Listen up, friends – it’s fall! Ok, it’s been fall ever since this epically delicious mac and cheese found its way into our mouths and hearts. But in this moment, fall means cozy, savory hand pies stuffed with an earthy butternut squash and salty country ham filling. And did I mention the pastry is loaded with toasted pecans? Yup. Fully channeling autumnal North Carolina goodness here.
Country ham is the salty, umami-ish cousin to city ham. If you’ve never had it, think of it as a meatier version of prosciutto. Bon Appetit has a list of the best brands of country ham in the country although, in my experience, all country ham is good ham. It’s sold in every corner of our little Outer Banks peninsula and I snagged a pack during a recent sweet, relaxing vacay on Ocracoke Island – an oasis located just south of us. These photos from that week just make me heave one big, appreciative sigh:
While I did not make these Squash and Country Ham Hand Pies on that trip, I did think about them a lot. Now, they’ve become a reality and are officially fit for sharing with all of you. Ready?
Here’s how to make squash and country ham hand pies
Start by making the dough, which is just a combo of toasted pecans, flour, salt, butter, and ice water – classic, tasty ingredients. Pulse them in your food processor to make things easy:
Chill the pecan-laced dough for an hour while you make the filling. Said filling starts with roasted butternut squash or whatever squash you love, really. Heck – even sweet potatoes would work here. Just mash up your roasted veg then add some sautéed onion and country ham. I add a little maple syrup and lemon juice to balance out the saltiness of the ham but it’s important to taste this mixture and season to your liking.
Now, you’re ready to roll out your chilled dough and make your hand pies! Use a cutter about 4 1/2″ wide or a similarly sized bowl and a knife to cut out the rounds. (I use a ring from this set of cookies cutters – very handy for savory donut situations, too😜.) Fill the rounds with about two tablespoons of filling, then seal them with the tines of a fork. Brush the pies with a mixture of milk and maple syrup before baking – it makes a tasty and beautifully browned crust on the surface of the dough.
After a mere 40 minutes in the oven, you’re left with this utter gorgeousness…
In the spirit of everything good, cozy, and homemade, I hope you’ll give these hand pies a try! Enjoy, guys!
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links to the food processor I use constantly and a set of cookie cutters that come in super handy for hand pies, homemade donuts, biscuits, etc., etc., etc.!Print
Squash and Country Ham Hand Pies
A super buttery pecan pastry dough surrounding a savory butternut squash and country ham filling! Perfect little homemade hand pies to enjoy as an appetizer, lunch, or light dinner.
- Prep Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
- Yield: 10 hand pies 1x
- Category: appetizer, lunch, dinner
- Method: baked
for the pecan dough
- 1/2 C pecans, toasted in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes and cooled to room temp
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1/2 C ice water
for the squash and country ham filling
- 3 C peeled and diced butternut squash
- 5 TBS olive oil, divided
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 TBS maple syrup or more to taste, plus 1 TBS for brushing the hand pies
- 1/2 a small onion, finely diced
- 3/4 C diced country ham
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- 2 TBS whole milk, for brushing the hand pies
make the pecan dough
- Once the toasted pecans have cooled, pour them into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the flour and salt and pulse until combined.
- Add the chilled, cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- With the processor running, slowly add the ice water until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, pat it into a disk, wrap, and chill for an hour or up to overnight.
Make the Squash and country ham filling
- Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the peeled and cubed butternut squash with 3 TBS of olive oil and the cinnamon. Spread it out evenly on the baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring the pieces around halfway through.
- Transfer the roasted squash to a bowl, mash it with a fork, set it aside, and lower the oven temp to 350.
- In a skillet set over medium heat, heat remaining 2 TBS of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until it begins to turn translucent. Add the diced country ham and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until some pieces are lightly browned on the outside.
- Transfer the onion/ham mixture to the bowl with the squash and stir to combine. Stir in a TBS of maple syrup and a squeeze of lemon juice; add more of either one if you think it needs it. This mixture probably won’t need any salt because the ham is so salty, but add some if that’s more to your taste. Set the mixture aside or refrigerate for a bit to cool it down to room temp.
Shape and bake the hand pies
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and remove your chilled dough from the refrigerator; allow it to sit out on the counter for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir together the milk and 1 TBS of maple syrup in a small bowl and set aside.
- On a clean countertop lightly dusted with flour, roll the dough out to 1/8″ thickness. Use a 4 1/2″ round cookie cutter, or a similarly sized bowl and a knife, to cut out 10 circles – you’ll need to re-roll the scraps once to get 10 pieces.
- Set a small bowl of water next to you, then spoon approximately 2 TBS of the cooled squash/country ham filling onto the lower half of each round of dough. Wet the fingertips of one hand with the water and, one at a time, wet the edge of the lower half of each dough round before folding the upper half over top of the filling and lightly pressing the edges of the dough together. Use the tines of a fork to press and seal the edges.
- Transfer the filled hand pies to the prepared baking sheets and brush the tops with the milk/maple syrup mixture.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes or until they’re nicely browned on top (feel free to blast them with the broiler for the final minutes of cooking to get a nice color on top- just keep a very close eye on them so they don’t burn). Allow the hand pies to cool for a few minutes, then serve!
If you’re a fan of dipping sauces, try a mixture of mayo and honey mustard with these hand pies- it’s pretty heavenly.
Keywords: savory hand pies, squash hand pies, country ham recipe, pecan dough, homemade dough