Rohnert Park Meat Pie Polooza

Do you get tired of hearing that everything “tastes like chicken?”

My Rohnet Park hosts and I decided to put that theory to an unscientific but incredibly tasty test! They took  me to an amazing local butcher specializing in exotic meats where we were able to pick up one pound each of ground elk, goat, bison, veal, and beef (as a control). Okay, technically veal is just baby cows, but we were genuinely interested in whether people could taste the difference once you grind it up.

We decided to make five types of meat pies with different markings on top then have a little party to see if people could tell the difference.

I still wanted these to be tasty, so I made one large batch of seasoning mix, then divided it into five equal sized portions.

After that, I browned up 1 pound of meat at a time, each with identical seasonings, and set it aside with a post-it note so I could tell them apart. The skillet got a quick scrub and then in went the next batch.  Everything was seasoned the same way and cooked the same way, down to the same pan. The only difference was the meat itself.

The party game of the night was guessing what type of meat was in each pie.

If you have an exotic meat shop around or have friends who hunt, this is a really affordable and fun way to introduce people to meats other than beef, pork, and chicken. The ground options are a lot cheaper than a filet or roast, and wrapping it up in a friendly pastry turns the whole experiment into a fun and harmless way to try something new for people who love meat but get squeamish when reminded that their dinner was alive last week.

This recipe makes about 50 meat pies.

Want to make it an extra special mini-pie night? Try making the Bone Marrow Mini Cheesecakes from the middle of the photo!

Pastry Crust Ingredients

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 cup (ish) ice cold water

Pastry Crust Directions

  • In the spirit of efficiency, make the dough before cooking the meat. This gives the dough a chance to rest before you transform it into tasty hand pies.
  • To make the pastry, start by mixing your flour, sugar and salt. Now add in the room temperature butter. Work it into the flour using your fingers until it magically transforms from a greasy lump into a coarse, gravelly meal. Finally, add the cold water, ¼ cup at a time. That should be just enough to bind the meal together into a pastry dough. You want this to be firm, not sticky.
  • Knead it a few times then pack it into a disc. Let the dough rest for at least half an hour before using.

Meat Pie Ingredients

  • 1 lb each of assorted meats:
    Elk, Goat, Bison, Veal, Beef (or whatever is locally available)
  • 5 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 2/3 cups caramelized onions

    Meat Seasoning Mix

  • 1 large head garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 7 tsp worcestershire sauce

Meat Pie Filling Directions

  • Thoroughly combine everything in the Meat Seasoning mix, then divide into 5 equal parts.
  • Add 1 tbsp of canola oil to a skillet. Add your 1lb of meat and your ⅕ of the seasoning mix and cook until the meat is completely browned and fragrant.
  • When only cooking 1 lb of meat this goes a lot faster than you think. It’s a great lesson in why you shouldn’t overcrowd your pan. It was faster for me to make 5 pounds of meat, 1 pound at a time, than it would’ve been to try shoving 3+ pounds of meat into a single skillet.
  • When the meat is completely cooked, add ⅓ cup of caramalized onions and mix well.  
  • Mark your meat with a post-it note so you’ll remember what meat is in what bowl. Cover with foil to keep warm and move on to your next mystery meat.

Assembly Directions

  • Pick five achievable shapes. I went for a potsticker style shape with the dough sealed on top, two types baked in cupcake pans (one with an X on top, the other with a circle), and two empanada shapes (one with a slit across the middle, the other with small slits cut into a hexagon.) It really doesn’t matter what you pick as long as it’s a shape you can easily recreate. Make yourself a key and hide it from anyone who’ll be sampling the mystery pies later.
  • Divide the dough into 5 equal portions.
  • Roll the first portion out to inch thick. Use a 4 inch round cookie cutter to punch out shapes.
  • Fill each meat pie with 2 tbsp of filling and pinch closed using your secret key.
  • When all the meat pies are complete, whisk an egg with 1 tsp of water. Use a pastry brush to paint the egg glaze over the meat pies so they’ll be nice and shiny when they finish baking. If you’d like, you can sprinkle the pies lightly with some flake salt for a bit of extra flavor.
  • Bake your meat pies in a preheated 375F oven for 35-45 minutes, or until all the pies are golden brown and bubbly near the air vents.

NOTE: Depending on how tightly you pack your meat pies you may wind up with extra meat. I recommend you put it into clearly labeled plastic bags and save it in the freezer for future tacos.

REHEATING: Leftover meat pies freeze incredibly well! To reheat, simply put the frozen pies on a baking sheet and heat at 375F for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and once more crispy on the outside. If you microwave them the crust will get tough and and chewy instead of flaky and crisp.

Jammy Caramelized Onions

  • 5 lbs yellow onions, peeled & sliced thinly
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp worcestershire (optional)

Caramalized Onions Directions

  • Put everything  in a crockpot for 10-12 hours on low. To make them jammy, prop the lid open a bit and continue cooking on low for another 2-4 hours.
  • It will seem impossibly packed when you first load up the crockpot, but when you’re done it’ll reduce down to about 2 cups of dense, jammy, flavorful onions.
  • To preserve these, put ¼ cup of cooled onions into a plastic bag and gently press out all the air. Grab a chopstick and press it along the middle, then do it again in the other direction so your onions are divided into 4 equal segments. Freeze it like that. When you need some onions in the future, just snap the bag and you can take out 1 tbsp of onions at a time – just enough for a a tasty sandwich topping.