Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aussie Beef Pie

Today, my friends, I've got an Australian original for you! Hand held pies were everywhere in Sydney. It seemed like they were being sold in every convenience store, fast food joint and 5 star restaurant. There's even bakeries dedicated to making only pies- in just about any flavor you could ever hope for. Thai chicken, curry beef, roasted vegetable, feta with spinach, mushroom and sausage.... the combinations were endless!

OK ok. I know it's like 9 million degrees at your house. I KNOW. It's 9 million degrees with 9 million percent humidity here in Okinawa. But I can't resist. I'm still in vacation mode, dreaming of eating these pies while remembering walking down a cold, blustery sidewalk on our way to the train station. It was the end of Australia's winter when we went a couple weeks ago, but I couldn't resist sharing a regional favorite with you despite it being hot as heck in the other hemisphere!
You might have expected me to make something from the haute cuisine style called Modern Australian, which seems to be a fusion of Mediterranean-Asian-French foods using local ingredients. Delicious? Oh heavens, absolutely. Plus, I loved having options to eat other than Japanese food for a change! But I wanted to make something that I actually saw the locals eating- not just tourist-y fare. Pies are humble, comforting and cheap to make- something that I envisioned the early settlers (ahem... convicts) of Australia to be able to afford to make on a regular basis.

These pies are a little different than a traditional American pot pie- whose crust is so tender and flaky it usually requires a fork to eat and is not sturdy enough to contain the filling without a dedicated pie tin to support it. Most recipes I've looked into for the Aussie pies actually call for two different types of pastry doughs- a shortcrust for the bowl of the pie, and a puff pastry for the topping. The thought behind this it seems is to help create a sturdier base than the American pot pie, since these pies seem to be utilized as portable foods. Would you want your pie exploding all over your suit on the way to the office? Um, no thank you!
I know this picture doesn't have anything to do with Australian beef pies, but it was the sunset view on our patio the other day and it was too pretty to not share!

I will caveat this recipe by saying that while I followed the instructions and made my own shortcrust dough- I definitely am not a great baker and overmixed the dough ingredients. The shortcrust tasted wonderful, but was a little soft from what I'm used to. Since I am not a pie crust connoisseur I might just stick to the premade stuff.... I'm not fancy and don't have mini pie tins anyway, though they are definitely on my kitchen bucket list- Christmas is coming up, right?

Anyway, the pie was DE-LIC-IOUS. Completely forget about your diet and have more than one piece of this tasty dish. It's savory, yet the natural sugars in the tomatoes caramelize to add the perfect amount of sweetness. It was totally worth the effort!

Any of my Australian readers out there... I'd love to hear your thoughts about pies!

Aussie Beef Pie

Adapted from Cooking from the Heart

Shortcrust Pastry
1 and 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 cups (300 g) all purpose flour

½ tsp salt

1.5 tsp white wine vinegar

1/3 cup water, chilled

Beef Pie
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large white onion, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1/2 cup celery, diced 

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon thyme
2 teaspoons oregano
1 can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup wine, whichever ya got- I only had white open so that's what I used

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1.5 pounds lean ground beef or sirloin steak cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 tablespoon flour
1.5 cups beef stock, divided (you may not use all of it, just keep it handy in case you do)
2/3 cup frozen peas

1 batch of shortcrust pastry (see above) or 3 sheets of frozen pie dough
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry

Egg Wash
1 egg

3 tablespoons water

1 pinch salt

If you are planning pies for dinner, you’ll need to start this recipe about 6 hours before you intend to eat your pies to allow time for the pastry to rest in the fridge after mixing (at least 2 hours) and rolling (another 2 hours).

Start with the pastry. Sift the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and add the cubed butter, pulsing in 1-second bursts about 6 times to partly combine. Be careful not to overmix! Remove the dough from the processor and gently shape into an inch thick disc, wrap up in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, rest the dough on the counter for 15 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface until the dough is about 3 mm thick. Trim the dough to the size of the baking pan(s) you’re planning to use, then drape gently into the dish. Press dough into all surfaces of the pan, and try to leave about ¼ inch overhang over the top. Cover with plastic wrap again and chill for another 2 hours.

While the dough is chilling, start on the pie filling. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat and cook the onions until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, thyme and oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir through the tomato, wine, salt and pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the beef, stirring to combine and then add about ½ cup of the beef stock. Simmer and leave for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. You may need to add more stock towards the end to ensure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan and burn. I ended up using about a total of 1.5 cups of stock.

Turn off the heat when the mixture is very integrated and has deepened in color a bit, and then sprinkle over the flour and stir through the mixture. Stir well to incorporate, and the residual heat from the mixture will allow any cooking liquid to reduce and thicken. You are after the consistency of a Bolognese sauce. If you need to add more stock, do. Add the peas, and let the residual heat defrost them. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Set the pan to the side to cool.

Heat your oven to 400° F and mix together egg wash ingredients.

After the mixture has cooled slightly, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and spoon the filling into the pans. Place puff pastry on top, press down gently to prevent air pockets, and trim excess from edges. Press puff pastry edges and shortcrust edges together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the top of the pie(s) with the egg wash, and cut a few slits into the crust to allow steam to escape during the baking process.

Bake the pie(s) at 400° for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for additional 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow pie(s) to cool for 10 minutes before serving. 


  1. I've never had anything Australian, but this pie looks delicious.

    1. Thanks, Mitzie! I had always heard of things like mince meat pie in reference to Britain, but never with Australia. I was surprised when we went how many people were walking to and from the train station with pies in hand! They always smelled so yummy so I had to at least try to make my own. The site where I found the recipe is an Australian blog, so that makes it more authentic in my book. I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty they were. I hope you get to make them soon!

  2. Okay, so this was one of the best meals I fixed in October. I owe you a great big thanks. I made one alteration, I used a sour cream pie crust for top and bottom. It was absolutely delicious and I guarded the leftovers which I selfishly saved for my own lunch. I will make this again and again. Thank you.

    1. Oooo a sour cream pie crust? I've never tried one of these, but will definitely have to soon- it sounds fabulous! I'm so glad you enjoyed the pie, and I don't blame you one bit for saving the pie for yourself. Thanks for stopping by as well as letting me know the pie turned out awesome for you!


Leave some love!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Site Design By Designer Blogs