Natchitoches Meat Pies

Natchitoches, Louisiana, is the home of these famous pies, which have been popular there since before the Civil War. Street vendors would hawk them calling, "Hotta meat pies! Get your hotta meat pies right here!"

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
Pastry
Vegetable oil

Combine meats in a heavy skillet; brown over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles. Remove from skillet; drain, reserving drippings in skillet. Set aside. Sauté onion and next 3 ingredients in skillet until tender. Return meat to skillet; stir in flour and seasonings. Set aside.

Divide pastry into 4 portions. Roll out one portion to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut 5 circles using a 6-inch saucer as a guide and re-rolling dough if necessary. Spoon about 1/4 cup meat mixture on one half of each dough circle. Moisten edges with water. Fold dough over meat mixture, pressing edges to seal. Crimp edges with a fork. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions and meat mixture.

Pour oil to a depth of 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375 degrees F. Fry about 4 pies at a time until browned, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. Makes 20 pies.

Pastry
8 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 cups milk

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine eggs and milk. Gradually add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape into a ball (pastry will be stiff).

NOTE: Pies may be frozen before cooking. Place pies in a single layer on baking sheets; cover and freeze. Transfer from baking sheets to zip-top heavy-duty plastic bags, and return to freezer.

To serve, thaw pies overnight in refrigerator, and fry as directed above.

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