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Nigerian Meat Pies From Scratch


A plate of homemade Nigerian savory meat pies that take inspiration from traditional recipes

These Nigerian meat pies are flaky, flavorful, and fit in the palm of your hand – perfect for taking on the go, or handing out at the next potluck! 


Unlike other meat pies you might be familiar with, Nigerian meat pies boast a rich blend of spices and herbs, giving them a unique and vibrant flavor.


This recipe skips the eggs commonly used in Nigerian pastries, opting for a shortcrust pastry made with cold water and butter to ensure maximum flakiness. Both the filling and the dough can be prepped a day ahead, making these pies perfect for quick assembly and serving to hungry guests. 


For a fun twist, you can make 'cheeseburger meat pies' by adding a slice of American cheese to the filling before baking. Trust me, they won't last long once they're out of the oven!


A Little History...


These savory pies are a beloved street snack and homemade delight in Nigeria and across West Africa. 


Nigerian meat pies trace their origins back to British colonial influences, but while they resemble Cornish pasties and Jamaican beef patties in appearance, they differ in preparation and ingredients. 


Unlike Cornish pasties, which use uncooked fillings and a hot water crust, Nigerian meat pies use a cooked filling and a cold water shortcrust. Additionally, suet in Jamaican patties and lard in Cornish pasties are typical, but these Nigerian pies use butter so they can be made anywhere in the world with what’s available to you.


 

Dough:

3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar 

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons Kosher salt or 1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen 

1 cup ice cold water


Filling:

1 small onion or 1/2 large onion 

Olive oil for cooking 

3 green onions

1 tablespoon garlic ginger paste (see Notes)

1 habanero chili 

Salt to taste 

1 pound ground beef or 50% ground beef & 50% ground lamb (see Notes) 

1/2 pound gold potatoes 

Black pepper to taste 

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) or water


Topping:

1 egg


To make the dough:

Tip: For best results, freeze your butter at least 4 hours prior to cooking. 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

  2. Partially unwrap the butter block so you can hold it by the wrapper, then use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter. Holding it by the wrapper will reduce how quickly it melts from warm hands. 

  3. Add grated butter to the dry ingredients, then toss with your fingertips to make sure the butter pieces are separated, well distributed, and each piece is coated with flour. 

  4. Slowly pour in ice water a little at a time, and use your dominant hand to mix everything together. While pouring and mixing, target any large dry patches. Once all the water has been added, knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes or until most of the remaining dry flour has come away from the sides of the bowl and a shaggy ball has formed. 

  5. Turn the dough onto a clean surface, and knead until there are no dry patches and the dough comes together, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

  6. Shape the dough into a rectangle, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.


To make the filling:

  1. Finely dice the onion. Heat a wide skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat. When ready, generously coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil, then add the onion. 

  2. Thinly slice the green onions, saving the dark green tops for later. Finely dice the habanero, removing the seeds for a milder flavor. 

  3. Add the habanero, green onion whites, and garlic ginger paste to the pan, stirring well to combine. 

  4. Lightly season the veggies with a small pinch of salt, then add the ground meat, using the cooking spoon to break it into small pieces.

  1. While the meat browns, peel the potatoes and chop into two or three fingers, then slice the fingers to create thin rectangles that are roughly 1/13 inch thick (or 2 millimeters) so they cook quickly. 

  2. When all the water from the ground meat has cooked off, but there is still a little oil in the bottom of the pan, season the mixture with salt and black pepper. Add curry powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and dried thyme, and mix everything to combine. Allow a fond to develop on the bottom of the pan as you stir. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as needed. 

  3. Use broth to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the browned fond. 

  4. Add the sliced potatoes, stir well to combine everything, and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and have absorbed most of the liquid. 

  5. Remove the lid, turn off the heat, and add the sliced green parts of the green onions. 


To assemble the pies: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and prepare your baking tray by lightly greasing it with oil or lining it with parchment paper.

  2. In a small bowl, beat an egg until smooth and set aside. This will be used for sealing and glazing the pies.

  3. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. 

  4. Use a small bowl or circular cookie cutter as the stencil for your pies. Place the stencil 1/2 inch from one edge of the dough and trace around it with a knife. Remove the bowl to reveal the pie pastry, and repeat this step until there is no more dough. 

  5. Use a soup spoon to place 1 to 2 spoonfuls of the filling onto the center of the pie dough circles. The amount should be enough to fill the pie without causing it to overflow when folded. 

  6. Push the filling slightly to one side, then brush the inside edges of the dough circle with beaten egg to help seal the pie. Fold the dough over the filling to create a semicircle, and use your fingertips to seal the edges. 

  7. Pinch the edges of the dough with your fingertips and fold over the open edge so it is tucked in, creating a pleated pattern. Press firmly to ensure a good seal. Repeat until there is no more filling, and place each of the folded and sealed pies onto the prepared baking tray, no closer than 1 inch apart. 

  8. Prick the top of each pie with a fork to allow steam to escape during baking, preventing soggy pies.

  9. Use a pastry brush to brush beaten egg onto the surface of the pies. 

  10. Place the tray on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake pies for 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Turning the baking tray halfway through will ensure even browning. Baking times may vary depending on your oven, so keep an eye on them to avoid overbaking.

  11. Once golden brown, remove the pies from the oven and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Notes: 

  • How to make garlic ginger paste: Combine equal parts chopped ginger and chopped garlic, and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

  • An 85% ground beef and 15% ground lamb mix is recommended because the meat can still cook in its own fat, but biting into the final pie won’t result in an excess of liquid fat. 

  • Make sure to use a waxy potato like a gold potato, because potatoes like russet potatoes are too fluffy and won’t hold together in the pie filling.


 

Heritage Highlight…


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