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.