Natchitoches meat pies recipe

I’m not going to lie. It took me several years of living in New Orleans before I could wrap my tongue around the correct pronunciation of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Finally, my fascination for colored hoops as they are depicted in novels (like Lalita Tademy’s Cane River) and texts (like that of Sybil Kein Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color) gave me a reason to learn how to pronounce the name of this place. Say it with me: “NACK-a-tish.”


The annual Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival features both a pie-making contest and a pie-eating contest to celebrate the tasty treat that has become a symbol of the hard-to-pronounce place .


No one knows the origin of Natchitoches meat pie, but it has several international relatives. There are meat-stuffed empanadas in Spain and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, as well as early French references to a savory turnover known as pâté, which is made with game or other meats. It can be paired with English beef, rutabaga and Cornish pasty potatoes or Jamaican meat patty with its curry filling – a traditional island snack.


One year at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, I joined the queue at a meat pie stand and quickly became an instant fan. A street snack eaten in Natchitoches since the late 1700s, it is a flour fried turnover filled with a mixture of beef and pork seasoned with what is simply called the culinary “trinity” in Louisiana: onion, pepper and celery. It can also be flavored with one of the various Cajun spice blends and topped with red pepper flakes or a dash or two of hot sauce.



What’s in a Natchitoches Meat Pie?

All kinds of delicious ingredients! Instead of just one meat, the Natchitoches meat pie features two types of ground meat, beef and pork, which are browned with Cajun spices and then tossed with a little flour. Next is the “holy trinity” of Louisiana cuisine – onion, celery and green pepper – it is cooked with a little garlic until just tender, then tossed into the meat mixture.



How to assemble the Natchitoches meat pies?

This recipe calls for homemade pie crust, which you divide into 16 equal portions before rolling into balls, then into 6-inch circles. Two tablespoons of filling go in the center of each circle of dough, and the perimeter of each is then brushed with a beaten egg. Finally, simply fold over one side of the dough circle to enclose the filling, then use a fork to crimp and seal the edges.



How do you cook Natchitoches meat pies?

This recipe calls for frying chilled meat pies. Fill a Dutch oven with neutral cooking oil to a depth of about 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 370°F. Fry the pies in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the oil temperature, increasing or decreasing the heat as needed to help the pies fry perfectly.

Michael M. Tomlin