You can’t get more Aussie than the meat pie.
Those who know me would probably be surprised that I would even venture near something that can only be applied to the face with your hands (no knife and fork, please), but the truth is, I have a soft spot for anything that has to do with puff pastry.
Bakeries throughout Australia serve up a variety of meat pies, typically made with a mince beef filling with some variations on offer, such as with mushrooms or onions, a cheesy pie lid, or perhaps with chunks of beef for something wonderful like a steak and pepper pie. As someone who grew up in a family-run bakery, I have sampled my fair share of meat pies and like mine with a good amount of gravy in the filling (nevermind any dribbles – that’s what napkins are for), with some mushy peas under the lid and generous dollop of Heinz tomato sauce on top.
Since moving to Switzerland, the absence of meat pies at lunch has often been felt, despite the more healthy and equally delicious local fare on offer. So I like to make a batch of meat pies now and then, squirrelling some away in the freezer for those times when only a hot meat pie will do.
In experimenting with different pie fillings, I have found that most recipes require you to make a beef stew of sorts. Some have worked out beautifully and I hope to share those recipes here on this blog soon. But I came across this particular recipe some time ago for a mince meat filling, the unusual ingredient (for me) being curry powder. And it really works. It is the ingredient which lifts the mince meat filling to something on par with the iconic meat pie that you will find from any good bakery in Australia.
1 brown onion, finely chopped
5 rashers of bacon, thinly sliced
500 g (1 lb) minced beef
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce (such as Heinz)
1 heaped teaspoon curry powder (I used green curry powder)
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Sea salt and ground white pepper
250 ml (1 cup) beef stock
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon milk
poppy seeds or sesame seeds
Heat a frying pan over medium heat and gently cook the onions in some oil and with a sprinkle of sea salt until they are soft. Add the bacon and continue cooking until the bacon is crispy. Add the minced beef and cook until the beef is well browned. Add the Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, curry powder, ground nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well and then add the beef stock. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and then mix it in well. Simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F).
Lightly grease a muffin tin. Cut the shortcrust pastry into rounds large enough to fill the muffin holes. Place the shortcrust pastry into the muffin holes and prick the base with a fork. Place a muffin case (preferably plain) on top of the shortcrust pastry and fill each muffin case with some baking beads or rice grains. Blind bake the pastry for about 10 minutes.
Fill the pastry cases with the filling. Cut pastry lids from the puff pastry and top each pie. Whisk together the egg and milk to make the egg wash and brush the top of each pie. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.
Makes at least 12 meat pies.