I’m a glutton for punishment.
I first made hand pies back in 2014 with a strawberry filling. They are freaking awesome. However, they are a pain in the butt to make, at least for a perfectionist like me. I roll out the pastry dough, measure, then re-roll, then re-measure, again and again, down to the milometer. It’s not hard to do but it’s undeniably frustrating. I pretty much swore I’d never make them again.
The problem is that you find yourself wanting to make new kinds of pastry with this dough because it’s that amazing. (If you can really call that a “problem.”) To simplify my life, I even cheated by making a giant “hand pie” that was all of the delicious, but almost none of the frustration. While it definitely simplified things, the neatly sealed edges of the real thing were calling out to me. After two years of avoiding it, I came up with this savory version. If you want to make the giant version that’ll work here too, but I don’t want to be in charge of cutting it with the meat in there.
I can safely say that this savory version of hand pies did not disappoint. They are delicious beyond belief, which meant that I of course had to share it with you. You’ve got the classic ham and cheese duo surrounded by flaky crusty goodness. It’s hard to imagine a sandwich where the bread is pie crust sucking, and well, as you’d probably expect, they don’t suck. Make a bunch of them, freeze them (or don’t if they don’t make it that long), store them individually, and they make for the perfect grab and go lunch.
You’ll note that I am vague in the directions with what kind of ham and/or cheese to use and how much. You really can’t go wrong here. Use what you like to eat and layer just a slice or two, depending on how much “stuff” you want in your pocket. If that means turkey and Swiss cheese for you, or perhaps roast beef and American cheese, then great!
Don’t waste any of that precious pastry dough. I used the leftovers to make some heart shaped bites. (Very appropriate for Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend. 😉 )
Unfortunately, I still find them a bit labor intensive to make, but that’s just me. My husband is way more relaxed in the kitchen and doesn’t have any issues making them. He rolled out a bunch of the dough, and somehow got it nearly perfect in like a quarter the time it took me. He even avoiding swearing in the process. I think the moral of the story is that he helps to keep me calm in life, and when he can’t keep me calm in the kitchen he just takes over. It’s probably better for everyone involved.
Ham and Cheese Pockets Recipe
(Makes 9 pockets)
Note: This recipe requires 1 hour of chilling time.
Ingredients for the Pastry:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (equivalent to 8.6 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, cold (equivalent to 2 sticks)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 large egg, beaten (for brushing on top of the hand pies)
- (optional) sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
Ingredients for the Filling:
- ham (or other meats)
- cheese (any kind you like)
Directions for the Pastry:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
- Cut the cold butter into lots of small chunks.
- Add the chunks of butter to the dry ingredients and combine using a pastry blender or your fingers, until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
- Mix in the egg and milk until combined.
- Divide the dough in half.
- Lightly flour your working surface and shape each half of the dough into 3 inch x 5 inch rectangles. (This makes rolling them out later a little easier.)
- Wrap them each in plastic wrap and chill them for 1 hour.
Directions for Assembling the Pockets:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper or silicone mats and set them aside.
- Lightly flour your working surface.
- Take one of the rectangle shaped dough pieces and roll it out to a 9 inch x 12 inch rectangle. (This is the bottom layer of dough.)
- Trim the edges to make them even and straight.
- Using a knife, cut out nine 3 inch x 4 inch rectangles.
- Move the 9 pieces to the prepared baking pans.
- Place the ham and cheese in the middle of each rectangle, leaving about 1/4 inch along the edges.
- Repeat steps #3 through #6 for the other piece of dough. (This is for the top layer of dough.)
- Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges.
- Place the 9 pieces on top of the bottom half of the pockets.
- Using a fork, press the edges together to create a tight seal.
- Gently cut a vent on the top of each pocket. (I used 4 diagonal slits near the corners.)
- Brush the top of each hand pie with the beaten egg.
- (optional) Sprinkle sesame seeds on to each assembled pie.
- Bake them in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. (I baked 1 baking pan at a time.)
Source for Pastry: King Arthur Flour
Here are some other perfect pastry delights.