Having just posted my stellar recipe for Argentine Empanadas, it occurred to me that there is a Down Under recipe equivalent to empanadas that is rarely seen outside Australia!
Since I have yet to show any TFD love to our brother and sisters Down Under, let me say, G’day Aussies! With that, it’s time to share my recipe for that most iconic of Australian recipes – the Aussie Meat Pie!
Down Under, meat pies are THE traditional snack while watching a football (aka soccer to us Americans) or rugby game.
My version of this iconic recipe nods even further south than the Australian mainland to the island of Tasmania, home to the Tasmanian Devil and the fantastic Tasmanian pepper, which I use to help amp up the flavor of my recipe.
BTW, Tasmanian pepper is not actually a peppercorn but has distinct peppery overtones, along with the taste of herbs, juniper, and a whole lot more. It’s classified as a “super-spice” like grains of paradise – possessing a flavor so complex it defies easy categorization.
Put simply – they’re absolutely delicious, buy them here.
Most Aussie Meat Pies are round, but I make mine rectangular, as they do in Tasmania. You can of course make them in any shape you want. 😉
This recipe calls for making your own puff pastry, but you can certainly buy a good frozen puff pastry if you prefer. I’ve cribbed the recipe for the puff pastry and crust from a famous Australian recipe, but the filling is all mine!
So, without further ado: enjoy this classic recipe of the Southern Hemisphere, Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Aussie Meat Pies: The Filling
4 slices of bacon
1 onion, chopped
2 pounds cubed beef sirloin
6 cups low-sodium canned beef stock or homemade beef stock (preferred)
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mushroom ketchup (or use Worcestershire)
1 teaspoon salt (use 2 if using homemade stock)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Tasmanian pepper, pounded in a mortar and pestle or just use regular black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano, rubbed between the palms
pinch of nutmeg
2 teaspoons thyme
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1-2 dashes hot sauce of choice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Vegemite (optional but needed for the true Aussie flavor!)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Savory Short Crust Pie Dough from Scratch:
5 ounces (10 Tablespoons) butter, cut into cubes and softened
2 cups flour, chilled
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup cold water
Puff Pastry from Scratch:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour, chilled (plus a little more for dusting)
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
¾ cup water, chilled
16 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
For the filling:
Place the bacon in a pot, fry till lightly crisp. Remove and crumble, but leave the fat in the pot. Add the onion and brown it – remove onions. Add beef and cook to lightly browned.
Add stock until it covers the meat by an inch or so.
Bring to a boil and skim the scum off the top.
Add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mushroom ketchup (if using), salt and peppers and cook on low for another hour or so.
Remove the meat and let the broth reduce on medium high heat by ⅓. Now add the herbs, nutmeg, crumbled bacon, onion and the tomato paste. Add Vegemite a little bit at a time, make sure the final taste isn’t too salty!
Add the cornstarch mixed with a bit of water and stir in to thicken.
Once the mixture is thickened, add the meat back in, add hot sauce and taste to see if you like it. If not, adapt it to your own tastes! Simmer for 10 minutes.
Set filling aside to cool. Then put your pies together and bake!
To make it into a pie:
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!
Short Crust instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the softened chunks of butter and mix together with your fingers.
Combine the vinegar with the water and add to the bowl. Mix until all ingredients are sticking together.
Place the mixture onto a counter dusted with flour, and knead the dough a few times—ONLY A FEW TIMES. It’s OK to still see streaks of butter; that’s what makes it flaky.
If you are making meat pies, divide the dough into 6 balls, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to make the pies, roll out the dough and put the crusts in the pastry dishes.
Fill with your desired filling, cover with the puff pastry (recipe to come!), and poke a hole on top.
Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes!
WARNING: Puff pastry needs at least 24 hours of advance work. Other than that, it’s not too hard.
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and toss in the butter, which should be softened slightly. Mix together gently with your fingers.
Add the vinegar to the water; add the vinegar-water to the dough and mix it together.
Put it out on the counter (with some flour to dust) and gently knead to make the dough smooth.
Flatten the dough into a round flat ball and wrap it in plastic then put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Take the 16 tablespoons of butter out of the fridge and let it soften a bit.
Get out some parchment paper and roll out the butter between the sheets to a half-inch-thick 4-inch square (or so).
Get the pastry out and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to make a 4 x 8″ rectangle. Put the butter at one end and fold it over to cover it. It’s like you are making/wrapping a butter present!
Now the fun begins (the making a book part). Roll the dough out in a long 4 x 18″ sheet. Fold both ends in toward the center as if you are making a “gatefold.” (I found that a spatula helps if it gets stuck.) And then fold it again so you have a “book.” Wrap it up in plastic and then put it in the fridge.
Wait 30 minutes and then do it again, making sure that the “spine” of the book is always on the left (that’s how you know you are rotating properly).
Now go to bed. Or whatever. Wait “24 hours,” give or take.
Do this whole rolling, folding, and wraping thing two more times (waiting 30 minutes between each). Let the dough warm up a tiny bit after you take it out from the long refrigerator rest.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before doing the final rolling and cutting for your pie lids.
Roll out for the final time. Be gentle when you cut…don’t want to smoosh all those lovely layers!
Make the lid slightly larger than your pie top because it might shrink a bit when you cook it.
Use the egg wash (1 raw beaten egg and a bit of water) to glue it together and polish the top.