Cultures all over the world have some version of the savory meat pie. For this concept, I cast a very loose net which includes any product with meat inside of some form of dough. It may be boiled, baked, or fried. In the United States, we have the humble Pot Pie that many of a certain age ate from the frozen section growing up. U.K. has the Cornish Pasty. Jamaican Beef Pattys were inspired by the Cornish Pasty but added spices like tumeric, allspice, and Scotch Bonnet peppers. South America contributes the Empanada in all of it’s glory. From Morocco comes the Bisteeya or Pastilla made with phillo dough, chicken and eggs. Xian Bing from Northern China is pan fried and is part hand pie, part potsticker. Piroshki is from Russia and The Balkans. From down under is the Australian Meat Pie that is a popular street food in Australia and New Zealand.
According to Wikipedia, “An Australian or New Zealand meat pie is a hand-sized meat pie containing diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes with onion, mushrooms, or cheese and often consumed as a takeaway food snack.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meat_pie_(Australia_and_New_Zealand)
I decided to make my version of this handy filling dish.
First things first. The pastry dough has to be made ahead so it can firm up in the fridge at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. I used the Little Spoon Farm recipe for sourdough pie crust made with sourdough discard which I always have available as a byproduct of my bread baking. You can find that recipe here: https://littlespoonfarm.com/sourdough-pie-crust-recipe/ If you make sourdough bread, I highly recommend this recipe although any good pie crust will do. The sourdough makes it very cohesive and easy to roll out.
After the pie dough has had a chance to rest, it is time for the filling. For this bake of 2 pies I used half of a large onion and about half a pound of ground beef. While 80/20 mince is the standard for me, I chose 75/25 for this cook because the added fat adds flavor and helps keep the pie moist.
The onion is diced and cooked low and slow until a nice golden brown color. I love the sweetness one gets with this method. I do not cook them until totally caramelized for this pie since it will still cook in the oven and I want a bit of texture to the allium. You could also use shallots or leeks for a bit of a change. Once done, the onion is removed from the pan and set aside.
Into the hot pan with the ground beef. Season generously with salt and pepper. Let it brown. You want that crusty goodness that adds so much flavor. Do not break up the meat totally to crumbs, you want the texture of pieces in your bite. Once the meat is nicely browned, remove from pan and drain all but 2 tblsp of grease. Add 2 tblsp of flour to the pan and cook on low heat to cook out the raw flour taste. It only takes a few minutes, but stir constantly to avoid sticking and burning. Season as you go in every step. I add both salt and freshly ground black pepper here.
Time for your liquid to make the gravy. I use home made chicken stock but either beef or chicken stock from the store is find. I recommend using only low salt or no salt stock so you can control the sodium. The basic ratio for gravy is 1 cup of liquid to 2 tbsp of fat and 2 tbsp flour. This should be enough for our purpose today. Using a whisk or fork, constantly stir while slowly introducing your liquid. Keep stirring until your gravy thickens.
Add browned beef and onions back into the gravy pan and combine. Taste and check for seasoning. Let your mixture cool while you roll out your pie dough.
I cut a piece of parchment paper to help me size the dough for the 2 cup Anchor Hocking bowls then rolled the dough to that diameter. Carefully placing the dough into the bowl, I made sure to press it gently down and leave no bubbles. A knife around the rim cuts off the excess. Using the bowl lid for size, I made the lid of the pie. Brush with egg wash, add some vents, and bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 350° until golden brown and delicious.
Let pies cool in cooking vessel for 10 minutes, then remove and set on wire rack to cool or just eat immediately. A good thing about this bowl is that the pie can be put back in after it is cool, snap on the lid, and right into the fridge for your next hunger pang.
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