Let me be frank here. There’s a reason why I’ve blown up a dress size, lost my waist and developed a more, well, rotund belly in these past years.
I. Love. Meat pies.
Just thinking of a mound of piping hot tender meaty goodness coated thickly in an alcohol-fueled gravy and encased in some buttery crumbly pastry gives me all sorts of unholy adult feelings.
My dangerous affection isn’t helped by the fact that I’m living in a country that regards a humble meat pie with more reverence than our politicians. So the good news is I get to indulge in it as much as I want; from amazing pie shops to the more plebian frozen Four ‘n Twentys. The bad news is the dreaded pie gut. RIP cinched in waist, you will be missed.
Naturally I like to cook it a lot at home. If only for the sheer pleasure of making a gargantuan family-sized monster in a gargantuan pie dish. This time I went for a good old ‘pulled’ beef and lots of beer. Because I adore cooking with beer. Or is it drinking beer while cooking? Eh, details…
This pastry is one of my favourites; Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry (I did a version of it for this pie). Delightfully melt-in-your-mouth and buttery yet flaky and light. It takes no time to whip up, chilling time is minimal and it’s just wonderful to work with. I keep a few tightly wrapped slabs of it in the freezer for all my sweet and savoury needs.
It seems a bit odd to be enjoying a hot meat pie during an Aussie summer but since it has been unusually cold and rainy, it’s been oddly, the perfect ‘summer’ fodder for a weekend. Well worth the extra pie-gut-busting stomach crunches I tell ya!
- Makes enough for 2 x 22-24cm shallow pie dishes. You could also use half and freeze the other half
- 1.5kg chuck steak, cut into steak-sized slabs
- 2 Tbl olive oil
- 100ml port
- 3 brown onions, finely chopped
- 750ml beer (I used half ale, half dark stout)
- 750ml beef stock
- 3 Tbl of tomato paste
- 3 Tbl worcestershire sauce
- 2.5 Tbl plain flour
- 2 Tbl vegemite
- small bunch of thyme tied in a bunch
- 3 fresh bay leaves (tied with the thyme)
- 600g thereabouts of button mushrooms, chopped into chunks
- Makes more than enough for one large pie crust
- 300g plain flour
- 250g salted butter, chopped
- 100-120ml sour cream
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tbl of water (for egg wash)
- Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat then brown the slabs of steak in batches until golden all over. Be careful not to crowd the pan other it’ll lose the heat and the meat will ‘stew’ not ‘brown’. Set meat aside then deglaze the pan with port scraping the bottom of the delicious bits. Cook until reduced by half, remove from heat then set aside.
- In a large casserole dish, heat another two tablespoons of olive oil then sauté onions until softened and lightly coloured. Add the beers, stock, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Whisk in the flour until there are no lumps then add the vegemite and herbs.
- Bring to a boil then lower the heat and add the browned beef and deglazed port. Cover then simmer over the gentlest heat for 3-4 hours or until the meat is ultra tender and pulls apart easily. Stir in the mushrooms from the last hour of cooking.
- Remove beef from stock then with two forks, pull apart the meat into thick strands.
- Meanwhile increase the heat, bring the stock back to a boil and cook until reduced by a third or until thickened. Season to taste.
- Add the pulled beef back to the stock then stir to combine. Remove herbs and discard. Ladle into your pie dishes and cool completely. Overnight in the fridge is best as it’d fully develop the flavours (you could also freeze half).
- To make the pastry, add flour and butter in your food processor and whizz until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add 100ml sour cream and process until it comes together in a dough. Add more bit by bit if too dry.
- Pat dough into disc, wrap well and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 220°C. Roll out the pastry into a circle wider than your pie dish and at 3-4mm thickness. Brush the edges of the pie dish with the egg wash then roll your pastry over the top. Trim off the excess with a knife, crimp the edges then brush all over with egg.
- Bake at 220°C for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 180°C and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and golden.
- Serve hot with a cold ale and roasted butter and honey carrots.