These are the pies that sealed the deal. They had Matty's name written all over them: typical Aussie food, loads of meat and the perfect accompaniment to beer. I baked a batch for the Australia Day party my brother Mark hosted four years ago. Matt turned up with his gaggle of friends and demolished the better part of a platter. His constant compliments led me think he had designs on more than just my pastries (I was right).
I've baked these in anticipation of the football season, about to start tonight. Adelaide versus Essendon. Meh. Anyone following the news in Australia (and not just back page news) will know any win from Essendon will be questionable. I always thought they were quite effete but I guess now we know that, at the very least, they're not afraid of needles.
I made a fatal error this week, suggesting it's time to buy a new television. Ours kicked the bucket about six weeks ago and it's been quite a peaceful stretch without the giggle box on every night. But when our buddy Amanda spoke about how much she's enjoying Girls recently, I remembered the good times we had. Cue montage of me lying on the couch with an open packet of Twisties and chocolate down my front, staring into a glowing screen.
New television means football will now be screened every Saturday and Sunday, sound blaring, beer frothing and men groaning. It's not as sexy as it sounds. At least delicious pies will help: I can nibble on a delectable little treat and hopefully they'll be so hot, mouths will be scalded and noise will be kept to a minimum. Evil pies.
Disclaimer: this is a long recipe. But also one you can make in stages and well ahead of time. I have a batch in my freezer ready for the next game I'm subjected to. Pastry can always be whipped up in advance and the filling can be frozen for at least a couple of months.
We enjoyed the pies with a cracking porter ale from Renaissance Brewing Company. Again, I picked it up from Blackhearts and Sparrows (the one on Scotchmer St in Fitzroy seems to have a pretty brilliant selection of beers). This one is from... New Zealand! Sacrilege for Football Fever Week but we can ignore that fact because it's a pretty fabulous brew. The porter would also go very nicely with the chocolate molasses pudding from yesterday. Given the big rich flavours of the meat in these pies, I figured we needed something just as grandiose to match.
Have a crack at these pies. Even if you don't have all the ingredients (I'm looking at you, veal glace) you can substitute here and there to come up with an approximate version of the real deal. But I'm sorry, if you think these will help you snare Matty into your clutches, you're sadly mistaken. Hands off - the boy is mine.
Recipe adapted from Shannon Bennett
500g minced beef
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 brown onion
1/2 celery stalk
5 stalks of thyme
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup port
2 cups beef stock
1/4 cup veal glace
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Peel the carrot and onion and chop both with the celery to a fine dice. Saute in olive oil until softened. Add the wine and port and boil for two minutes. Add the stock and reduce for a further minute. Add the beef and break apart with a wooden spoon until browned. Add the thyme and cook on the stovetop over low heat for 3 hours. In the last 15 minutes, add the veal glace and stir to dissolve.
Once the filling is cooked, place in a bowl in the refrigerator until cool.
Preheat oven to 200º and grease pie dishes.
To make pastry, combine flour, butter, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add eggs and milk and pulse until pastry just comes together. Press dough together and wrap in plastic. Chill for 20 minutes.
Roll pastry until around 3mm thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut circles out that are slightly bigger than your pie hole (not that pie hole). Press into dish and top each with a square of baking paper. Fill with baking weights and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake again for 10 minutes.
Cool pastry bottoms and fill with meat mix. Cut pastry tops out (again, slightly bigger than your pie hole. And again, not that pie hole). Brush edges of pastry with egg and place, egg side down on the top of the pies. Brush egg wash over the top of each pie, avoiding edges so they don't stick to the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
Serve with some tomato sauce and a nice porter ale.