It’s getting chilly outside in Melbourne, which is just perfect for huddling in a cosy spot with a steaming hot meat pie. Such an iconic meal to savour on an outside bench somewhere with a decent lashing of tomato sauce.
I’ve taken the Australian Beef Pie and added some a few tasty twists to make a warming winter bundle of meaty pastry goodness.
Pepperberries are a delicious native Australian addition which add a complex spicy flavour - a little like Szechuan pepper, with a decent peppery kick and a hint of purple hue. Of course regular black pepper would make a fine substitute here.
For added flavour my meat pie has grated celeriac and parsnip, which completely dissolves into the filling, leaving behind it’s delicious flavour and acting as a natural thickener. (and a bonus of hidden vegetables)
I’ve made my own pastry, and once you’ve tried it, I believe there is no going back. That being said there are some amazing ready made puff pastries out there, and these make for a much quicker yet still delicious home made meat pie.
For the filling:
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1kg grass fed (preferably organic) beef mince
1 large red onion
1 cup grated celeriac
1 cup grated parsnip
500ml beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 tablespoons dark soy sauce (to taste)
1 cup dashi broth
black pepper to taste
sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon crushed pepperberries (plus extra)
2 tablespoons cornflour
For the rough puff pastry: (or use 2 packets of store bought butter puff pastry)
500g chilled unsalted butter
500g plain or ’00’flour
275ml iced water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
For the hot water crust pastry: (adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly)
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
60g lard (or butter)
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons milk
To Make the Pies:
Prepare the filling in advance to allow it to cool.
Chop the onion and fry in oil using a large deep frypan until well browned.
Add the mince and fry until nicely browned and cooked through.
Pour in the stock and bring to boil, scraping off any stuck bits at the bottom of the pan.
Add the celeriac, parsnip, tomato sauce, dashi, mace (or nutmeg), pepperberries and soy.
Allow to simmer over low heat for two hours, topping up with extra water should it start to boil dry.
Make sure you check on it so that the mix doesn’t burn to the base of the frypan. You want to maintain a decent amount of liquid in the mixture to form the gravy.
Season with salt and pepper to paste.
Mix the cornflour with about 1/4 cup of water to make a slurry.
Take the mixture off the heat and add enough of the cornflour mixture to thicken the filling, preferably working in increments to stop it getting too stodgy. Bring to boil for 2 minutes and add extra cornflour if it is still too thin.
Cool the mixture before making the pies.
For the rough puff pastry:
Mix together the salt, water and lemon juice.
Cut the butter into 1 cm cubes.
Tip the flour onto a cool bench. Place the cubed butter on top of the flour and toss it through with your fingers, then take a couple of bench scrapers and chop the butter into the flour until it is in small hazelnut sized pieces.
Move the flour/butter mixture into a large wide bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the water mixture. Use a spoon to mix it all together until you have a cohesive ball, trying not to work the butter in too much.
Empty onto a lightly floured bench and pat everything together into a flat circle, then roll out into a large (20 by 60cm approx) rectangle.
Fold the two short ends toward the middle, then fold again so you have four layers.
Wrap in glad wrap, then chill for 30 minutes.
With the short end facing you and the seam to the right, roll the pastry out again into a large rectangle. Use the scraper to even the edges as you roll. Keep the bench floured beneath by lifting and dusting when the dough starts to grab onto the bench. Make sure you brush off any excess flour from the top before folding.
Fold again into four and chill for another 20 minutes.
Repeat the process once more (two more turns will create more layers).
Keep the pastry wrapped and chilled in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
For the hot water crust pastry:
Make this just before you want to use it.
Heat the water and lard together over medium heat until the lard has melted and the water is about to boil.
Place the flour and salt in a bowl and mix together.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the hot water/lard mix.
Incorporate the flour into the liquid until you have a ball of dough then knead the ball until it is just cohesive.
Wrap it in glad wrap until you are about to use it as it dries out quickly.
Preheat the oven to 200 deg C (fan forced)
Lightly grease 8 individual pie tins.
Roll out the hot water crust pasty on a floured bench to around 3-4mm thick and use it to line the base of the pie tins so that some pastry is hanging over the edge. (ie cut large circles or ovals depending on your tin, bigger than the actual diameter so that the sides are covered)
Use your fingers to press it all against the tin.
Trim the edges with a sharp knife.
Fill the bases with a decent mound of cooled mince filling.
Mix together one egg yolk with a splash of milk.
Brush the edges of the pastry with the yolk mixture.
Halve the puff pastry and roll out one half at a time to a thickness of 4mm.
Cut circles or ovals slightly larger than the diameter of the pie tins and lay over the top of the pies, lightly pressing the edges to seal. I choose not to crimp the edges as this can stop the pastry from puffing up on the edges.
Cut a decent slit in the top of each pie to allow the steam to escape.
Brush with the yolk mixture and decorate with leaves of pastry or other shapes if desired.
Bake at 200 deg C for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden, and piping hot in the middle.
Serve with tomato sauce or chutney - home made is great but not essential.
Oval Pie Tins available from and supplied by @bakemasterau. These tins make 8 large pies - to suit any appetite and are great at releasing the pie once it’s done without any sticking. (and minimal if any greasing)