Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Curried Beef Hand Pies with potatoes and peas

Curried Beef Handpies

I love eating with my hands. Who doesn't? I mean, I'm not going to dive into a bowl of soup with my fingers, but a nice portable little package is always great. Bonus: less dishes to wash!

Ever since I started making this recipe I've been really into hand pies. Sweet, savory, whatever! In fact, since we left Yellowstone I've been talking about how we should move out there and open a pie shop in a gateway city, ha! They're convenient and super versatile, and while making them at home may not be a 30 minute meal, it's easy enough to double a batch to stick in the freezer for an extremely quick and easy lunch or dinner.

For this spin on hand pies I took my most beloved cheesy pastry dough and swapped out the cheddar for comté which I thought would play better with the flavor of the curry. The peas add a bright sweetness, the potatoes are creamy, and there's a nice pop of curry flavor all made extra rich with a light gravy. 

Don't let the length of the recipe scare you away from making these. You'll only actively be cooking or preparing components for about 30 minutes. If you want to make it even easier, just make the pie dough the day before. It's all basic stuff, and if you've made pie dough before then it will be easy peasy for sure! 

Curried Beef Handpies

Curried Beef Hand Pies with potatoes and peas
(makes about 6-7 pies)

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp sweet curry powder
1/8 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks/8oz chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 oz comte, cubed
6-10 Tbsp ice water
eggwash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water

For the filling:
1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/4 tsp sweet curry powder, divided
1/2 tsp garam masala, divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 lb 90/10 ground beef
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup frozen peas, or fresh (blanched)
salt & pepper, to taste

1. To make the crust, add the flours, curry powder, garam masala, salt, cold cubed butter and comte cheese to the bowl of a food processor (you can do this by hand if you prefer of course.) Pulse the mixture about 5 times, or until the butter is cut into pieces the size of large peas. Drizzle in 6 Tbsp of water and pulse a few times, adding more water 1 Tbsp at a time if needed just until the dough holds together when you pinch it. Don't overdo it with the food processor - you want to see small chunks of butter in the flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple times until it holds together. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but can be held overnight.

2. To make the filling, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cubed potatoes and cook until tender. While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Once the potatoes are done, drain well and add them to the hot pan. Add 1/4 tsp curry powder, 1/8 tsp garam masala and a pinch of salt. Stir well and cook just until some of the potatoes are lightly browned, about 5 minutes, then remove from the pan to a small bowl and set aside. 

3. Return the pan to the stove and reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, then add the onion. Cook until soft and lightly brown, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and stir just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef, remaining teaspoon of curry powder, 1/4 tsp garam masala, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned and cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Add the Tablespoon of flour, stir well and cook for another minute or 2. Slowly pour in 3/4 cup of chicken broth (reserve the rest) and bring to a boil. Add the reserved potatoes and cook until liquid is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and cook just until heated through. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Remove from heat and let mixture cool to room temperature. 

4. Once the filling is cooled, look to see if it seems dry. The potatoes will absorb some of the gravy, so if it seems lacking on the gravy or needs to be loosened up a bit, add some of the reserved chicken broth and stir until it is moist. 

5. Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the refrigerated dough and place it on a lightly floured counter and lightly dust the top with flour. Roll the dough out to slightly less than 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out the pie shells using a 6 inch circular cutter if you have it, or find some other instrument like tupperware that's roughly the same size (I used the top of my food processor), or use a knife. Gather up the scraps and re-roll as needed to get 6-7 circles. 

6. Distribute the cooled filling evenly onto the center of each circle of pie dough. Wet the edges of the dough slightly with a little water on your finger, and fold dough in half over the filling. Pinch the edges tightly together and seal by pressing with a fork. Using a fork, poke a few holes in the top of each pie crust, then brush the tops lightly with the eggwash. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before eating. These also freeze beautifully - just cool to room temp, wrap in plastic and place in a resealable plastic bag and freeze! They can be reheated in the oven straight from the freezer. 


  1. Can you tell me what ingredients are in sweet curry powder? And one website I landed at said that curry powder and garam masala are the same thing... I'll be trying this tomorrow... one person at the market I was shopping at suggested I add a bit of sugar and cinnamon to some regular curry. Is that on the right track?

    1. There are many different spices in a sweet curry powder and might vary slightly depending on the blend. However, the blend you buy in your average American grocery store that is labeled simply "Curry Powder" is all pretty similar . Garam masala is a type of curry powder, but is heavier on spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc. So instead of using both you could absolutely just add a few pinches of cinnamon, cloves and/or ginger to taste!

  2. Well, I never found sweet curry and ended up using Madras Curry. I thought the dish could have used a bit more seasoning but my neighbor and official food taster said she thought it was just right and any more would have been overpowering. And we both LOVED the crust. I couldn't find comte so I used gruyere and that seemed to do the trick.

    And I have to mention how beautiful these looked coming out of the oven!!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed them!! The crust is pretty amazing, right?!

  3. The crust IS amazing!!! Pointed a few friends here. Hope they try it and share!

  4. These were great!! Thank you! We served them with this yogurt sauce and loved them!

    250ml (1 cup) plain Greek yogurt
    4 inch piece of cucumber grated
    4 cloves garlic – finely chopped
    1 inch piece of ginger – grated
    Salt, to taste
    Juice of one lime
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

    1. Thanks! That yogurt sauce sounds awesome - I'll try it next time I make them!