Brandon Carter's Pecan Hand Pies

Brandon Carter's Pecan Hand Pies

Southern Voices: Brandon Carter, FARM at Bluffton
By Stephanie Burt

Chef Brandon Carter grew up in Atlanta, raised by parents from the Midwest. “So even though I was exposed to Southern food, at home, we had pot roast, Northeast traditional boiled dinner, meatloaf, those sorts of things,” he says. “But my family always made pies.”

His grandmother was famous for her pies, and his mom carried on the tradition, though she tweaked the crust recipe a bit by adding butter instead of making it all shortening or lard.  And there was often pie in the house, including pecan. When Carter started cooking professionally, he tweaked the crust a little further by “getting cheffy with it,” he says, grating frozen butter into the flour for an even flakier texture.

After Carter became the executive chef at FARM (he’d already become known in the Bluffton area through his stint as the executive chef at Palmetto Bluff), he knew that hand pies with his family pie crust recipe would be on the menu, and although he does a variety of flavors, from peach to raspberry to coconut cream, the pecan pie hand pie is one of the most requested. With the inclusion of local cane syrup that is pressed less than an hour from the restaurant and a good pour of bourbon, he proves he’s a “Southern boy” after all.

Pecan Hand Pies
from Chef Brandon Carter FARM, Bluffton, SC

Yield: 6 hand pies

For the pie dough

½ lb. unsalted butter
8 Tbsp shortening
5 ½  c. all-purpose flour
½ c. ice water
2 tsp kosher salt

  1. Place the butter in the freezer for about an hour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the shortening, flour and salt.
  3. Using your hands, distribute the shortening through the flour until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
  4. Using the largest side of a box grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture. Gently “fluff” the grated butter into the flour mixture.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
  6. Strain the ice out of the water and pour into the well.
  7. Gently mix the dough by hand until a ball forms, adding more water as needed to hydrate the dough.
  8. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.


For the pecan filling

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 Tbsp. light brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
¾ c. cane syrup
3 Tbsp. bourbon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 eggs
¾ c. pecans, toasted and chopped 

  1. In a large pot, combine butter, sugar, salt, cane syrup, bourbon and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs together.
  3. Once your syrup has come to a boil, remove from the heat and whisk one cup of the mixture at a time into the eggs. Once thoroughly combined, return the contents of the bowl to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  4. Stir in the pecans and cool the filling.


To make the hand pies

3 eggs, reserve the egg whites to make an egg wash
1 qt. canola oil
Powdered sugar
Whipped cream

  1. Divide the dough into six pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time and keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator until ready to form.
  2. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a circle, about 8 inches in diameter.
  3. Spoon 1/3 to ½ cup of pecan filling in the center. Brush edges of circle with egg wash.
  4. Fold dough over filling to make a half moon shape and crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
  5. Repeat instructions on remaining dough balls. Store finished hand pies in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  6. In a large fry pot, heat oil to 350 degrees. Add pies and fry until golden brown.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.

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