Ok, it’s not as bad as that sounds, but it did take me all day to make some meat pies.
Step 1 – Decide you actually want to make meat pies from scratch.
Step 2 – Don’t have any other plans because it will take the better part of the whole day.
Step 3 – Seek assistance from your husband, partner, roommate, cohort – anyone really.
Step 4 – Have a back up plan for left overs.
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So I had decided a week ago that I would make my husband some meat pies. This is not the first time I’ve tried my hand at making pies. I did so more than a year ago and, back then, said I would not be trying again until I had some pie trays, which I now have.
This time I was adamant that I would ‘get it right’.
I had purchased the meat throughout the week, and (to be perfectly honest) I didn’t have anything else to do, so I set about my task at 9:00 am, making sure I browned the meat perfectly before adding the stock, the wine, the onions, and the rest of the ingredients including the most important ingredient of all – a teaspoon of Vegemite.
Now, don’t go turning your nose up over the inclusion of a favourite Aussie spread, it is an amazing flavour enhancer and I’ve been adding it to my Braised Beef for so long Dean now calls it my Vegemite Beef.
It takes more than three hours for the filling to be ready once it starts simmering and then it has to cool completely before it can be placed into the pie cases, so starting at 9:00 am wasn’t such a bad idea. We’d barely cleaned up after breakfast.
My intention was to make the shortcrust pastry but . . . to do that, I had to take a trip to the supermarket to get some butter and as I walked past the frozen food section, I noticed sheets of shortcrust pastry on special. Why would I go through all the heartache of making it? There it was, already made and already rolled to a perfect thickness. So I cheated and bought a packet. I already had frozen puff pastry for the lids. I’ve never attempted to make puff pastry, and I’m not about to start now.
Back home and Dean had been stirring the pot in my absence. I walked in to hear him saying, “You call yourself Vegemite Beef! I had better-tasting vegemite on my toast this morning!” He thinks he’s so funny when he has to ‘stir’ the pot.
I sat and enjoyed a coffee, a video chat with our girls, lunch and a game of football before starting to work on the pie cases around 3:30 pm. By then the filling had long been finished and completely cooled. It had also been sufficiently taste-tested and met with the appropriate approval and, for approx 2.5 hours, I’d had a nice relaxing time.
Then the fun really started.
I measured the pie cases and sought out something that would allow me to cut the pastry to fit. A saucepan lid was near enough and after giving the pie tray a thorough clean, requesting Dean dry it and lightly coat each hollow with a light spray of oil, I asked if he’d ‘gentle fit the pastry into the space’. Big mistake. I relegated him to the other side of the kitchen bench where he eagerly watched as I completed that task, though it was not so easy with my long fingernails.
Unlike last year, I did remember to place baking paper between the pastry and the weights before blind baking them and, at this stage, I realised there was a lot of leftover pastry that I could do something with.
Thankfully there was a tin of pie apples in the pantry, so I whipped up an apple pie filling and set about preparing some little cases for some mini apple pies. I decided to use a muffin tray and, again, I had to find something to ‘cut the pastry to size’. I think Dean was horrified that one of his whisky glasses was ‘perfect’ and I proceeded to use it. (I loving cleaned it when I was finished.)
Back to the meat pies. The cases came out of the oven, the weights were transferred to the mini-cases with only a few ‘hot, hot hot’ exclaimations in the process, and the mini-cases went into the oven. I set about finishing the meat pies.
At this stage, I felt like a mad scientist. (And not for the first time while working in my kitchen.)
Dean asked if he could help and, up to this point, he had been a great help, stirring the pot, and me. But I was on a roll and my kitchen isn’t really big enough for two people. As I prefer to have all the precious ‘kitchen real estate’ to myself, I asked him to kindly stay out of my way.
There was just enough filling for six pies, and with their puff pastry lids attached, I put them aside and set about finishing the apple pies. Those mini-cases were sufficiently done, and their filling ‘cooked enough’. Dean started licking his lips as I sprinkled their tops with a little sugar and popped them back into the oven and set the timer.
With my butt down and feet up for 10 minutes, at this stage, I told Dean he was NOT getting mashed potato and mushy peas and gravy with his pie. “OH!”, he said.
“Don’t ‘OH!’ me MR!” I said.
“You’ll eat what I put in front of you and you’ll enjoy every bite of it.” 🙂 We jest all the time.
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The meat pies looked amazing when they came out of the oven.
It wasn’t long before Dean devoured his with relish. (Enthusiasm that is, not the condiment.)
Even if I say so myself, I was impressed with the way they easily popped out of the pie tray, the way the filling held firm and yet there was still plenty of ‘gravy’ to go with the tender chunks of beef.
I thought they were very yummy and oh so rustic.
I was even more impressed with how delicious they were. (Sometimes I do surprise myself.)
Dean gave them a rating of 11/10. And even though we didn’t have them with the customary mashed potato and mushy peas and gravy, there were mini (also rustic) apple pies to have with ice-cream for dessert.
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I didn’t actually waste my Sunday, but it did take me all day to accomplish making meat pies for dinner. Considering this was a repeat of an activity I undertook more than a year ago, it may well be another year before I have the urge to do it again. But, I must also say . . .
We Aussies never need an excuse to tuck into a meat pie. They would have to be a favourite, after midnight, post-pub feast, second only to a Lamb Kebab. They are the perfect lunch/snack for watching a game of football (live or otherwise), and they become a quintessential meal when accompanied with mashed potato, mushy peas, and gravy.
Perhaps next time I’ll make a proper meal of it.