Recipe Review

Low-tech Korean Bulgogi Mini Pies Best Pie Bakeoff 2008 Entry #10

updated Jun 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
Recipe: Ian’s Low-tech Korean Bulgogi Mini Pies
Category: Original

Ask and you shall receive. Quite a few of you were hoping for more savory pies in this Bakeoff. Well, this plus the Confetti Quiche from yesterday makes two, and we have more coming up.

This recipe from Ian also showcases a good product from Trader Joe’s – but it’s not one you might expect (it wasn’t on our list!). Read on for Ian’s great little meat pies and his explanation of why they are the best pie he knows.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Where is this recipe from? I made it up. I firmly believe that as a practical home cook, you have to make choices of how much of a dish will be homemade and how much will be pre-packaged. I have a job, I can’t make it all from scratch!

Well, I’ve tried making pies where I marinated my own meat and used store bought crust. And ew. The crust is what makes a pie.

As for the low-tech factor… Look, pie was invented before food processors and digital kitchen scales. It’s simple food and it should be simple to make. It’s harder to mess up than people think. In fact, I think the only thing you can do to screw up a pie is burn it into charcoal, and it’s not hard to avoid doing that.

Why is this the BEST pie recipe you’ve got? The crust is perfect. Butter is heavenly. But the bulgogi is what makes this pie. Bulgogi is a sweet marinated beef and it bridges the gap between sweet and savory pies.

And the cuteness… On the list of cute things from cutest to least cute you have: puppies, bunnies, mini-pies, kitties, regular sized pies, stinky socks and human babies.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Low-tech Korean Bulgogi Mini Pies

Trader Joes Pre-Marinated Bulgogi Beef
3 Cups flour
1.5 sticks butter very chilled (or a mix of butter and shortening)
A little salt
Beef stock (or water)
Egg wash made from one egg and a tablespoon of water

Tools required: Mini muffin pan (silicone makes them easier to take out)
1 pastry blender
Saran Wrap or Freezer bag
Rolling pin (or in my case, a wine bottle)
A knife. Any kind of knife.
A glass whose diameter is about 1.5 times the diameter of your mini muffin pockets.

The Meat: In a baking dish with a half cup of stock (or water) in the bottom, put it in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. The meat is preseasoned and marinated so you don’t have to worry about that. When it’s done, remove the beef and let it rest. Then chop it up. The smaller the better. You have a lot of leeway with the meat since the stock will keep it from overcooking, and its hard to undercook since it will be rebaked in the pies. You can make your crust while the meat is cooking.

Mix up your flour with a dash of salt in a mixing bowl with a fork. This is what I call “Poor man’s sifting”. I cube up the butter into small pieces so that it will cut into the flour easier. Stick the cubes in the flour and shop those suckers up with your pastry blender until it’s pretty well cut in, basically until you can’t reach in and pick up big chunks of butter anymore. Then a little ice cold water to turn it into dough. Just splash in a little bit at a time and cut it with the pastry blender until this nonsense becomes a slightly crumbly dough. Wrap this all up in a freezer bag or saran wrap and let it relax in the fridge for an hour (or until you get impatient.) This lets the tiny amount of water soak in nicely and chills the butter for tender flaky crust.

To roll the dough out, I use the Alton Brown method of cutting a freezer bag so it is only attached on one side. Roll the dough inside the bag, using a rolling pin or chilled wine bottle. There is a perfect thickness where it is very thin but not so thin that it will break apart, a little less than a millimeter. After rolling cut rounds of dough using the glass. They can be a little tricky to get into the mini-muffin pan because the sides of the pan are steep, unlike a proper tartlet pan, but basically I fold it up so it looks like a clover and then smoosh it down with my fingers so that it has smooth walls and a little lip.

Put your finely diced bulgogi into each pie and then spoon some of the drippings on in there. Don’t overstuff the beef. If you spoon the drippings on and they sit on top instead of draining into the pie, then it’s packed too tightly.

For the tops of the pie, I roll them a little thicker. You can cut them with another smaller diameter glass, or just eyeball it with a knife. I eyeballed it and then trimmed it after the fact so that they were more pie shaped. Apply eggwash to the edge of each pie with your fingertip or a pastry brush or paper towel and put the tops on. Smoosh the tops into the bottoms with your fingers. Low-tech cooking is all about using your fingers.

Then take your knife (or a straw or chopstick or boney index finger) and poke a hole in each pie for steam to escape. Put a coating of egg wash on each pie and bake. Twenty minutes at 400 and you should be good to go.

Serve with kimchi as a side.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
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(Images: Ian)