There’s something so comforting and satisfying about savory hand pies. They are found in many parts of the globe from India to Mexico to Europe. In the UK pasties are hugely popular and have been for many generations. They secured their place in history by not only being delicious but by also being a portable food. Large crusts could serve as disposable handles for dirty hands- making them ideal for laborers and miners.
The Irish tradition for hand pies varies a bit in the filling, but the concept is similar to Cornish pasties.
To make the process nice and speedy I used pre-made empanada wrappers for baking. These are found in the freezer section usually near Central American foods. Make sure to use the ones for baking, not frying. These are 2 different types of dough.
As an alternative you can use your favorite pie crust recipe as well, just leave out any sugar or spices. Or you can also use thawed frozen pie crust- in sheets for best economy if you can find them.
Using the disks you’ll end up with half moon pies, but if you use pie crust you can make them as squares, rectangles, or even full circles if you really love extra crust.
It’s easy to get into the zone when making these as the process is sort of assembly line in nature. This is also a great activity to do with the family as well.
Make sure to poke a few slits in the top of each hand pie so that the steam doesn’t build up as they bake.
The filling is a simple mix of beef, potatoes, and cabbage. This is what many people would call “plain, good food” and I have to agree. I did add one shallot to this recipe but you can use a bit of chopped onion or leave all onions out. It’s up to you.
For the seasonings you’re looking at salt, pepper, thyme, and some Worcestershire sauce. It’s not fancy but it is full of flavor. The filling actually reminds me of a hearty beef and vegetable stew – but obviously drier.
For a taste of good, old fashioned Irish cooking these hand pies really hit the sport every time!
Irish Hand Pies
Makes 12 pies
25m prep time
52m cook time
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups (1/4 head) shredded green cabbage
- 1 red potato, diced
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup water or broth, plus more for sealing
- 1 (14 oz) package 5” empanada baking disks
- Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add cabbage, potatoes, and shallot. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add beef a clean stockpot and cook until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add potato mixture to pan along with tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt, pepper, and water or broth. Cook until moisture is evaporated, mashing mixture lightly as it cooks. Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 390˚F. Lay down disks on lined baking sheet or use palm of hand to hold each disk as you fill. Place a couple spoonfuls of beef filling in the center of each disk. Do not overfill.
- Using finger spread water along the edge of each circle. Fold dough disk in half and press down on edge to seal. Crimp with back of fork to fully seal.
- Use a sharp knife to poke 3 slits in the top of each pie, making sure not to pierce the bottom layer of dough.
- Bake for 20-26 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.