What is an Australian meat pie? Well, it is one of the foods you must absolutely try when you are visiting. It is pure comfort in the palm of your hand. It is a must have when I am Down Under. The pies are often referred to as Australia’s national dish.
Australian meat pies are hand-held sized meat pies containing dice or minced meat. Sometimes they will also have gravy, mushrooms, onions, cheese or other vegetables in them. They are often served with tomato sauce. (Australia’s version of ketchup) My understanding from my Aussie friends is that mince meat is the way to go, but I often opt for the beef and mushroom myself.
For me, my visits to Australia were not the first time I encountered a meat pie. My father’s family is from New England, Vermont to be exact and my great grandmother, Nanny Dot, and her sisters used to make a minced meat pie. Most often around holidays such as thanksgiving. Her pies where made in a regular pie dish vs the smaller hand-sized pies I eat in Australia. I have to say as a young girl I wasn’t very fond of the minced meat flavor. Probably why I still opt for the beef and mushroom. To me the Australia meat pies are a cousin to our pot pies. Which I do make on occasion from a full-size pie to individual ramakins.
Meat pies actually go way back in history over to Europe during the middle ages. Making savory pies was a way, or only way, back then to preserve meats. Today, though in Australia, you can find these handy little delectable take away pies at sporting events, holiday celebrations, and most local bakeries. My most recent visit to South Australia, one of the travel agents in our group found a place to deliver. We’d been in country 7 days without a bite and couldn’t head to the airport for our flight home without one. The store brought them to our hotel for a quick dine and dash before piling in our vans for the trip home.
Today I share two recipes with you. One from the recipe book of my relatives for making minced meat and a traditional meat recipe for today’s Australian pies.
Mince Meat Recipe from Myrtle Taylor Pillsbury’s Book
2 pounds meat
2 1/2 pounds sweet apples
4 pounds sugar
1/2 pound suet
1/2 pound butter
2 quarts cider
3 teaspoonfuls of cloves
6 teaspoonfuls all spice
6 teaspoonfuls of cinnamon
1 teaspoonful pepper
1 glass of brandy
3 glasses wine
Salt and one cracker
Raisins stewed and chopped, use if desired citron and lemons.
The above is made in a regular pie dish for 6-8 servings.
Unfortunately, the book has no directions on how to prepare the pie. This is typical of the recipes I find from my ancestors. I always get to experiment in making it come out the way I remember.
Australian Meat Pie
I’ve adapted my recipe based on above and other recipes that I have seen for the meat pies. Once you have a basic recipe you can pretty much add and modify to your content as I mentioned pies come from a range or meat only, to meat with chees, to meat with mushrooms, and on.
For the Crust:
Here is my standard go to pie crust recipe that I use for a standard 9-inch pie. To make individual pies you would roll out and cut into large circle and cut out your circles for your individual crusts. Another option is to buy prepared dough or puff pastry.
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening or 2/3 cup lard ( I use Crisco)
2 cups all -purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mix becomes size of small peas. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until flour is moist and pastry almost cleans sides of bowl.
Roll into a ball. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Cut your rounds for your individual pie pans. Place one circle in bottom of each pie tin. Once pie is filled top with second circle. See instructions below.
For the Filling:
1 ½ to 2lbs cubed meat minced or lean ground beef
1 onion finely chopped (optional)
2 clove garlic minced
½ stick butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
½ -1 6oz can of tomato paste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons flour (mix with some water or broth before adding)
¾ cup beef broth
½ tsp thyme
Freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
Instructions for pie:
-Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add beef, breaking into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 8 minutes. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant.
-Add broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, nutmeg, allspice, tomato paste and thyme and bring to a boil. Add flour mixed in liquid and slowly stir in to thicken. Add more thickening if needed, but mixture will thicken up more when chilled. Lower heat to medium-low to simmer gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit. Transfer to a bowl and let cool in refrigerator.
-Meanwhile prepare crusts.
-Once filling is cooled. Make sure rack is in center of oven. Place a baking sheet on the rack and pre-heat to 425F
-Fill your pie shells, don’t overfill. Use water or egg wash to brush the edges. Pinch and crimp the pastry together. Brush top. Place small slit in middle with point of knife.
-Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on rack for 10 minutes before serving.
-Serve with tomato sauce (ketchup)
Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI.
She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds. Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind. She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember. With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.