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How to Make Meat Pies or English Pasties

I am a Nigerian native who loves sharing traditional and nontraditional recipes with everyone!

Photos by property of ComfortB. All rights reserved.

Photos by property of ComfortB. All rights reserved.

English meat pies are beloved all over the world! Meat pies (a.k.a. English pasties, or beef patties), are meat-filled turnovers. This tasty treat is said to originate from Cornwall, England. Here in the U.S., Pasties are a type of pastry/meal that is very popular in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was introduced years ago by the Cornish, who settled in America, and was a favorite lunch box companion for those who worked away from home.

In Nigeria, and among Nigerians in diaspora, meat pies (pasties) are a favorite at parties, and always the party take-away (take-out) meal of choice. Meat pie is also a popular treat with Jamaicans, among whom the name "beef pattie" has been coined for the tasty pastry. But, beware, when you bite into a Jamaican beef pattie, the spicy peppers inside will bite you right back.

Though this popular and tasty pastry may have a different name from one culture to another, there are some things they all have in common. They all have lots of wholesome veggies and meats on the inside, and a flaky pastry crust on the outside.

Overview of How to Make a Meat Pie

Making a meat pie is done in two stages. You prepare the pie crust, and then the meat filling (not necessarily in that exact order, as the meat filling can be done first before the crust). Once the crust and the meat fillings are ready, you start filling, sealing, and glazing the pie crust before placing it in the oven to bake.

Although the preparation time is a little lengthy, having a whole meal that fits inside a pastry makes it all worth it. Plus, it's a very tasty and enjoyable meal. Let's go ahead and start making this very tasty treat.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour 15 min

40 min

1 hour 55 min

12 servings

Ingredients for Meat Pie's Filling

  • 1¼ cups peeled potatoes, diced
  • 1¼ cup carrots, diced
  • ½ medium onions
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper or one finely chopped fresh hot Jamaican pepper (optional)
  • 1½ pound ground beef, turkey, or chicken
  • ½ teaspoon Curry, (powder or flakes) optional
  • ½ teaspoon Thyme, (powder or Flakes) optional
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Vegetarian and Pescatarian Filling Alternatives

The good thing about this recipe is that you can use any combination of meat or veggie filling of your choice. You can substitute turkey or chicken breast for the red meats. But, if you are a vegan, don't be intimidated by these meat suggestions. You can choose to have your pie with an all vegetable and carbohydrate filling. You can even use fish or shrimp for a pescatarian option. Yes, you can!

Vegan alternatives:

  • A mix of shredded carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and onions.
  • A mix of brown rice, beans, carrots, onions, and nuts
  • A mix of tofu, carrots, etc.

Fish alternatives:

  • Your choice of salmon, whiting, or tilapia fillets. These generate less fish fat/oil during baking and, therefore, it won't break out of the crust.
  • All of these fish work well when briefly sautéed with garlic, salt, onion, carrots, and potatoes. Let the ingredients cool before filling the pastry.
Everything you need. Plus salt and pepper for seasoning the meat.

Everything you need. Plus salt and pepper for seasoning the meat.

Directions for Making a Meat Pie's Fillings

  1. In a large wok, combine the potatoes, carrots, onion, salt and pepper. Set on stove at medium heat.
  2. Stir in beef, and butter (If using the Curry and Thyme, and other seasonings, you can stir in with the meats).
  3. Sauté veggies and meat mixture briefly on medium to high heat.
  4. Let cook for about five minutes. This brief cooking is done to ensure that meats are cooked properly through the duration of baking the pastry.
  5. Set the mixture aside to cool.
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Pastry Ingredients & Preparation

Now that our filling has been sautéed and has been set aside to cool, let's get the pie crust ready. However, if you desire to deviate from this recipe and would rather use the recipe simply as inspiration, then there are a few things to keep in mind before we start the pastry.

A note before we start making the pastry: Some people do not like to cook or sauté meat and veggies before filling the pastry. That's okay. Just make sure you add extra time to the overall baking duration. For a raw meat filling, set the oven to about 375 degrees F and let it bake for about 45–55 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown. You can always alter a few things here and there. Now, let's start our pastries!

Ingredients for meat pie pastries include:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour ( you can also use self-rising flour. In which case you will omit the salt and baking powder in this ingredient list)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup shortening, or 1½ to 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup warm water or milk
  • 1 tablespoon milk, (optional, for glazing)
  • 1 small egg. Egg white will be used for glazing pie crust.

Low Sodium Pastry Mix

I sometimes use a combination of both all-purpose flour and self-rising flour for a low sodium recipe. That's 2 cups of each. The unsalted butter option also helps.

Directions for Making Meat Pie Pastry

  1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening/butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Gradually add water/milk, tossing with a fork, or working it with your fingers until it forms a ball when molded between the palm.
  3. Divide dough into twelve portions; roll each into about 5 in. circle (around).
  4. For each dough circle, place as much of the filling as you can fit into the center of each circle.
  5. Fold pastry over filling and seal edges tightly with a fork (you may need to dust fork with some flour, or dip each time in some water to prevent it from sticking).
  6. Poke the top of each filled and sealed pie with the fork to make some holes. For a glazed effect, brush top of each sealed pie with some egg and milk mixture.
  7. Lay pies out on a greased and floured baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30–35 minutes or until golden brown.

You should be able to get about a dozen or more of these tasty goodies.

Storing or Re-Using Your Left-Over Pie Filling

Freezing Pie for Future Baking: After the pie has been prepared with fillings and glazed with eggs, it is okay to store them in the freezer to be baked for later. Pies should be stored in an air-tight plastic container layered, with parchment paper under every layer. This can be stored for up to a month until you're ready to bake it.

Storing Left-Over Filling: Any leftover filling should be stored in the freezer using freezer bags or plastic containers/wraps. Use fillings within a week of storage. You can use them in any casserole or soup mix.

Re-Using Left-Over Filling: A great way to reuse it as a breakfast burrito's filling.

Here's what to do:

  • Scramble some eggs.
  • Mix in the leftover filling. Stir together in pan.
  • Heat up a/some floor tortillas wrap.
  • Spread the inside of the heated tortillas with cream cheese. You can even spice it up with a layer of mild or hot salsa.
  • Top with the eggs and left-over fillings.
  • Wrap and enjoy a hearty breakfast of eggs, meat, and veggies.

Your Signature Meat Pie—Make It Your Way!

When it comes to making these pies, feel free to experiment! I often add a teaspoon of curry powder, and half a teaspoon of thyme to give it that taste of Africa. Meat Pies can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Just re-warm in a toaster or regular oven when ready to eat. You can also use a microwave to warm, though it may alter the texture of the pastry.

How Would You Rate This Pie?

The History of Pies

© 2012 Comfort Babatola

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