1. Shortcrust pastry - options:
- make 1 1/2 batches of homemade shortcrust pastry
(click Servings and slide to scale recipe). Roll out to 2 - 3mm / 1/10" thick then cut rounds. Make sure it's not paper thin because otherwise it won't be strong enough to withhold all the filling!
Frozen shortcrust pastry - comes in 20cm/8" square sheets here in Australia. Thaw then line up to overlap edges slightly and press down to seal edges (to make one long sheet, reduces waste). Cut rounds.
Refrigerated rolled pie crusts (US/Can) - such as Pillsbury. Unroll and cut rounds as required by this recipe. Press together scraps if needed to make enough rounds. Pack will probably say no pre-baking required before filling. For this recipe, pre-baking is recommended to avoid soggy base (meat pies are meant to be eaten by hand!)
Cutting rounds - Use tape measure to measure from edge to edge of pie tin, pressing down into the dish. Then find anything that is around that size - I used a saucepan lid!
Make sure rounds are big enough so it covers the lip of the pie tin as well - better to have pastry too large than too small, it will shrink slightly.
2. Puff pastry here in Australia comes in 20cm/8" square sheets. I get 2 lids out of each so there is quite a bit of leftover from each sheet. Quick ways to use up scraps:
- Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, cut sticks/shapes bake until golden. Try garlic butter, sprinkle with parmesan and pepper, or dukkdah or zaatar. Or just bake sticks plain and use as dippers with soups or stews.
3. Beef - chuck beef nicely marble with fact is ideal for this recipe. Boneless short rib also works great. Do not try this with gravy beef - too lean. See note below for beef mince.
4. Beef stock - recipe doesn't use much beef stock because I find that store bought beef stock can give the filling a slight artificial flavour edge, also can make it too salty because the liquid is reduced down and concentrated. Flavour base relies heavily on the browning of the beef + wine + slow cooking.
5. Red wine
- merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, shiraz, Burgundy, Zinfandel, malbec, Tempranillo all good here. Avoid sweet ones and light reds like pinot noirs, Grenache. Use this chart
as a guide - anything from Merlot or bolder will be great!
I know this sounds like a lot of wine but the slow cooking cooks out the wine flavour and alcohol, plus the sauce reduces down a lot into a rich, deeply flavoured gravy. Using too much beef stock isn't ideal here because once reduced, the flavour is too strong.
6. Pie tins
- I used pie tins from Woolies (Australia), 10 cm / 4". Can also make them in ramekins (this is what I used to do before I got pie tins), Texas muffin tins (the large ones), mini pies in normal muffin tins (then it's Party Pies
!) or one large pie dish (use leftover filling to make pie triangles using puff pastry!).
Fitting pastry into pie tins - drape and gently push in, do not stretch and pull pastry (this will cause pastry to shrink when it bakes).
7. Pie weights - heatproof marble size beads that weigh down the pastry to stop it from puffing and shrinking while it bakes. Sub with dried rice, dried beans or similar (save to reuse again as pie weights).
8. Pastry 2nd bake - this is just to dry the base out and make it crisp, if not needed then skip the 2nd pastry bake.
9. Beef mince - old school meat pies are made with beef mince but chunky style are more highly regarded for flavour and eating experience! Can't get the same browning with mince, hence why sauce flavour is not quite as good. To make super tasty beef mince meat pies - completely skip salt, use beef cube and dark soy instead (doesn't taste Asiany, adds flavour and colour to sauce otherwise it's a pale unappetising brown colour):
- Cook onion and garlic, then add 1.3 kg / 2.6lb beef mince (ground beef) and brown
- Add flour and remaining ingredients per recipe including pepper but DO NOT ADD SALT
- Add 1 beef cube, crumbled
- Simmer gently, covered, for 1 hr 20 minutes
- Uncover and reduce for 20 minutes
- Add up to 1 tsp dark soy sauce to make the sauce colour a nice brown and add flavour (soy has more flavour than plain salt), simmer for 5 min. Add normal salt if you want it saltier.
- Cool then use as filling per recipe.
10. Storage - Cooked pies keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, best to give it a quick microwave to warm the centre then pop in the oven for 5 minutes at 180C/350F to crisp pastry. OR wrap in cling wrap then freeze cooked pies, thaw then reheat in oven at 180C/350F for 20 minutes until centre is piping hot. Can also freeze pies once filled and topped with raw uncooked puff pastry.
11. Nutrition per pie. Best estimate taking into account unused pastry, erred on the high side to be conservative.