“Classic Aussie meat pies – in mini form made in muffin tins!”
In the lead up to Australia Day on 26 January 2015, I’m going to share a series of classic Aussie fare. And I can’t think of anything more quintessentially “Aussie” than meat pies. Meat pies are to Australians what hot dogs are to Americans. You can’t go to a footy game here without being surrounded by blokes (and some lasses….) boisterously cheering on their teams with a pie in one hand and a beer in the other. Crumbs down their shirt, tomato sauce smeared around their mouth….I’m painting a classy picture of Aussie blokes, aren’t I??!
OK, so I’m exaggerating a wee bit. Not all Aussie blokes are like that. But you get the picture.
Every time I have a pie, I’m reminded of childhood outings to places like the zoo and aquarium where we’d be treated with a pie for lunch. My brother, sister and I would sit, lined up on a bench (or, more likely, just sit on the ground somewhere), peel off the pastry lid, mix tomato sauce (ketchup) into the filling and impatiently wait for it to cool down enough so we could start digging in. We’d eat the filling with a plastic spoon which was not only practical, but also meant we got to save the best for last – the pastry.
I still eat my pies with a spoon. In private.
The pies you typically get at footy games and bakeries are the larger size ones – around 10cm/4″ in diameter. But I’m particularly fond of party pies – small ones that are made in muffin tins rather than having to get special pie tins to make the larger ones. Plus they are easier to eat without a plate.
Though this recipe is really easy to make, it does take time. Honestly, the first time I made this I was a bit cynical about whether it would be worth the effort. Because you can get really great quality party pies nowadays, not only from the supermarket but also from bakeries.
I swear to you, it is worth the effort. So. Dang. Good. And it tastes real. I can never describe it exactly. I guess it’s the flavour of preservative-free food? I don’t know. All I know is that it’s worth the effort.
PS. This makes a big batch because I find it hard to braise a smaller amount of beef and make a good sauce. Plus they freeze so well, I figure you may as well make a lot while you’re at it!
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3lb / 1.5kg chuck steak, cut into 1cm / 2/5" cubes (or other beef cut suitable for slow cooking)
- 2 onions, peeled and diced (brown, yellow or white)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 cups / 1 litre / 1 quart beef stock/broth
- 1 cup red wine (anything dry and dark, not light like pinot noir)
- 2 dried bay leaves (or 3 fresh)
- 1½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp cornstarch (cornflour)
- 4 tbsp water
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (or 1 whole egg, for a slightly less dark golden finish)
- 4 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry (25cm x 25cm / 10" x 10"), thawed
- 3 - 4 sheets frozen puff pastry (25cm x 25cm / 10" x 10"), thawed (Note 1)
- Tomato Sauce / Tomato Ketchup
- Place 1 tbsp of oil in a large heavy based pot over high heat. Add half the beef and sear until the outside is lightly browned. Remove from the pot into a bowl and repeat with remaining beef.
- Lower the heat to medium high and add the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent - around 5 minutes.
- Return the beef to the pot along with all other Filling ingredients other than the cornstarch / cornflour and water. Mix to combine. The liquid should be just enough to cover most of the beef but there should be a bit protruding through the surface.
- Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to low / medium low so it is bubbling very gently. Leave to cook for 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until the beef is very tender. Because the beef is cut so small, it shouldn't take much longer than 1 hour. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, just add a bit more water.
- When the beef is ready (or almost ready), mix the cornstarch / cornflour and water together then pour it into the pot. Mix through and allow to cook for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce. Adjust salt to taste.
- Remove pot from the stove and set aside to cool. The sauce will thicken more when it cools.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
- Spray 16 holes of Texas muffin tins or pie tins (8cm / 3.2" diameter across top). I made half in muffin tins and half in pie tins.
- Cut the pastry base out of the shortcrust pastry using a 10 cm/ 4" round cutter (I use an empty 800g/14oz canned tomato tin - perfect size). This fits both the pie and muffin tins.
- Press the rounds into the tins and fill to the brim with the Filling.
- Cut the pie tops out of the puff pastry using a 8 cm / 3.2" round cutter (a scone cutter is the perfect size).
- Place the lids on top of the filling, gently pressing to try to join the top with the casing.
- Pearce the lids 3 or 4 times with a small knife. Brush with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until dark golden brown (or deep golden brown if you used a whole egg for the wash).
- Allow to rest for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve very warm with tomato sauce (tomato ketchup).
2. These freeze well after baking. You can reheat them from frozen, or thaw them first.
I have estimated the pastry that is discarded when the rounds are cut out in determining the nutrition analysis.