Today, We are going to learn and prepare the most traditional and classic Australian dish i.e. “Meat Pie Recipe”. I have explored many types of meat pies around the globe but Australian Meat Pie is something great and tasty, attracted and inspired me to share my views here. Now, it it has become one of my favorite meat pies. It is great top enjoy by both young and old and come in different sizes from individual sizes to family sizes. This dish is also referred by some people as “National Dish of Australia”.
What is an Australian Meat Pie?
Australian Meat Pie, an Aussie iconic food in Australia that has a short crust with filling. In simple words, it is a hand sized meat pie stuffed with chunks of steak, diced or minced meat, onions, and sometimes with cheese and mushrooms. The short crust is made of using puff pastry and crust pastry base. Aussie meat pie is also a most famous dish in neighboring country, New Zealand. It is often consumed by people as a take away snack.
The dish was former described by Bob Carr, Former New South Wales Premier as Australia’s National Dish in 2003. On the other hand, New Zealanders consider the dish as New Zealand National Identity since it is the part of New Zealand Cuisine. The meat pies are humble iconic food as Aussie as that and simple Australian’s answer to American’s love to hamburgers.
Australian’s are the biggest consumers of meat pies and it has been stable since 1960’s with over 250,000,000 eaten annually. But the type of meat used for stuffing is changed significantly and the data is found clearly explained by Australian Bureau of of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
According to the study and research done by the Ian Arthur on “The Meat Pie: Australia’s Own Fast Food” for Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology (ASHET), some interesting facts have come out. We have rounded it off for you to understand better.
- The meat pie was first developed during second century AD for the purpose of holding cooked meat.
- The short crust made of pastry is the idea came into picture to serve the purpose of cooking the meat in.
- During middle ages, the meat pie was available with pie vendors on the streets, later they hit the Australian stores at the time of First Fleet.
- Since there were plenty of meat and meat varieties available in Australia, Sydney people worked on meat pies very early on.
- The first large Pie Makers are from “Sargents”. Sargents, a commercial pie factory or bakery in Sydney’s Pitt Street and the owner to this factory was George Sargent.
The traditional Australian Meat Pie is about 6 inches (15cm) in diameter, topped with tomato sauce, and large enough to fit in one’s hand. The stuffing is usually with minced or steaks of chicken, pork, and meat in a thick gravy.
Where to buy an Australian Meat Pie?
The yummy Meat Pies are found everywhere and mostly at bakeries and take away shops. It is sold in a traditional way i.e. hot with tomato sauce and ready to eat, packed in a paper bag. Traditionally, they are also served at pie stalls and shops arranged at Agricultural meetings and shows, Football matches, and other such places where people congregate. Also, many places from San Francisco to NYC sell Australian Meat Pies. In fact, Australian meat pies have become Aussies iconic fast food in the company of Mexico’s Taco, America’s hamburger, Britain’s Fish and Chips, and Italy’s Pizza.
They often found at school canteens, cafeteria’s, gas stations, stadiums, corner stores, take away’s, events, and more! Actually, you can make this classic dish at home as it is easy to prepare with simple ingredients. The home made ones tastes much better and especially delicious when made with red wine and fresh rosemary.
I already told you right, Aussies are the biggest consumers of meat pies! And this is proved by ‘Four n Twenty’, that produces 50,000 meat pies every hour. You can imagine the demand for pies in Australia! Mostly frozen meat pies are available in the grocery stores and stores like Four n Twenty and Sargents but they are the branded meat pies.
Which type of meat is best to enjoy Meat Pies?
The major content in Australian Meat Pies is ‘Beef Meat’. Yes, Australians most commonly use beef meat to fill the meat pie along with other savory ingredients. Beef meat is used come in a variety of styles and forms while using in pies that includes skirt steak, steak and onion, beef with veggies, beef with tomato and onion, etc. Beef Skirt Steak is the most flavorful variety among all the other forms of beef which is also used most commonly in making stir fries and Fajitas. Chuck Steaks are also commonly used in meat pies but these come in chicken and lamb meats. Some people like chicken with vegetables and other savories.
A small caution to American, Aussie, and other Friends around the Globe: Usually people get confused with the American pot pie and Aussie meat pie. Let us learn why people often get confused between these two!!
American Pot Pie is available at any grocery store in the frozen food section. It is available in a foil pie pan such that it is easy to cook it in. As the crust pastry is too thin to pick it up, use forks to eat it up. Where as Australian meat pie is also available in frozen section at all grocery stores but without pie pan. To cook it, we need to bake it by placing straight on to the baking sheet (cooking tray). It is easy to pick it up with your hands when it gets cooled off, because the crust pastry is thick enough to hold and eat.
There are many types of Australian meat pie recipes and here i am going to tell you a few my favorite ways to make a delicious meat pie.
Ingredients to fill
1. 1kg or 2 pounds chuck or round steak trimmed
2. 2-3 Bacon or Beef slices (rashers) chopped
3. 1 1/2 large onion peeled and finely chopped
4. 1/4 teaspoon Thyme
5. 13 fl.oz. or 375 ml water
6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
7. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8. 2 table spoons all purpose plain flour
Instructions to fill the Meat Pie
1. Firstly, prepare as many as you want individual pies. We have shown the measurements for making 6 individual meat pies. Size should be of 15 cm or 6 inches in diameter.
2. Now remove all the fat if any getting attached to the meat. Then cube the meat into about 3/4 inch or 1 1/2 cm pieces.
3. Saute the bacon slices and finely chopped onions until they turn soft and then add cubed meat to it. Frying these ingredients adds more flavor and taste to the recipe.
4. Now let us enhance the taste more and more by adding seasonings. We are seasoning with salt, pepper, and thyme along with required or mentioned amount of water. Cover it up with a lid and let it cook for an hour. I knew 1 hour is too long to wait but you had to wait to enjoy yummy and delicious meat pies!
5. Meanwhile, we will prepare a mixture using the plain flour. Take another bowl and flour in it. Add water slowly to make a runny, smooth mixture. It should not be too thick like a dough.
6. Once your flour mixture is ready, just pour it into the bowl where meat mixture is cooking slowly and by stirring until the whole mixture gets thickened. If you see mixture getting thick, then switch off the flame and let it cool.
7. TIP: Make sure the filling mixture is cold before you spoon it into the prepared shell. Because the hot mixture of filling results in soggy and oily crust.
How to make the perfect crust for preparing meat pies?
Pastry Bottom Method
1. 2 cups or 300 gr all purpose or plain flour
2. A pinch of salt to taste
3. 2 ounces or 65 gr of butter or margarine
4. 5 1/2 fluid ounces or 155 ml of cold water
5. 1 1/2 tea spoons vinegar or lemon juice
Instructions to Prepare
1. Take a bowl and add required amount of flour and salt into it. Now, cut the margarine or butter into the flour until nicely mixed with the flour.
2. Add water to the dough while adding vinegar or lemon juice is optional to make a lighter pastry.
3. Now gently place the dough on the surface sprinkled with flour lightly and keep it in mind that handle the dough smoothly to avoid hardening of dough due to overwork on it.
4. Let the dough sit for 20-30 minutes and then make 4 mm thick rolls out of it.
Pastry Top Method
1 packet commercial and thawed puff pastry pack available at grocery stores
The Pie Method
1. Line up 6 small pie dishes and fill them up with cooled meat mixture.
2. Take out the 4 mm thick puff pastry rolls and cut out 6 pie tops.
3. Rim of the pies are usually dry in nature so we need to moisten them in order to get our pies out of it so easily. We do this step using milk or beaten egg such that the tops will stick to that.
4. Now it is time to place our cut pastry circles on top of top of each pie. This seems like a lid and cut off the excess.
5. Using fork press the edges together in order to seal it. Also make a hole in the center of the pie such that we are creating way for the steam to escape.
We use baking method to cook the pies. So, bake the pies at 180 degree centigrade or 375 degree Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes. Or you can bake until the pies turn brown color. That’s it! Yummy and delicious meat pies are ready to serve hot with tomato sauce on top of it.
Hope you understand all the ingredients and method and also enjoyed the recipe. Wanna try something different!? Then try Aussie pie floater, nothing but a meat pie served in a bowl of pea soup which is very delicious and tastier. Try it and enjoy the taste.
Second Method of making Meat Pies
As I already told you that meat pies tastes more like a heaven when you prepare it with rosemary and red wine. Here is the recipe for you!! Have a look.
Suitable for Course: As a lunch, dinners, and for picnic foods as well
Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hr
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Baking Time: 15-20 minutes
Servings: 4 Persons
Cuisine: Australian and New Zealand
1. 2 sheets of frozen short crust puff pastry
2. 2 plain frozen puff pastry
3. 1 1/2 large onions diced
4. 3 cloves garlic
5. 750 gr or 1 1/2 lbs steak cubed into small pieces
6. 1 1/2 tablespoon tomato sauce
7. 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh and chopped rosemary
8. 3/4 cup red wine
9. 1 3/4 cup beef stock
10. 1 beaten egg
11. Salt and pepper (according to taste)
12. Oil for frying
13. 2 table spoons Worcestershire stock
14. 1 1/2 table spoon water for slurry
15. 1 1/2 table spoon corn starch
Instruction s to Prepare
Step-1: Preheat the oven to 180 degree centigrade or 350 degree Fahrenheit
Step-2: In a sauce pan, take little oil and fry diced onions and garlic for few minutes until they become soft and translucent. Then add the cubed beef pieces (cube meat pieces after removing the fat content) until it turns brown. It just takes 5-10 minutes on medium flame so keep an eye while sauteing meat pieces.
Step-3: Now it’s time to add our magic ingredients that gives completely a new and delicious taste to our meat pie recipe. They are nothing but beef stock, tomato paste, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, red wine. After adding all these ingredients, simmer for 1 hour.
Step-4: Make a slurry using cornstarch and water. Add the slurry to the meat mixture and cook until it becomes thick. Also add salt and pepper to the mixture and let it cool before you proceed to next step. You can use your refrigerator for cooling in case you are running out of time.
Step-5: Once the mixture is cooled, place the short crust pastry on the counter top and the pie bases upside down on the pastry. You can use pie bases as a guide to cut the pies in to our required shape but the tip here is cut the pie pastry slightly larger than the pie base.
Step-6: Using the same method, cut the puff pastry same size as the pie base. Consider this as your pie top.
Step-7: Take out the pie dish and grease the edges of pie dish with milk or beaten egg. Now place the short crust pastry and fill the pie with beef chunks. Cover the puff pastry top and press the edges using fork to seal. Trim off the excess dough on the edges after covering.
Step-8: Now put the meat pies into the pre-heated oven and bake the pies for 30 minutes or until they turn brown in color.
Step-9: This would be the easy and most awaiting step among all other steps i.e. Serve the hot meat pies topped with tomato ketchup. Enjoy the yummy and delicious MEAT PIES.
Tips for Meat Pie Recipe
- Prefer to use individual Pie pans and grease to avoid stickiness while removing steak pies.
- You can also use individual non-stick pie pan.
- Your filling is basically a casserole/beef stew so any cuts that suits slow cooking method are great while mixing.
- You need to remove any fat before and after cooking because your mouth filling with fat while eating meat pies does not tastes good. You can see a plenty of fat in the gravy already so no need of excess fat getting into your mouth and stomach.
- Beef slices need to be cooked completely before using it in making meat pies.
- A meat pie is said to be good only when the meat is connected with the correct consistency of gravy. The gravy should not be watery.
- Puff or flaky pastry works effectively to hold the ingredients together.
- Avoid the strong flavored seasonings because no body wants to miss the beef and pastry taste. Over dosing of strong flavors make the beef taste less dominant after meat pie is cooked.
- Place a slice of tasty cheese or an extra generous serving of cracked pepper on top of the filling before you attach the lid. It enhances the taste than regular ones.
- Finally, a respectable meat pie, no matter what type of pie it is, the taste should be enjoyed and celebrated like a piece of art. It should be rolled freely in between the fingers for the whole world to see.
In the both recipes, we have Tomato paste and Tomato ketchup. They both sounds similar but they are not. The method of preparing is absolutely different.
Check out here to know the easy way to make Tomato Paste:
Check out here to know the easy way to make Tomato Ketchup:
The Great Aussie Meat Pie Contest
The Great Aussie Meat Pie Contest was held every year since it started in 1990. The main motto behind this great contest was that to produce more high quality pies and also to gain media attention upon the most iconic food stuff in Australia. This contest helps to find the best everyday commercially produced meat pie produced in Australia.
Various Pie Makers around the country Australia takes part in this contest and show their creativity skills in cooking meat pies. Even the judges judge the pies anonymously to avoid any controversies towards or against specific bakeries or pie production companies. The participants can come up with any variety of pies including the veggies as well. The pies that reach the set quality standards may receive the certificate of excellence along with main prize
Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards
Bakels New Zealand Supreme Pie Awards, an annual and is a grand pie competition which is been held every year since 1997. The main motto of this competition and pie awards is same as the Great Aussie Meat Pie Contest i.e. to encourage and help foster to bring huge developments within baking category or field, assisting bakers in producing more commercial and quality pies, and to recognize best pie makers or manufacturers in New Zealand. Interestingly, there were 11 categories in this contest such as gourmet meat, mince and gravy, bacon and egg, chicken and vegetables, vegetable and gravy, mince and cheese, steak and cheese, gourmet fruit and steak, seafood and gravy, vegetarian and commercial wholesale pies. Presentation, profile, filling, the quality and appearance of pastry on the top and bottom are taken into account as primary judging elements while selecting the best pies.
Some Studies on Nutritional Value of Meat Pies
Child Obesity Summit in 2002 launched by Bob Carr, Former New South Wales Premier, where he had made some statements on Meat Pies i.e. Children who munch on meat pies, chiko rolls, and sausage rolls was akin to child maltreatment or cruelty.
In 2002 April, The Australian Consumers Association (ACA) had conducted some studies on 22 varieties of frozen meat pies available at different super markets. They had stated that the brands (from whom they collected the samples for study) did not meet the minimum standards (set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, FSANZ) of containing 25% meat content in meat pies whereas the fat content ranged from 15-35 grams per pie. Since the study by ACA was done for a selected pies from super markets, these results were not accountable to freshly baked meat pies, in which the meat and fat content varies from one bakery to another. Later in 2006, the ACA had again conducted studies on meat pies and stated that 5 out of 23 pies does not meet the standards of containing 25% meat in a pie to be called as a good meat pie. In the same year, ACA awarded “The Choice Shonky Award for UnAustralian Content” to pie manufacturer ‘Black and Gold and their pies contained only 17% of meat content.
Buffalo, Beef, Deer, Cattle, Goat, Poultry, Hare, Pig, Camel, Sheep, and Rabbit are the only meats allowed by FSANZ to make up 25% meat in a meat pie. The definition of meat by FSANZ means ears, snouts, tongue roots, blood vessels, and tendons. The other parts like brain, kidney, liver, heart, tongue, etc. are need to be mentioned with a label and wild animals should not be used in pies.
The best suggestion from an Australian I heard and I wanted to share with you all was that ‘purchase your meat pie from a stadium kiosk or local service station and prefer to eat the pie when it is medium hot while watching a sports event, this is the best combo to have the maximum enjoyment from an Australian meat pie’. I knew that after learning about Australian meat pies, you all are also excited to have a bite of a delicious meat pie. What are you waiting for! If you are not an Australian, book your tickets to Australia and get the opportunity to enjoy that maximum enjoyment from a meat pie.