Since Thanksgiving, we’ve casually gone through about 10 pounds of butter at our house.
There was cranberry curd, the unfathomable amount of pâté I made for a new year’s party, at least two pies, one batch of cookies, and a few cakes. I know January is supposed to be the month where you refuse all indulgences, but I have had hand pies on the brain for some time now.
So more butter, here I come. The key to a good hand pie is a flaky crust that can hold up to a few bites and not crumble. And also a flavorful filling that contrasts the buttery dough. Oh, and the pies should be full without bulging or ripping open, so you get both the crust and the filling in every bite. Got all that?
While nothing in this recipe is difficult to do, it does take some time. You’ll make the dough, cook the filling, roll out and cut the dough, stuff them and seal them and then finally bake the pies. The hardest part is letting them cool slightly before you grab them and bite, but the good news is that it’s totally worth it, and if you have a bit of time and patience, you’ll succeed.
Once cool enough to pick up, these hand pies offer up a perfect bite. Imagine a good version of a Hot Pocket—not smothered with fake cheese and all an even, comfortable temperature (how do Hot Pockets manage to heat up where one bite scorches your mouth while the next one is 90% frozen? At least they did back in 1993).
Another bonus: these are totally legit room at room temperature, so they would also make a great party snack—they look beautiful and can sit out for people to munch on. Okay, enough singing the praises of a quality hand pie, just make them.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup ice water
- 6 ounces pancetta, chopped into ¼ - ½ inch cubes
- 2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
- 6 oz baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 egg, whisked
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and cheese. Add butter and using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until small, pea-sized clumps form. Add water, 2 tablespoons at a time and work into flour until dough forms. Use only as much water as needed for dough to form together.
- Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you make filling.
- In a large skillet, cook pancetta over medium-high heat until fat renders and pancetta starts to get crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a paper towel lined paper to drain. Add leeks to pan with pancetta drippings and cook until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach and sage and cook until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir to coat. Add in broth and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pancetta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out rough to about ¼ - ½ inch thick. Using a small bowl or cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles about 4½ inches in diameter. You may need to re-roll scraps to get all the circles.
- Place six of the circles on a baking sheet. Scoop about ¼ cup of spinach and pancetta filling into the center of each circle, staying about ½ an inch away from the edges.
- Using your finger or a small pastry brush, brush the edges of the circles with egg wash. Place remaining six circles on top and pinch edges shut. Optionally, use a fork to crimp the edges shut.
- Brush tops of hand pies with remaining egg wash, then cut small slits in the tops of each pie. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until pies are golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.