Sometimes — you gotta be a lil sneakysneaks.
Like when you try to make your kids eat vegetables by hiding broccoli in mac n’ cheese and applesauce in brownies.
Well — confessions — I’ve been doing the same thing. Except it’s with offals and somma y’alls a buncha grown-ups that squeal like toddlers when they hear ‘liver’.
So I don’t tell you. I hand you pie and you eat it and you love it. And then I laugh an evil cackle laugh in my head. I’m assuming all the parents are maniacally giggling on the inside too?
Why the general public (in the US at least) has chosen to shy away from off-cuts is quite a dense topic that I will dive into someday, (promise). But today is not that day.
Today I’m too tired to yell about post-war capitalism and the assault of the refrigerator.
But I’m never too tired for pie. So let’s get back to that.
Savory pies are such dee-lightful flaky bundles of joy. I love how they sit on a tray all lined up with their plump bellies sticking up in the air like my french bull dog JuJu splayed out in nap time.
These pies not only look mad cute — they’re also dang delicious. Biting into one you’re hit with all these marvelous flavors. The toothsome mushrooms. The creamy savory hit of livers. The bright pops of shallot and capers and fresh herby thyme.
If you’re a little shy of livers — or trying to convert and make a new liver disciple — this is an excellent starter recipe. The liver is bound up with lots of other umami bits and they get along with mushrooms so well it’s like it’s meant to be. All one big happy family inside that pie.
And if you wanna join the mischievous pie maker club — don’t tell them! None shall be the wiser and your secret’s safe with me. mwahaha
The recipe card here is kinda long I admit but I promise it’s simple. In the end you’re only cooking a few things (just one pan people!), then blitzing/mixing/assembling.
Extra filling which you’ll most likely have (cause there’s never enough dough to filling in my life) can be used as omlette insides, mixed into a quiche filling, fried up with some rice, or frozen for future pie babies.
Mushroom & Liver Hand Pies with Shallots & Thyme
- 1 lb favorite pie dough homemade or store bought, chilled in the fridge til ready to use.
- flour for dusting
- 1 egg yolk for egg wash
- sea salt and thyme for topping
For the mushroom & livers:
- 1/2 lb chicken or duck livers rinsed and patted dry
- 1 lb mushrooms baby bellas or button or whatever you've got
- 2 shallots diced
- 2 garlic cloves diced
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves plucked
- 1-2 tsp kosher salt *using about half for livers and other half for mushrooms*
- 1 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- olive oil & butter for pan
For the rest of the filling:
- 2 scallions finely sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped olives any kind is fine
- 1 tsp capers
- zest of one lemon
- 4 ounces cream cheese at room temp
- 1 tsp worchestershire sauce
Cooking the livers and mushrooms:
Get a large frying pan over medium high heat, add a good slug of olive oil and a nub of butter. Let melt and get sizzly.
Add the diced shallots, stirring for a moment. Slip in the livers and season them well with salt and pepper, but don't move them around — they need to sit and brown their lil bellies up.
After about two minutes, turn them over and season the other side. They will sputter and squinch up and that's totally fine — that's just livers living their best lives.
Once the other side has browned — stab one through the middle with a spatula to check the color — is it red or pink? If it's red give them another minute, if it's pink slide them all out straight into the food processor.
Without cleaning the pan add another nub of butter and swig of olive oil. Scrape up the bottom to dislodge any flavorful brown bits and add the mushrooms and thyme.
PSA — to avoid soggy mushroom butt you might need to do this in two batches so they have enough room to brown! Depending on the size of your pan, if they're getting crowded they won't caramelize and will just sit in their watery mushroom pee and it's gross and I hate it and you will too.
Anyways, let the mushrooms cook way down til they are a dark, dark brown. Once they're all done — chuck them into the food processor. Scrape in any nubby pan bits while you're at it.
Making the filling:
Pulse quickly about three times. DO NOT over grind to a paste! You want large pebble sized pieces. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Now add in the rest of the filling — the cream cheese, scallions, olives, capers, lemon zest and worcestershire — to the processor and give it a quick whizz around to incorporate.
Dump the cream cheese mix into the bowl with the livers and mushrooms and stir with a spatula. Taste it! Does it need salt? A squeeze of lemon? Get 'er done.
Chill filling while you roll out your dough.
Preheat the oven to 400*F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Flour your work station and roll out your dough to standard pie thickness.
Using a 2-3" cookie cutter (which if you don't have no big deal use a glass or small bowl) cut out rounds.
Get a small bowl of water, your bowl of filling, and line up all your dough circles. Place a large spoonful of the mixture in every other round. (If you have one of those small cookie scoopy things use that to go faster.)
For each pie: Wet the borders and place the free round on top. Use the tines of a fork to close up the pie or do some fancy crimping.
Stir the yolk with a little water and brush tops with the egg wash. Make a small 'x' to vent and sprinkle with sea salt and some fresh thyme leaves.
Bake for 20 minutes in the middle rack until the pastry is golden brown.
Let cool slightly and serve.