Sausage Feta Hand Pies: Monday Night Martha

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There is a new favorite here at Monday Night Martha -- Sausage and Feta Hand Pies.

The filling made of crumbled sweet Italian sausage, thinly sliced slightly licorice-y fennel, onion, crushed red pepper flake -- along with 6 diced plum tomatoes, feta cheese and chopped fresh parsley - is delicious. And, even better, this mixture gets stuffed inside a light, flaky and buttery crust.

Seriously, these hand pies rock.

This enthusiasm was not anticipated, because for starters this recipe requires making pie dough. Just the thought of having to make pie dough led to some skepticism - won't that be complicated and time-consuming? But between the rainy weather and the need to do laundry, we figured, might as well do ourselves a favor and make a treat while we're domesticating. The perseverance paid off.

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Begin by following Martha's recipe for pate brisee, a basic pie or tart dough that is not too sweet. The dough can be made in less than five minutes with a food processor. To get the best results, use chilled butter and ice-cold water. Then take the dough, divide it into two, flatten each half into a disc and refrigerate for the better part of an hour.

Meanwhile turn your attention to the already mentioned filling. Beginning by crumbling a pound of sweet Italian sausage into a pan and brown. (Or use turkey sausage.)

Once the filling is prepared it is time to roll out the dough and cut it into squares. Martha says 5-inch squares, but 6-inch squares were easier to fold. Also, rectangular shapes were harder to work with, so try and keep them squared-off.

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A half-cup of filling is put into the center of each pie-dough square. Fold the corners of the dough over the filling, leaving about 1/4 inch of space. Once assembled, give the meat pies a quick brush of egg wash and sprinkle with a few fennel seeds.

Bake them at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes until they are golden.

Digging in, there was nothing overpowering -- just a great blend of flavors. Layered and with depth. Sausage feta hand pies would be good for brunch. They would be good for a picnic. There is really not a time they wouldn't be good. Eating savory hand pies put us in a good mood -- we made martinis to accompany the seconds.

And bonus: There was enough extra dough to make some impromptu cherry turnovers.

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