Saturday, July 14, 2007
There are few things more Aussie than a meat pie. Unless it’s a meat pie consumed while wearing shorts and thongs after playing a game of cricket on the beach, or in your mate’s quiet street. Or eaten during half-time at the footy and washed down with a beer.
The humble meat pie is an Australian icon – a beacon of hope whether you’re hungry or hungover – wrapped in pastry and smothered in tomato sauce (no ketchup in sight!) Mashed potatoes, peas and gravy sometimes make an appearance. When done properly, it is a beautiful thing.
But sadly, it is not too often that a meat pie is truly done properly. Meat pies are mass-produced and sold frozen, with who knows what inside. There have been horror stories of scary meat pie surprises, if the fat content alone wasn’t enough to turn a girl off them.
It had been a long time since I had a pie. When I was flicking through my copy of Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 1, the perfect golden pastry of her meat pie caught my eye. Reading the recipe, I thought, now this is more like it! Lean steak, cubed and stewed in red wine and stock, thickened later into delicious meaty gravy. I added bacon, but anything goes – mushrooms, vegetables, small cubes of potato. This was my first attempt at a pie from scratch ever and it worked out beautifully.
Recipe adapted from Donna Hay
• 2 cups flour
• 145g cold butter
• 5-7 tablespoons cold water
• Puff Pastry (I used store bought)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 ½ onions, chopped
• 1 kg blade steak, cut into small cubes
• 6 rashers bacon, finely sliced
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 4 cups beef stock
• 1 cup red wine
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons flour or cornflour
• ¼ cup water
• sea salt and cracked black pepper
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
1. To make the filling, heat the oil in a saucepan or large frying pan over high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, until soft. Add bacon and cook until crispy, then add the meat and cook until brown.
2. Add the tomato paste, stock, wine and Worcestershire sauce to the pan and simmer, uncovered for one hour or until the meat is tender.
3. In the meantime, make shortcrust pastry. In a stand mixer (with hook attachment) or food processor, mix flour and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water, and mix until the dough is smooth and comes away from the bowl. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Blend the cornflour/flour and water to a smooth paste. Add it to the beef mixture while it is simmering rapidly on high heat. Stir until the mixture has thickened and returned to a simmer. Add salt and pepper and then set aside to cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)
6. Roll out the shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface to 3mm. Cut out pie bases (1 large and four small, or 6 medium). Blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove baking weights and spoon in the filling. Roll out the puff pasty and cut out lids for each pie.
7. Place on top and press edges of the pastry together. Brush the tops with the egg and make a slit in the tops.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Serve with mashed potatoes, peas and gravy.