"Meat pies" commonly refers to turnovers filled with a meat, fish, or other filling and are popular appetizers/snacks/street foods in Ghana and other parts of West Africa. The filling may include items ranging from canned corned beef to leftover fish or cooked meat or ground beef, or even vegetables. Sometimes the pastry includes egg yolk and the filling other spices, such as a little nutmeg.
Here is our family's favorite (and easiest) version. I often double this recipe to make party snacks (or to take to church or school functions), or our family eats the turnovers as a light supper (or a very portable make-ahead picnic lunch) when accompanied with a salad or side vegetable and fruit. Fish turnovers are mildly reminiscent of Indian or East African samosas or sambusas, which are deep-fried rather than baked.
Ingredients for the filling:
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup canned tuna fish in water, drained (or leftover cooked, flaked fish)
1 tablespoon onion, minced
2 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
a dash or two of ground red pepper (or to taste)
Ingredients for the pastry:
2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling out pastry
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
6-7 tablespoons cold water
measuring cups and spoons
large mixing bowl
waxed paper (optional)
2 table knives or pastry blender
~3-inch circle (jar lid, glass, bowl, biscuit cutter, etc.)
1. Assemble the ingredients and utensils. Hard boil the egg in a small saucepan, peel, and set aside.
2. Open the tomato paste and tuna fish, and drain the water off the tuna.
3. Peel and mince the onion. Mash the peeled egg with a fork in a small bowl.
4. Melt the margarine in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, then turn the heat to low and add the water, tomato paste, flour, salt and pepper. Stir well, then flake the tuna fish and stir it and the mashed egg into the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes then set the pan aside while you prepare the pastry.
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, then using a pastry blender, two knives, or your (clean) hands, cut the shortening in until it is in pieces the size of small peas. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over part of the flour mixture, then gently mix it and push it to the side with a fork, continuing until all the pastry is moistened. Dust your hands with flour and form the mixture into a couple of balls.
Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour (I often use wax paper on a barely moistened counter to make cleanup easier), then roll out one of the balls (cover the other one and/or put it in the refrigerator while you work) until it is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is too crumbly, add a little more more water and if it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Using the biscuit cutter or glass or even a knife,
cut the dough into circles and place them on the cookie sheet.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a small glass or bowl with water. Put a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Dip your finger into the water and moisten the edges, then fold the pastry over to form half circles. Dip a fork in flour, then crimp around the edges of the turnover to seal it well. Prick the top several times with the fork to let steam escape, but don not prick through the bottom side of the turnover.
Bake in a hot over (400 degrees F) for about 20 minutes (check after 15 minutes) until they are crisp and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Repeat until all the dough and filling is used, re-rolling scraps once or twice but not until they become tough.