Pie night

It is one of the standing jokes of Football that the finals series usually goes by without supporters of the Melbourne Demons even noticing as they catch up on a little late season snow on the fields or chew on a cheese board in the MCC Members. Finally, 57 years since their last success, it was the Melbourne FC that held the cup aloft on Grand Final night, running out winners against the Footscray Bulldogs. Congrats to you Melbourne. Those old, moggies were obviously not listening when I advised them last month to, Carpe Diem. In this house we watched the Grand Final from Perth on the telly, just like tens of thousands of other households across Melbourne that night and in our case, tucking into a traditional Footy Pie Night during the game. There are any number of ways to make that great Australian culinary masterpiece, the meat pie. If you’re a vegetarian, you don’t even really need to use meat, but tonight when the attention of Footy tragics turns to the draft, here’s tell of a serve of “dog’s eye and dead horse” from the 2021 Finals series that was.

The rest of us can eat humble pie: Melbourne, not so bitter on Grand Final night.

2021 GF pie

Shortcrust pastry ingredients
  • 275g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 150g unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1cm cubes
  • Butter to grease the pie dishes
  • 4½ tbsp chilled water (plus more as needed)
Pie lid
  • 1kg packet, store bought frozen puff pastry sheets, recently thawed
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water
  • 1.25kg gravy beef cut into small pieces
  • 250g short cut bacon cut into short strips
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 150g frozen green peas, defrosted, plus extra to serve
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 1¼ cups (315ml) beef stock
  • 3 cups (750ml bottle) dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • Tasty, sliced cheese

For the filling, sprinkle beef with ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-based pot over high heat. Add half of the beef and brown, then remove. Repeat with remaining beef, adding more oil as needed. Set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium-high. Add crushed garlic, bacon and onion with a little oil and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the flour and stir through. Slowly add beef stock, stirring constantly. Once the flour is dissolved thoroughly, add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and dry red wine. This recipe uses a full 750ml bottle.

Return the beef to the pot, cover with lid and adjust heat so it’s simmering gently. Leave to cook slowly for up to 2 hours. Remove pot cover, increase heat slightly and simmer for a further 30 minutes, stirring regularly or until the beef is fork tender and the liquid has reduced to a thickish gravy. Stir through 150g thawed peas and allow the filling to cool before chilling in the fridge until quite cold, (warm filling will ruin the pastry).

For the shortcrust pastry, combine 275g plain flour, ¾ tsp salt and 150g unsalted butter and mix by hand into a dough. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface, briefly knead together to form a smooth ball then pat into a 2cm-thick round disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.

You will need individual pie dishes. I used the single pie dishes my mother baked with 30 years ago but you could use ramekins or large muffin tins if you don’t have individual pie tins. Butter each dish and cover with a piece of baking paper. Roll out the shortcrust dough thinly on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out pie dish shapes and line the pie tins. Prick bases with a fork and freeze for ½ hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). Fill each pie base with the cooled pie filling topped by a slice of Tasty cheese. Cut pie shapes from the recently thawed puff pastry. Brush around the edge of the shortcrust with egg, then top with the puff pastry. Trim the excess, stamping round the edges firmly with a fork, then brush the lid with egg and cut a 1cm cross in the centre.

Bake for 30 minutes until a deep golden brown. Serve with tomato sauce and steamed peas.

Home-made pies take time and patience, sort of like your favourite footy team.

Did somebody say Pie Night?

3 thoughts on “Pie night”

    1. The recipe makes about a dozen yummy pies, but go light on the pepper. We had a lot left over which I ended up freezing. My mother used to bake pies, but I don’t think I ever realized back then how much work went into making them.

      Liked by 1 person

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