The Baking Issue



The town of Natchitoches became a household name when the hit movie Steel Magnolias was filmed there in 1989. Natchitoches predates the1718 founding of New Orleans; according to the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, “Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, in an effort to establish trade with the Spanish in Mexico, commissioned the building of a small fort on the west bank of the Red River near a village of the Natchitoches Indians in 1714.”

I was introduced to the local delicacy called Natchitoches meat pies in the late 1960s, when my parents took us to the quaint Central Louisiana town located on the Red River to attend the annual Christmas Festival of Lights, which began in 1927. Our visit would not have been complete without enjoying the famous Natchitoches meat pies (believed to have been around since the Civil War — or as early as the 1700s, when legend has it street vendors sold them along Front Street). The pies are served at just about every eatery in the area.

However, it’s Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant that resurrected the local delicacy in 1967, and continues to crank out thousands of the handmade meat-filled crispy pastries. We happily feasted on a couple of dozen in the restaurant and purchased some to take home with us.

According to the locals, there is some discussion regarding the amount of beef and pork that should go into the meat pies. Lasyone’s still use their original recipe with a 4-to-1 ratio of ground beef to ground pork, but most other outlets use equal parts beef and pork. I always say, make it to please your own palate!

Just so you know how important the meat pies are to this town, the Louisiana legislature declared by unanimous vote in the summer of 2003, at the initiative of Representative Taylor Townsend (a native of Natchitoches), “There shall be an official state meat pie. The official state meat pie shall be the Natchitoches meat pie.”

I’ve tried several versions of the meat pie, and finally decided this is the one that tickles my taste buds. Here’s the recipe.