Beef, Onion & Guinness Pie

11 September 2012

Post image for Beef, Onion & Guinness Pie

For many Australians, a meat pie at lunch with a good squirt of tomato sauce or ketchup is almost a daily ritual. In fact, when I lived in Australia, I often preferred a meat pie to a sandwich, the latter being something which I probably ate everyday at school and which, to this day, still brings me reminders of starched school uniforms and knee-high socks.

I previously shared with you a fabulous recipe for Little Aussie Meat Pies, a meat pie with a minced beef filling quite similar to those found in local Australian canteens and bakeries.

For something a bit more upmarket, this Beef, Onion & Guinness Pie is hard to go past. This recipe comes from Gary Mehigan, one of the judges on MasterChef Australia, and which had me salivating as I watched him make it during one of the MasterClass episodes in the recent season. You can watch the episode below … fast-forward to about 34 minutes for the segment on this recipe.

A lot of meat pie recipes call for a beef stew to be made before encasing it in shortcrust and/or puff pastry. And then there are many variations on how beef stews can be made, some using tomatoes as a base, perhaps red wine for something fancy, or an ale for a rich, dark flavour. This particular recipe uses stout (Guinness) to produce a lovely, deep gravy, which is further enriched by caramelising some onions to give sweetness and colour to the stew. The filling can be served as it is with a side of mashed potatoes for a hearty dinner, with any leftovers turned into these lovely meat pies. In fact, although the recipe states that it yields enough for 6 meat pies, I had enough for 20 pies the size of muffins, plus a family-sized pie which I made in a pie dish and covered with a layer of puff pastry.

One deviation which I made to this recipe was to add about 700 g of sliced mushrooms to the stew in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. I adore mushrooms in my meat pies, as well a generous grinding of black pepper, and couldn’t resist these additions. Also, by the time the meat was tender, I found the stew to be on the runny side and added enough cornflour (mixed with a bit of water) until the sauce was reasonably thick; a thick sauce is particularly important if you don’t want your meat pie to run everywhere if you are eating on the go.

For the meat pies, Gary Mehigan includes a recipe for Sour Cream Pastry which comes via Maggie Beer, a veteran Australian cook based in South Australia. If you have time to make your own pastry, this recipe is worth trying as it produces a very buttery pastry which works quite well with the beef stew. That said, it is a rather fatty pastry so keep that in mind if you are eating the pie with your hands – be sure to have plenty of paper towels on hand. It is a very easy pastry to work with and the recipe yielded, for me, enough for 10 muffin-sized pies. The simpler route would be to line the muffin tins with shop-bought shortcrust pastry and using shop-bought puff pastry for the lids.

To freeze the pies, ready for a quick snack or lunch at a later time, make the pies as per the recipe. Once you have covered each pie with some pastry, pop the whole muffin tin into the freezer. When the pies are frozen, remove them from the tin and place them in a zip-lock freezer bag. You can bake the pies when they are frozen (no need to defrost), brushing them with some egg-wash before popping them into the oven. They might need an extra 5 to 10 minutes of baking time.

A meat pie should typically be served with a generous dollop of tomato sauce or ketchup (especially if you are eating it sans cutlery), but this Cherry Tomato Relish is also a fabulous accompaniment.

The recipe can be found online at the MasterChef Australia website.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

narf7 11 September 2012 at 11:30 pm

And NOW we are talking! Steve (long suffering carnivore husband to vegan wife narf7) finally gets something in my rss feed reader to feed his meat loving U.K. soul! Aussies unite! We too can feed our U.K. imported husbands with good Aussie recipes that meld the finest stout with our good Aussie beef…cheers for this recipe from the bottom of my expat husbands heart :)


eat, little bird 12 September 2012 at 9:33 am

LOL!! You are more than welcome :-) Had I known, I would have shared this recipe much sooner! I frequently make beef and Guinness pies in winter, using a recipe which is quite similar to this one, though without the caramelised onions. I hope your husband will enjoy this recipe!


Eileen 12 September 2012 at 12:12 am

Tiny pies! I could definitely see making up a batch of these, freezing them, and popping them in the oven for random lunches.


eat, little bird 12 September 2012 at 12:33 pm

Freezing them is definitely a great idea! I make the pies and then put the whole muffin tin into the freezer, and when the pies themselves are frozen, I transfer them to a zip-lock freezer bag. I later bake them from frozen, brushing them with egg-wash before popping them into the oven, giving them perhaps an extra 5 minutes of baking time. They make for great snacks this way!


Kate from Food from our life 7 January 2014 at 7:46 am

Great Idea, that’s exactly what I am thinking of doing with them… Getting ready to go back to work after holidays and it’s always good to have something in the freezer to fall back on.


eat, little bird 7 January 2014 at 5:48 pm

Absolutely! I don’t tend to freeze a lot of food, but I find that pies happen to be great for freezing as they still taste great once reheated, plus you can bake them from frozen. These pies are particularly worth freezing :-)


Maggie Jaye 12 September 2012 at 12:31 am

Ohhh I long for home sweet home Aussi Pies! Canada just doesn’t cut it, but now I can make my own!! 😀


eat, little bird 12 September 2012 at 9:35 am

Can you find meat pies in Canada? You would at least be one up on Switzerland! Whenever a craving ensues, I have to make a whole batch but it’s worthwhile because you know what’s going into your pies. Although I like my homemade version, sometimes I get a craving for those Four ‘n Twenty Pies …


Caroline 12 September 2012 at 7:32 am

oh yum, these pies look really delicious! I have never made pies somehow but this post makes me want to try!
Question for you..I bought a kaffir lime tree from the same nursery you went to and it is doing really great on my balcony right now. But now the temperatures are getting much you think it’s better to bring it inside already? I am really worried about not taking good care of it because I love this little plant so is pretty AND delicious! :)


eat, little bird 12 September 2012 at 9:59 am

Making meat pies might be a bit fiddly and can take a bit of time (the stew takes a few hours to cook), but the whole process is quite simple so I hope you will give them a try soon.

As for the kaffir lime tree, I think you should be ok to leave it outside for this week. The temperatures look to be warming up during the day later in the week (about 20°C) and then dropping to about 8°C overnight. I think most books recommend that you bring citrus trees indoors when the temperatures drop below 8°C or 10°C. But if you notice that the leaves are starting to drop or curl, you should start to bring them inside right away. I think once the day temperatures start to drop significantly and the night temperatures fall below 8°C, I will bring my kaffir lime indoors.

As to where to keep them indoors, most apartments would generally be too warm for them if the central heating or heaters are on. My neighbours keep their citrus plants in the stairwell next to the window during the winter months – the temperature in the stairwell is usually much cooler than in the apartments, and the plants should receive sufficient light from the windows. I plan to do the same – hopefully there will be room for my plants!

I was thinking of doing a new gardening post soon about overwintering (caring for plants over winter). I will try to do that soon :-)


Caroline 12 September 2012 at 9:30 pm

Thanks a lot for the advice! I will leave it outdoors for now and bring it in when the night temperature starts dropping. Unfortunately I can’t keep mine in the stairwell but hopefully it will survive indoors since our apartment never gets that warm in the winter (about 20°C)..I hope so at least!
An overwintering post would be great and super useful..I am impatient to read it!


manu 12 September 2012 at 8:06 am

They’re so cute!!
Have a nice day


Mathilda 12 September 2012 at 8:18 am

Interesting, I never made or taste pies like those. I will remember them for a chilly evening this winter !


eat, little bird 12 September 2012 at 10:15 am

These meat pies are very Australian :-) I think the British also like a good pie but theirs are usually not fully encased in pastry; British pies are generally comprised of a meat stew in a pie or casserole dish, topped with a layer of pastry and baked until the pastry is golden. Either way, pies are the perfect winter food!


Sam-I-am 12 September 2012 at 8:47 am

Tahn, you even manage to make meet pies look chic!


eat, little bird 12 September 2012 at 10:16 am

LOL!! Thanks, Sam :-) I didn’t look very chic eating them, though 😉


Paula 12 September 2012 at 3:51 pm

I love meat pie, but I only have prepared it once, and it was with Guinness, as these. I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe 😉 I also made it small, with mini-cocotte, but you can be sure, mine weren’t soooo nice as yours! 😛


eat, little bird 15 September 2012 at 9:23 am

I love Jamie Oliver! So I’m sure he must have had a really good recipe. And I’m also sure that your mini pies also looked really lovely :-)


anita menon 13 September 2012 at 12:38 pm

gorgeous and petite looking pies. I can easily imagine a vegetarian rendition for the same.


eat, little bird 15 September 2012 at 9:07 am

Oh absolutely! When my parents ran a bakery when I was younger, they sold a vegetarian pie which was essentially a mix of vegetables in a thickened, flavoursome broth. There are lots of variations of pies out there, including vegetarian pies.


At Anna's kitchen table 15 September 2012 at 1:14 pm

I love pies, all kinds. Oh and pastry….what can I say, mmmmmm, sour cream pastry sounds extra mmmmmm. I’m not going to say that I’ll try them (though I wish I could) I wouldn’t be trusted round them!


eat, little bird 16 September 2012 at 12:01 pm

I think a jog around the block a few times is necessary after eating a few of these pies in one sitting 😉 But the sour cream pastry is really quick and easy to make, and a dream to roll out. I might need to play with the recipe and see if I could reduce the butter content though …


Julia 16 September 2012 at 4:53 am

What a great idea to use a muffin pan for the meat pies!


eat, little bird 16 September 2012 at 12:02 pm

These meat pies are almost the size of party pies which they sell in Australia. Otherwise, you could use standard pie tins, but muffin pans are much easier.


my honest answer 17 September 2012 at 2:21 pm

These look great! My husband has a meat pie at work most days, I would love to be able to send him with one I’d made for the money saving and the health benefits of knowing exactly what was in it. Could you cook these, then freeze them, then eat them cold? I’m wondering if I could bake up a batch, and send one with him each morning. Thanks so much!


eat, little bird 17 September 2012 at 3:39 pm

I agree that one of the main advantages of making your own meat pies is knowing exactly what goes into them, and I guess the same can be said for everything else homemade, too. You could certainly make and bake these meat pies in advance and freeze them, but I’m not sure about eating them cold. I think meat pies definitely taste better warm or hot. If your husband has access to a microwave at work, he could heat these up really quickly.


Rushi 24 September 2012 at 1:24 pm

I must make these soon, my hubby would start worshipping me if I do :)


eat, little bird 28 September 2012 at 8:25 pm

If your husband is a meat pie kind of guy, definitely make these soon! :-)


Kate from Food from our life 7 January 2014 at 7:44 am

Hi there,

I am thinking of making these as a healthier alternative to bought nibble pies. Given there’s already a litre of beef stock in them, what do you think I could substitute for the Guinness? More stock or just water.

Thanks in advance. Kate


eat, little bird 7 January 2014 at 5:46 pm

I would simply substitute the Guinness for more stock. You won’t get that lovely flavour from the Guinness but making this stew with just beef stock would still taste really lovely.


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