Food & Drink

Natchitoches Meat Pies

Hearty handheld bites that have become a Louisiana tradition


The savory hand pies from Natchitoches (That’s “NACK-
A-TUSH”), Louisiana—perhaps best known as the setting for the movie Steel Magnolias—are not unlike the empanadas of Spain and Latin America. Filled with ground beef sautéed with the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cuisine—bell pepper, onion, and celery—they’re one of Louisiana’s official state foods. The hearty pies are typically deep-fried, but here we’ve taken a cue from Louisiana chef John Folse of Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, who bakes his version for a more flaky pie-like crust. If you’d rather fry your meat pies, pour about 2 inches of peanut oil in a Dutch oven, heat it to 360 ̊F, then drop the pies in two or three at a time and fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side.


  • For the Filling

    • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

    • 8 ounces ground sirloin

    • 8 ounces ground pork

    • 1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper

    • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion

    • 1/3 cup finely diced celery

    • 2 garlic cloves, minced

    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    • Pinch of cayenne pepper

    • 1 bay leaf

    • 1 cup beef stock

    • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

    • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

  • For the Pastry

    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    • 1/2 cup cold lard or 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

    • 1 large egg

    • 1/3 cup ice water

    • 2 teaspoons distilled vinegar

    • 1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water for the egg wash



    For the filling: Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the sirloin and pork and cook, breaking up the chunks with the back of a spoon, for about 10 minutes, until browned and all the moisture has evaporated.

  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic; sauté for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the salt, pepper, cayenne, and bay leaf. In a measuring cup, whisk the Worcestershire sauce into the stock. Pour half of the stock mixture into the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of pan and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated (3 to 4 minutes). Whisk the flour into the remaining beef stock mixture, stir it into the meat, and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the meat to a bowl to cool while you prepare the pastry.

  3. For the pastry: Pulse the flour, salt, and baking powder together in the bowl of a food processor a few times to combine. Scatter small spoonfuls of lard or pieces of butter into the dry ingredients and pulse again until the mixture comes together into pea-size bits. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, ice water, and vinegar, add it to the flour mixture, and pulse just until it forms a shaggy dough. Transfer the dough to a square of plastic wrap and knead a few times. Form the dough into a disk, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

  4. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 12 equal portions. Roll each into rounds about 6 inches in diameter and 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch thick.

  5. To assemble and bake the meat pies:  Preheat the oven to 400 ̊ F. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the cooled meat mixture in the bottom half of each dough round. Dip a finger into the egg wash and trace around the edges of the dough circle to coat. Fold the dough in half over the meat and press to seal the edges. Crimp by pinching with your fingers or using the tines of a fork. Cut two or three slits in the top of each pie, brush with the remaining egg wash, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and aky. Cool slightly and serve warm.

  6. Tip: These pies can be assembled and frozen before baking. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 3 to 5 hours, until frozen solid, then place them in freezer bags. Pull out as many as you need when you have a hankering; thaw them in the refrigerator for an hour or two before baking.

Recipe from Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Cookbook