One of the many things I fell in love with about Nigeria, in the brief time I lived there, was the food.
The stews served with pounded yam, the scorching hot suya (meat strips coated in pepper powder) grilled on a chain-link fence over an open fire, the amazing flavor of truly “free range” chicken, and, of course, the meat pies.
On the street, at the market, even served as the “in flight meal” on the local airlines, there was something about the meat pies that, while still being new, we’re still comfortingly familiar to the venerable pot pies I grew up with…though unarguably better!
These folks know how to cook!
I cheated a bit, using puff pastry instead of making my own pie dough, but if you’ve ever had my pie dough, you’d understand. The puff puff pastry added a delicate, delightful crunch to the dish, but it’s amazing either way.
A little salt and pepper are all you need, spice-wise, in this dish. Let the flavor of the beef and veggies marry, and see what happens!
This recipe will be on the SimplySmartDinnerPlans in a couple of weeks, but I thought I’d post it, as well, so our subscribers can see the play-by-play. Bonus for the rest of ya!
West African Meat Pies
1 small sweet potato, diced and cooked
1/3 lb ground lamb
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup frozen peas & carrots mix
2/3 onion, diced
1/3 cup mixed yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper (Optional)
1/3 tsp each: salt & black pepper
1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
2 sheets puff pastry
2/3 egg, beaten (for brushing exterior of meat pies)
1 tsp. olive oil
Thaw puff pastry until softened, but still firm. Unfold according to package directions (you do not need to roll it out.)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Dice sweet potato in 1/2 cubes and cook in boiling, salted water, 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
Mix all spices, diced bell peppers and diced onion, with ground meat. Brown the meat in 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet until meat is cooked (about 10 minutes). For a “traditional” meat pie, finely dice the habanero or scotch-bonnet pepper, and add it with the bell peppers, above.
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Once ground lamb is cooked and well crumbled, mix in the flour, add the diced cooked sweet potatoes and thawed peas and carrots, and heat for 5 minutes. Add a little hot water to maintain just a tiny bit of “gravy”, if necessary. (You want it moist, but not soupy.)
Taste meat mixture and adjust amount of spices according to taste.
Cut out 6-8 inch circles in your puff pastry (while working with dough, if dough becomes sticky or too soft put in refrigerator for 10 minutes to cool). A small mixing or cereal bowl, with a flat edge, works great for this, or use a small plate as a template, and cut with a very sharp knife.
Place two tablespoons of meat mixture in the center of pastry rounds
Moisten the edges of the dough with water and fold the top half of the dough circle over the filling (into a half circle) and pinch edges together with a fork to seal.
Once all patties are formed, lightly brush the tops with beaten egg. (Initials are optional, lol.)
Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet 35 minutes or until golden brown.
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If you’re wondering what to do with those leftover puff pastry scraps, brush them with egg wash, sprinkle them with a lot of sugar and a little cinnamon…
…and pop ’em in the oven with the pies, for the last ten minutes of cook time (or for 10 minutes after the pies are done.)