Happy Monday, lovely friends! Since the start of wedding season I’ve been feeling a bit bedraggled. I often feel like I’m chasing the minute hand on a big clock, furiously trying to get ahead of it even while the hour hand inescapably moves on its path. Where did the hours go? How is it already almost July? July is an important month for me – it’s always been the mark of mid-summer, the month of July 4th celebrations, my birthday, and anticipation of humidity in Boston. But it’s in JULY. A month far in the future, to be anticipated. Now it’s right around the corner. June is crazy. It’s officially the crazy but beautiful month. Morning dashes to the shower, dragging Annie to the park telling her to hurry up and do her business while pretending she’d understand and comply, converting to Bostonian traffic-isms and finally letting out my road rage. But it’s also the ultimate wedding month. We have weddings every single weekend plus engagement/rehearsal dinner sessions. No matter how busy we get and how little sleep we manage to steal, it’s worth it. We’re photographing love. Sorry for the sap, but we just had an amazing awesome love-filled wedding. Having done so many weddings, I think I’m pretty seasoned and won’t tear up during ceremonies anymore. But this. This one was so beautiful, so touching, and so darn magical that I couldn’t help but being to tear up. I love these guys so much. I can’t wait to blog about it on my photography page. And this little tidbit about their reception really hit home for me: As part of their centerpieces they had pots of herbs: cilantro, mint, basil. They provided little scissors next to these pots. Guests could use said scissors and snip some herbs and distribute it in their drinks or food!!! Isn’t that just so cute and amazing? I love it. Now I want to have a dinner party with basil as the interactive centerpiece.
This little outburst brings me to this post: kimchi pork belly pies. I actually made these several weeks ago but just didn’t have time to edit all the photos and put it together in a post. With everything going on I’ve had difficulty finding time to really blog. I have so many ideas floating in my head, but each idea takes hours to execute. Food blogger friends – am I right?? There’s recipe development, then testing, which arguably is the most important and time consuming part, then photography, editing, and writing. Then all the social media stuff that makes my head hurt sometimes. However, it’s FUN!!!!! I love fiddling around in the kitchen with a challenge – to make something new and weird and hopefully awesome. Of course, new being the relative term – hand pies exist but I wanted to do a riff of it, in my own way. Then photographing it and styling – you know how much I love doing that! I had leftover kimchi and bossam from last time, so stuffing them in pies was the natural next step.
PIES. I love pies. Everyone who knows me knows this. I’ve only had sweet pies on my blog which is kind of a travesty because I love meat pies. Chicken pot pie is a classic, but you know what? I love hand pies / mini pies. I don’t know why they aren’t as known in the states but the multiple times I’ve been to Europe I’ve always seen mini pies. And then I went to New Zealand. Meat pies – MINI meat pies, are a thing there. In fact when we traveled to Te Anau, our base point for our trip to the Milford Sounds, everyone told us to try out this venison pie shop – Miles Better Pies, which is a cute little shop in the city center. We were greeted by a cutout of a cartoon chef, holding a sign with enticing pie flavors on it. I couldn’t resist. It turns out there was so many more flavors than just venison! Alex tried the venison and I had lamb and mint, a classic combination. They’re mini pies, made in these little pie molds. However they were served to-go: wrapped up in little paper sleeves. We walked to Lake Te Anau and nibbled / stuffed down the pies. So good. Such a flaky crust and the savory lamb-mint filling was perfect. Then we had more meat pies throughout our trip. I knew then that I was going to start making more meat pies. Flavors starting popping up in my head and floated around until I could jot them down in my handy notebook. Yes, I have a list of mini pies I have to develop and make and share with you all. Have patience, they will be here eventually.
Let’s start with kimchi and pork belly pies. I provided two ways of making these: in little ramekins (or pie molds if you have them), or as hand pies. Both worked out beautifully but I prefer hand pies. Once they’re wrapped up they’re easier to eat. The mini pies look more fancy and would be great for dinner parties or sit-down meals, but if you need something on-the-go or for a potluck, these hand pies would be more suitable.
Chop your yummy ripe fermented kimchi into little bits, and do the same for your pork belly (this is leftover bossam, which is boiled pork belly. If you are starting from scratch just boil pork belly and chop it into pieces. You can make this beforehand. After refrigerating the pork belly it will solidify, with a layer of white fat on top. Scrape off the white fat and then heat up the rest in a saucepan. When it becomes liquid again, remove pork belly and chop into pieces).
Sautee them in a skillet until pork is caramelized and then add kimchi until well coated. Make a little spicy gravy with butter and leftover kimchi brine until mixture is thick.
Important: let kimchi pork belly mixture cool to room temperature.
For ramekin mini pies: Line the bottom with rolled out pie dough, making sure to leave a 1″ overhang around the edges. Then, cut out another circle about the size of the ramekin opening and lay it across the meat mixture. Trip overhang and then fold over the circle of dough. Cut some slits over the surface. For hand pies: Start with a square. Add in 1-2 tbsp of pork mixture and then fold two corners over. Use an egg wash to seal dough. Take the bottom corner and fold over, making sure there is overlap with the two sides already folded in so that it won’t leak. Repeat with the top one, and cut in slits over the surface as well.Brush with an egg wash and bake. The kimchi and pork belly flavors go so well together. True, you lose the crunch of uncooked ripe kimchi that is so important in bossam, but if you love kimchi fried rice, you’ll know that cooked kimchi is actually quite delicious as well. Imagine that with pork belly and a buttery, flaky crust.
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RECIPE: Kimchi and Pork Belly Mini / Hand Pies
Double Pie Crust, 9″
2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks butter, cubed into 1 cm pieces, cold – prepare this beforehand
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 egg + splash water for egg wash
1| Prepare: Cube butter into 1cm pieces, and place it in a bowl in the freezer. I find that this allows the butter to get very cold before you work with it. Put water in freezer as well. Don’t worry about it freezing- you will use it before it can freeze.
2| Combine flour, salt, sugar, black pepper.
3| Take cold butter, and using a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers, work quickly and cut butter into dry ingredients. Pea size chunks will remain, and that’s completely fine.
4| Take out water. Using tablespoons at a time, mix it into dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix or knead. Add the mixture gradually – you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. The resulting dough should be damp but not moist.
5| Separate dough into two halves. Shape into disks and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in fridge. Let dough rest for at least 1 hour. *I find it easier to work in two batches.
Kimchi / pork belly pie
1 cup kimchi, strained and roughly chopped, reserve liquid
2 cloves garlic
2 cups bossam (boiled pork belly), roughly chopped.
2 tbsp butter, separated to 1 tbsp each
1 tbsp flour
1| Heat up 1 tbsp butter in a pan and lightly fry bossam until golden brown on all sides. If you’re using bossam from the fridge, then first remove the white fat on the surface then heat up in sauce pan. Remove from liquid (save the stock for something else, like soup!)
2| Add in kimchi and cook until warmed. Push pork and kimchi to the side and add in the second tbsp of butter. When melted, add in 1 tbsp flour and whisk until a roux forms. Add in kimchi spicy brining liquid 1 tbsp at a time until it takes on the consistency you want. Mix with pork belly and kimchi.
3| Let cool completely.
4| Assemble: roll pie dough on a lightly floured surface
- Ramekin Mini Pies: Cut out a circle about 2.5″ wider all around than the area of the ramekin. Gently place it in ramekin and line bottom, leaving about 1″ overhang around the edges (see photo above). Spoon filling into ramekin up to the top. Cut out a circle about the size of the ramekin opening. Place gently over filling. Trip overhang and crimp over the circle of dough, as pictured.
- Hand Pies: Cut out squares about 4″ wide. Spoon filling into the middle. Take two opposite corners and fold over each other, using an egg wash to seal. Take the bottom corner and fold over, making sure it overlaps with the two corners already folded, so that there are no gaps. Then fold over the top corner, also ensuring overlap.
- With both, use a sharp knife to cut some venting slits.
5| Place in fridge for 10 minutes.
6| Brush with egg wash and bake for 30-40 minutes at 400F, until golden brown.
black walnut board by Michael’s Woodcraft