On his first day of business at the PSU farmers market this March, Jake Gangsei, the owner of Merry Meat Pie Company, sold out of pies in just four hours. And while Merry Meat might be thought of as a newcomer to Portland’s farmers market scene, that first morning set the tone for what just might turn out to be a merry little meat pie empire.
Before launching the business with the help of girlfriend Mandarin Yan and longtime friend (and head chef at Fenrir) Ian Wilson, Gangsei says he knew relatively little about pie-making. His interest in socially and ecologically sustainable food systems largely fueled his desire to make meat pies, which use multiple types of farm goods—eggs, meat, and vegetables—all in one product. He also began to ponder the idea of making not just ordinary meat pies, but also pies that highlight underutilized cuts of meat and "odd bits." Gangsei has big plans to soon offer a “Scary Meat Pie,” using some less popular meat ingredients. While the concept is still in its infancy, Gangsei revealed that we can expect tongue…and trotters…and a few other surprises.
For now, however, pie enthusiasts can enjoy Jake’s rotating classics, wrapped and ready to take home: Lapin au Vin (rabbit in red wine), This Little Piggy (pork and parsnip), 50 Shades of Garlic (pork and garlic), The Drunken Heifer (beef and stout), Gumbo, and Das Schwein Torte (pork, beer, potatoes, cabbage, and fennel.
Each pie is cradled in a homemade crust and, after a quick pop in your oven, the pies come out golden and flaky on the outside and warm on the inside. In case you might still have room for more after your meat pie, Gangsei also sells freshly baked bacon chocolate chip cookies. You know, because what goes better with meat pie than meat cookies?
Merry Meat Pies can be purchased at the PSU Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8:30 am to 2 pm, the King Market on Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm, and at Stone Cottage Herbs on Tuesday evenings from 3 pm to 7:30 pm. The pie company is also in talks with New Seasons for a coveted spot in their Local Finds program and anticipates, if all goes according to plan, selling pies daily at the local grocer within the next year. Sounds like a slice of Portland culinary success to us!