I love hand-held savory pies. And I especially crave them when stuffed with spicy crawfish filling and baked golden brown to crispy perfection in a puff pastry crust. These Crawfish Hand Pies are what I call “perfect pies” with a spike of heat, full of flavor, and the elegance of buttery, flaky pastry.
Hand pies are loved worldwide. Whether it’s an English pasty, an Italian calzone, a Latin American empanada, an Asian samosa, or just a plain American turnover, hand pies are a popular dish. Size, filling, and dough come in many variations, but each has cultural significance and a beloved culinary heritage.
Down South in Cajun country, we know a thing or two about hand pies. The sugary kind–sweet dough pies—are a cultural tradition with recipes handed down through generations. And the savory kind—the Natchitoches meat pie—has become world famous. But in between those two extreme examples are endless variations that pop up in Cajun and Creole home kitchens; every family has their favorite. And my family favorite are Crawfish Hand Pies.
Most of the savory hand pies I’ve sampled are made with traditional piecrust and features an outer shell surrounding a filling of some sort. Sausage, ground meat (beef, pork, or chicken), and even boudin have been stuffed inside a hand pie. But with my recipe for Crawfish Hand Pies, I intend to outshine them all with a buttery crawfish filling based on a thickened étouffée recipe.
And to keep things simple, I’m using store-bought pastry—puff pastry to be exact. You see, most hand pies are deep-fat fried piecrust dough that has structure and is sturdy enough to be sold commercially. My Crawfish Hand Pies recipe using puff pastry is much more delicate and forgoes the fryer for an ultra-crispy golden brown finish in the oven.
Whether you serve these pastries by the basketful or as an elegant entrée alongside a green salad, give these Crawfish Hand Pies a try and see how easy and elegant this dish can be.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- 2 tablespoons diced green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons diced celery
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup seafood stock
- 1 pound Louisiana crawfish tail meat
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of hot sauce
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 package (2 sheets) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheets, thawed to room temperature
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Kosher salt
- In a large cast-iron pot or skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery, and sauté until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, lower the heat to simmer, and stir to combine. Sprinkle ½ cup of the flour over the mixture, stir to incorporate, and cook the flour until it turns light brown, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, and stir until you reach a stew-like thickness.
- Add the crawfish tail meat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the paprika, Cajun seasoning, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. At this point, you want to thicken the mixture until it achieves the texture of a filling or stuffing by gradually stirring in the remaining flour. Bring the mixture back to a simmer and turn off the heat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- On a large countertop surface (granite or marble works well), sprinkle lightly with bench flour. Unwrap and lay out one of the puff pastry sheets. Unfold and sprinkle with more of the flour. Using a rolling pin, roll until it spreads out and expands to a thickness of ¼ inch. Using a 5-inch-diameter circle as a guide, cut around the dough with a sharp knife. You should get 4 of these circles out of one sheet of dough. Do the same with the second dough sheet.
- Using a one-tablespoon measuring cup, add about 2 tablespoons of the crawfish filling to the center of a circle. Brush along the edge of the inside of the dough and fold over the dough to form a half-moon shape. Using the tines of a fork (or a pastry wheel), crimp the edges tightly to seal in the filling. Place the hand pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with all the pies.
- At this point, you can refrigerate the pies until ready to bake. Just before baking, brush the top of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve in a basket as an appetizer or two of the hand pies as an entrée along with a side salad.
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