It's not as easy as you might think to find the ultimate Aussie meat pie recipe, and to then merge it with other flavors to match the taste of the Royal Sydney Easter Agricultural Show top prizewinning meat pie from Mick's Bakery I had in Sydney.
That pie was soft, crunchy, peppery, yummy goodness filled with meat and gravy. It was unlike anything I'd had in the States. The crust was softer than that of a chicken potpie crust here. You could pop it out of its baking container and hold it in your hands, if you so chose.
Popular chain brands like Pie Face don't really do the Aussie pie justice. And even the gourmet brand that shall not be named in Chelsea Market is really not that good. Its crust is too hard and dry. A good meat pie should feel soft and be...just absolutely yum.
And THEN I remembered that we have a new employee at Rodale Inc. who doesn't just hail from Australia, but had been with the World's Best Food Magazine, Donna Hay! Fortunately, she'd just unpacked and was able to share the meat pie recipe from her favorite bakery in Sydney, Bourke Street. Thank you, Melanie Hansche!
I also consulted my Australian friend Marg Haymanson, who sent me her favorite recipe--which gave me the idea to use the Worcestershire sauce. And yes, people, when I want something I do not settle for less until I get it! Marg also adds curry powder to her pies, which sounds good, too. The truth is you can stuff these pies with anything once you understand the basic recipe. Thank you, Marg!
But wait! When I made the recipe from Bourke Street Bakery, the crusts were amazing (yes, there are two kinds of crust: a short crust for the base and puff pastry for the top), but the insides were still not quite right. Too many vegetables! Not enough black pepper! Too "gourmet"! Plus, the quantities were for, like, 12 pies, which is a lot--even for my two girls and me to tackle. Hence, I adapted everything to my own tastes and for smaller quantities.
Because there are three separate recipes involved (filling, short crust, and puff pastry), I'm going to run the full recipe over three blogs.
Part I will be for the filling and the basic pie process (if you can't wait to make your own puff pastry, go out and buy some!). Next will come the puff pastry (Part II), and then the short crust (Part III). So, stay tuned!
Apparently, many Aussies put "catsup" on their pies...I did not find it necessary. Especially with this recipe:
Aussie Meat Pies, Part I: The Filling
Makes roughly 6 pies
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped--optional! (I skipped it)
- 2 pounds beef cubes or ground beef (I used beef sirloin cubes, which were great)
- 6 to 8 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- Place the olive oil and onion in a pot. Add the meat and brown it.
- Add water until it covers the meat by an inch or so. Bring to a boil and skim the scum off the top (sorry, but that's what it looks like).
- Add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper and cook on low for another hour or so.
- Remove the meat and let the broth thicken.
- Add the cornstarch mixed with a bit of water and stir in to thicken.
- Once the mixture is thickened, add the meat back in, and taste to see if you like it. If not, adapt to your own tastes!
- Set filling aside to cool. Then put your pies together and bake!
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll out the short crust and fill individual pie containers.
- Add the filling.
- Cut the puff pastry for the top.
- Use an egg wash (1 raw egg beaten with a bit of water) to glue the top and sides together and coat the top crust lightly.
- Poke a hole in the top crust so steam can escape.
- Bake for about 35 minutes!
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com