it were possible for a savory pie to live up to its sweet counterpart's excellence, but I happily stand corrected.

This is one of those recipes that was simply fun to make.  An excuse to play with your food Very hands-on and made the whole apartment smell like soul-warming beef stew!  The list of ingredients is short with no surprises and makes for a relatively balanced meal.  As I predicted/hoped, these turned out to be the love child of beef stew and pot pie -- satisfying, comfort food at its very best.  

It may seem like a daunting recipe, but I promise that it's just a few simple steps.  Start by cooking the cabbage and potatoes.  Add beef and remaining ingredients and brown, cool, and assemble individual pies:

Fold into neat little pockets of beefy goodness.  Bake until golden and enjoy!

Holy cow (pun not intended but, on second thought, appreciated)!  The first thing you taste is the buttery and flaky crust.  Once you bite into the pie, you're met by a welcoming committee of hearty beef, cabbage and fluffy potatoes in a sweet tomato base.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine definitely is.  And I am so looking forward to dinner tonight.  It's gotta be a good one since the gym reopens this week, and I know I'm going to be hungry enough to eat two or three of these.  Good thing I made the whole batch :)  Hooray for pie for dinner!

Irish Beef Hand Pies
(adapted from Everyday Food)
-makes 8

A few notes: For those of you who voted for lamb stew, my apologies.  It's still on my list, so in the coming weeks, hopefully I'll get to make it.  In the meantime, try substituting ground lamb for the beef in this recipe to satisfy your hankering for lamb.  Also, these pies are stuffed to the seams with beef filling, but I used up eht entire batch... just make sure to really roll the pie crust out to directed size.  Finally, since this recipe made eight pies, I assembled all and cooked four and froze the other four for later enjoyment on a particularly lazy day.  Go ahead and make the whole batch -- you'll be thankful you did!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 pound ground beef sirloin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Coarse salt and ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for rolling
2 pie crusts (9 inches each), homemade or store-bought

Preheat oven to 400 F.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium; add cabbage and potatoes.  Cook until beginning to brown, 7 to 9 minutes.  Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire, thyme, and 1 cup water.  Cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and lightly mash mixture with a fork.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cool completely.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll each crust into a 14-inch square; cut each into 4 equal squares.  Place 1/2 cup filling on one half of each square, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the filling.  Brush borders with water; fold dough over filling to enclose.  Crimp edges with a fork to seal.  With a paring knife or scissors, cut three small vents in each.

Transfer pies to 2 foil-lined rimmed baking sheets; bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Enjoy!

To Freeze: Prepare through step 2. Arrange unbaked pies on a baking sheet (they should not touch); freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Wrap each pie in foil. Place in a resealable plastic bag; freeze up to 2 months.

To Bake from Frozen: Proceed with step 3, increasing baking time to 28 to 30 minutes.


  1. I can't remember if my school celebrated Pi Day but I do remember celebrating Mole Day.

  2. To make it even easier, you could prepare the filling but use the premade Goya disks, (in the freezer section) and make them turnover style.

  3. I can't believe I've never even heard of these. Have you used them before? I've gotta look for them the next time I'm in the grocery store. Any tips on what the packaging looks like? Thanks! :)