Happy Pi Day, everyone! For those of you who were unaware, today is 3/14, a day of mathematical and gastronomical importance. I wasn’t too prepared for Pi Day this year (come to think of it, this is a holiday that always sneaks up on me… it really should get more media coverage) so I didn’t get started on these pies until this morning.
This recipe is inspired by the garlicky kale hand pies we used to make at Four & Twenty Blackbirds. The crust was oh-so-flaky and rich, and despite the simple ingredients (kale, garlic, salt & red pepper) the filling was oh-so-tasty. My version has Asian collards that we picked up from Sassafras Fork Farm, which are less waxy and therefore faster to cook than regular collard greens. Collards mean vinegar so I threw some apple cider vinegar in there to enhance the flavor. The kale is from Pineknot Farms in Hurdle Mills. And then there’s a little spoonful of goat cheese in each tart. Why not? The crust is super buttery and flaky, made with a bit of cornmeal and fresh ground black pepper.
The best thing about these pies? You can fully assemble them and then throw them in the freezer indefinitely for a super quick (and portable) meal. Though if you bake them off all at once they will disappear instantly.
First start with the crust. I will say this again and again, it is so much easier if you keep your ingredients cold! Combine all of your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together well. I usually just use my pastry cutter to whisk to avoid dirtying a whisk. I like to start out with my butter in the freezer, but if you're not going to do that, make sure to keep it cold. Cut your butter into small (about quarter inch size) cubes. If it starts to get melty pop it in the freezer for a few minutes. Add the butter to the mixing bowl and cut it into the dries until it is thoroughly combined and the butter is now in pea-sized balls. Add the cold water ¼ cup at a time, combining thoroughly with your pastry cutter. Your dough should not be sticky at all, just moist enough to come together. Form it into a large ball and flatten to about ½ inch thick disk (this will help it chill quicker). Wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge to chill.
While the crust is chilling start making the filling. De-stem and tear the kale into pieces. Remove the stems from the collards and chop coarsely. Chop the garlic into very small pieces. Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium low heat. Add the kale, collards and garlic and stir to coat in the oil. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper, keeping the heat steady and stirring occasionally to make sure the greens are cooking evenly. Cook until the collards have started to shrink down and become wet and tender, about ten minutes. This is going to bake a while so don't worry if it seems a little undercooked. Remove the greens from the heat and allow them to cool to room temperature. You should have about 2 ½ to 3 cups of filling.
While the greens are cooling remove the dough from the fridge. Divide the dough into ten equal parts. On a well-floured surface roll out each piece of dough very thin into a six-inch circle. When you're finished, place all of the pieces (lightly-floured so they don't stick together) on a plate and keep in the fridge. It's much easier to form the hand pies if the dough is chilled.
Get ready start assembling the pies! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat in the freezer or if you're saving these for future baking, have a freezer bag on hand. If you're doing egg wash (I would skip it if you're going to freeze the pies for later use) whisk an egg with a fork in a small ramekin.
Place a quarter cup of filling in the center of each rolled out crust (if pie crust is the bane of your existence, try keeping the rolled out pieces in the fridge on the plate and pulling them one or two at a time so it stays cold). Crumble a tablespoon of goat cheese over the top and fold the circle over, sealing well by pressing the edges hard with your fingers (don't be afraid to be aggressive!) I almost never roll out perfect circles so I trim mine with a pizza cutter to be perfect half-circles. Crimp as you wish and place on the baking sheet or in the freezer bag. Repeat for all of the pies. I like to let my pies sit in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. This helps them hold their intended shape. Brush each pie with egg wash before baking for 30 minutes.