Little Aussie Meat Pies

28 January 2012

Post image for Little Aussie Meat Pies

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.

This recipe comes from Katie Quinn Davies of the ever-inspiring food photography blog, What Katie Ate, and which is published on the  Real Food website. Below is my adaptation.

Ingredients
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

shortcrust pastry
puff pastry
1 egg
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.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline 28 January 2012 at 11:36 am

Oh looks DELICIOUS!!!! Thanh! A shot of a half eaten one! Surely you must have one with it cut open..am desperate to see into it!! With the curry powder, am sure I will love these! Beautiful photos ;-))

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eat, little bird 28 January 2012 at 11:44 am

I’m afraid there’s none left! ;-) Though, I’m continuing the Australia Day celebrations this weekend and am making more meat pies …

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Caroline 28 January 2012 at 11:49 am

You ate them ALL???

Good lass!!!! :P

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Me and My Sweets 28 January 2012 at 11:39 am

I’m getting hungry!! :-) Those meat pies looks sooo tasty!!Thanks for sharing.

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eat, little bird 28 January 2012 at 11:45 am

Well it is about lunch time now … I could do with a meat pie myself if there were any left!

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Sam-I-am 29 January 2012 at 10:38 am

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! That is all there is to say, these are beautiful! I love the filling you chose because for me, like everyone I suppose, when I read a list of ingredients, a small flag goes up in my head telling me ‘this is a winner!’ when a certain ingredient is included. So as the curry powder attracted you to this recipe (and I would have to agree with you there!), the Worcestershire Sauce on the list set off my taste buds and dilated my pupils!
I agree with Caroline, dying to see the inside of these little gems. What exactly is their diameter Creme? Do you bake them in a regular muffin pan?

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eat, little bird 29 January 2012 at 10:44 am

Hello Sami! Oh Worcestershire sauce is also something on my radar :-) It’s nice when you can gauge from the recipe if it will work or not … I’m sure it’s a natural talent for you but I’m only getting better at it now!

Yes, these are baked just in a regular muffin pan. In Australia, they would be called “party pies”, but they are more commonly sold as pretty big meat pies, about 10-12cm in diameter, for a more substantial meal.

I should confess that these photos were taken some time ago (you can peek at my FB album); I made them again this week with the intention of taking updated photos but they disappeared too quickly!

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The Food Sage 29 January 2012 at 10:48 am

Can’t beat a good pie. I especially love it when you can taste buttery pastry as well as the filling. All too often the pastry is an afterthought – when it is really a star in its own right! This recipe sounds delicious. I feel a pie cook-a-thon coming on!

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eat, little bird 29 January 2012 at 1:17 pm

Oh yes, good pastry is a must! To that end, I quite prefer the smaller pies – more ratio of pastry to meat :-)

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Anita Menon 29 January 2012 at 11:26 am

They look perfect. Such neat presentation. I hope to do a vegetarian version or will that be blasphemous?

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eat, little bird 29 January 2012 at 1:19 pm

Oooh … a meat pie without meat would not be a “meat pie”, if you know what I mean ;-) But you can definitely find vegetarian pies which are essentially mixed chopped vegetables (carrots, peas, cauliflower, potato) cooked in either a thickened stock or thickened cream sauce and then encased in pastry. My mum used to make those in the bakery and they were quite delicious, especially with a good squirt of Heinz tomato sauce :-)

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Liz Headon 30 January 2012 at 10:13 am

Those look gorgeous ! Your choice of filling wouldn;t be mine, but as a concept, and a basic recipe… I love little meat pies (and big ones !)

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eat, little bird 31 January 2012 at 5:24 pm

Is that because of the curry powder, Liz? Or just minced meat in general? I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of minced meat, but in small doses, it’s ok :-)

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Liz Headon 1 February 2012 at 5:50 pm

Yes, partly the curry powder, of course, but I’m also not a fan of barbecue sauce. It’s one of those “I can eat it but I’d never choose it unless there was nothing else” type of things. It would be an easy recipe to customise though, using flavourings and sauce to suit.

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Billie 31 January 2012 at 5:21 pm

Very much enjoying your Australian dishes. Party pies are little morsels of heaven.

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eat, little bird 31 January 2012 at 5:26 pm

I’m so happy to hear that, Billie! :-) I can never say no to a party pie … I would love to recreate the Four ‘n Twenty Pies at home but these come close.

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Joyce 8 April 2012 at 9:49 am

I’m an Aussie living abroad too, and I just saw the photograph of these “Aussie Meat Pies” on Pinterest. My heart went a flutter….. I ate meat pies as a child and loved them. I stay clear of (deny myself) pastry these days, but your article did bring memories flooding back to me. Am looking forward to a trip home in May so maybe, just maybe I’ll indulge. Thank you for the lovely photographs and delicious recipe.

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eat, little bird 8 April 2012 at 12:35 pm

Hi Joyce! I’m happy to hear that these meat pies brought back some good memories :-) I get a craving for them now and then and end up having to make a whole batch! Not so good for the hips but they are so good as a snack. Whenever we visit Australia, I also try to sneak in a pie or two, plus some other junk food which I seem to miss. It’s funny the types of food that you miss when you live abroad but it makes you appreciate Australia more, I think :-)

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piedpiper 7 June 2012 at 1:57 pm

They look unbelievable, lovely photos and I tried the recipe, its beaut. I didn’t prick the pastry bases and got a bit of a soggy bottom. Does this help much with the cooking process? I must admit I’m more of a pie fan than a pie chef, but I’m slowly learning. I was wondering if there’s any way of getting round the blind baking, as I’m always stuck for time and usually just want to scoff the mixture by the time I get the bases cooked.

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eat, little bird 7 June 2012 at 3:27 pm

Glad you liked the recipe! If you’re after a pie with a crisp base, there’s no getting around the blind-baking, unfortunately. You can certainly skip the blind-baking, but your base will be paler in colour and not as crisp, though they shouldn’t be soggy. Make sure that your filling is completely cool before you start assembling the pies – even a slightly warm filling will make the pastry go soggy.

And pricking the pastry bases with a fork stops the pastry from rising as it bakes, thereby giving you a flattish surface to pour the filling on top.

Hope these tips will help you!

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Sue 17 October 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hey there! These sound awesome. I like your idea if freezing a few. Do you bake them all, the cool, freeze and defrost when needed, then reheat for 15 minutes or so in the oven, or do you freeze before baking and cook from frozen, but for longer? Thanks. :-)

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eat, little bird 17 October 2012 at 11:06 pm

Hi Sue,

If I were to make these pies to freeze, I would skip the blind-baking of the pastry, although you could still go ahead with this step if you wish.

So I would cut out the pastry cases and line the muffin tins, fill each pastry case with the meat filling, top with a pastry lid and then put the whole muffin tin into the freezer. When the pies have frozen, remove them from the muffin tin and place them into a zip-lock freezer bag.

When you are ready to bake them, I would brush the frozen pies with egg-wash before putting them into the oven, and give them perhaps an extra 5 minutes or so in the oven for the filling to fully heat through and for the pastry to bronze.

This is what I do whenever I make a large batch of meat pies or sausage rolls.

If you have some baked pies leftover, I find that they keep well in the fridge and can be reheated in the oven without too much problem, although the pastry and filling will be a little drier than when freshly baked. They will still taste great and this is what a lot of bakeries do anyway with leftover pies.

I hope this helps!

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Ilona 31 January 2014 at 8:51 am

Loved reading this post after I came back from travelling Australia for 6 weeks. Especially the idea of making little meatpies in a muffin tin! I made them, with a beef stew filling, last Sunday;

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