In honor of our last cinematic trip to Middle Earth, this week Kitchen Overlord is treating you to one recipe per day from each chapter of An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery.
Second Breakfast is the perfect time for adventuring. Make these sturdy hand pies at night and they’ll hold up great when you sneak over the hedgerows and out into the world beyond the shire the next morning.
Mushroom, Beef & Onion Hand Pies
It’s well known Hobbits love mushrooms. These hearty hand pies are an inexpensive and durable way to bring the best taste of the Shire along on any adventure. Enjoy a couple for a quick Elevenses or save them for supper when the crust can soak up a little mutton gravy.
While Hobbits are well known for enjoying meat as much as they do mushrooms, it’s easy enough to make these vegan in case you’re serving visitors on their own adventure from distant lands.
1 tbsp butter, bacon grease, or cooking oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 pint / 450 g mushrooms, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 1/2 tsp paprika
1/3 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp savory (or rubbed sage)
1 tsp rosemary
1 lb / 450 g ground beef, pork, mutton or a mix (or vegan crumbles)
1 batch short crust pastry dough
To make the filling, melt your fat of choice in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and let them cook for about 5 minutes. You want to sweat out a lot of the moisture. Add the mushrooms and garlic, then cook them for another 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
Toss in the salt, pepper, paprika, fennel, savory, and rosemary. Give it all a good hearty stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
If you’re making vegan pies, you can either stop now for an all vegetable filling or add a pound of frozen vegan crumbles and another tbsp of cooking oil. The crumbles are fully cooked, so you’re literally just warming them though and mixing them with the spices.
If you’re making the meaty version, slide the mushroom mix out of the pan and let it patiently wait its turn in a nearby bowl. Replace it with the ground meat, which you should cook until browned through.
You may want to drain the fat, but don’t. That precious fluid not only helps bind your ingredients together, but also helps preserve the food.
Dump the cooked mushroom mix back in the pan and give it a good stir until everything is well blended. Now turn off the heat and let the filling cool slightly. If you don’t already have a disc of dough in the fridge, this is a good time to make the crust.
Lightly flour your work surface. Break off about ¼ of the short crust pastry dough and roll it out until it’s no less than ¼-⅛ inch / 3-6 mm thick. You really don’t want it any thinner. Remember, these aren’t delicate aristocratic nibbles. These are hearty hand pies meant to survive two days in your knapsack. Give them some backbone.
Use a four inch / 10 cm wide cookie cutter to cut out dough discs. Circles, hexes, or whatever shape you’d like are perfectly fine, so long as you are confident you can seal it closed.
Densely pack about 2 tbsp of filling in the middle of your bottom crust. Go ahead and use your hands. It’s easier. Tightly stretch a second crust on top of it. Use the edge of a fork to crimp the crusts closed. (Or be fancy with your favorite technique. Have fun with it.) Make sure to punch a couple holes in the top for steam to escape.
Arrange your hand pies 1-2 inches / 2.5 -5 cm apart on a well greased cookie sheet.
If you’re not making vegan pies, whisk 1 egg plus 1 tbsp of water together. Use a pastry brush to paint the tops of your hand pies. If you are using the vegan option, paint the top of the crusts with a thin layer of very cold water or a dab of melted coconut oil to give them a little sheen.
Either way, bake them at 375F / 190C for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Try not to eat the entire batch fresh from the oven. You need to save at least a few for adventuring.
Short Crust Pastry Dough
2 ½ c / 240 g flour
⅓ c / 80 ml cold water
½ c / 250 g room temperature butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg for optional egg wash
A hearty short crust pastry is one of the best options for adventurers. The small pies hold up well no matter how many supplies you cram in your pack. That density means you only need a few to fill up. Plus, they’re just plain delicious.
To make the pastry, start by whisking together the flour, sugar and salt. Next add in the room temperature butter. Yes, room temperature. Cold butter makes for a flaky crust, but there were no refrigerators in the Shire. Furthermore, while flaky crusts are delicious, pastries made from them would shed all over your pack. If you want a solid hand pie that can stand up to some abuse without emptying its contents all over your pack, stick with a solid foundation of room temperature butter.
Work the butter into the flour using your fingers until it magically transforms from a greasy lump into a coarse, gravelly meal. Gradually moisten the crumbles with cold water. Use just enough to bind the meal together into a pastry dough. You don’t want it getting too wet and sticky. Knead the dough a few times then pack it into a disc. Store the disc in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Substitute room temperature coconut oil for the butter and add an extra tsp of salt and tbsp of sugar to make up for losing the flavor of the butter.
Need more Hobbity goodness in your life?
Preview even more recipes from An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery, available now!
Sample recipes from all seven chapters of An Unexpected Cookbook:
Breakfast – Poached Pears Stuffed with Frumenty
Second Breakfast – Beef and Mushroom Stuffed Hand Pies
Elevenses – Shire Seed Cake
Luncheon – Stewed Hare with Root Vegetables and Dumplings
Afternoon Tea – Shortbread
Supper – Stuffed Roasted Mushrooms
Dinner – Boxty on the Griddle with Bacon
Need more? Buy your own copy of An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery from Amazon.com.