Just imagine the kind of food you’d order when you stop at a tavern for a long rest in the game. Your character needs to recover hit points and that requires time and hearty food doesn’t hurt. Luckily, the book includes recipes for feasts such as Orc Bacon, Drow Mushroom Steaks, and Trolltide Candied Apples. And we have an exclusive recipe from the book to share with you: Hand Pies. This delicious menu item provides sustenance for your character to go on a quest or for you, the player, to roll some dice. I’m drooling just from the picture.
Put on an apron and get ready to cook.
These palm-size pastries are as near a tavern staple as you can get. From town to town, you can find them stuffed with an astonishing variety of ingredients, ranging from venison or minced chicken to beef, minted lamb, or peacock (though usually just with leftovers from the meal before). Hand pies take on many forms and flavors and travel particularly well, making them adventurer-friendly fare. The variety presented below, made famous at Cuttle’s Meat Pies located in Waterdeep’s Trades Ward, is flavored with bacon and leeks and is extremely popular across the Heartlands, the Dales, and even the Savage Coast north of Faerûn, where hungry adventurers simply can’t get enough of them.
MAKES FOUR 6-INCH HAND PIES
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1 large (about 8 ounces) Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 leeks, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Pastry for 2 double-crust pies (about 1 ½ pounds), thawed if frozen
Ketchup, grainy mustard, or steak sauce to serve (optional)
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon, turning it over as necessary, until well-rendered and lightly browned, about 13 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and reserve.
Measure the rendered fat. Reserve 2½ tablespoons and save the rest for another use or discard it. Return 1½ tablespoons of the fat to the skillet, set over medium-high heat, and allow the fat to warm until shimmering. Add the potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon bacon fat and allow it to warm until shimmering. Add the leeks, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the leeks soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet, return it to medium-high heat, add the beef, and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until it begins to lose its pink color, 4 to 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium, add the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and ¾ teaspoon salt and cook, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen and dissolve any sticking browned bits, until the mixture thickens (and is almost a bit pasty), about 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the potato mixture, stir to incorporate the two, and set aside to cool until barely warm, about 20 minutes.
Crumble the bacon and add to the bowl with the parsley; stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick (silicone) liner. Have a small bowl of water handy. If working with homemade pie pastry, divide the dough into quarters. On a lightly floured work surface or parchment paper, roll out a quarter of the dough to make rounds.
Cut the dough into a 10 by 8-inch oval. Place 1 cup of the filling mixture on the bottom third of the dough (a narrow end), leaving about a 1½ -inch border around the edges. Moisten the whole perimeter of the dough with water and, using a bench scraper if necessary, fold the top of the oval over the filling to form a half-moon shape. Press the dough around the filling to eliminate any air and to seal. Use the tip of a knife to make a small vent in the shape of an “X” in the center of each pie. Trim any ragged edges and, using a fork, crimp the edges to seal them. Again, using a bench scraper if necessary, transfer the formed pie to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush the top and sides of each pie with the mixture. Bake until the pies are golden brown and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer the pies to a wire rack, cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve hot with ketchup, grainy mustard, or steak sauce on the side.