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Party pies

You'll need

  • 2 tbsp
  • olive oil
  • 600 gm
  • chuck steak, cut into 2cm pieces
  • For dusting:
  • seasoned plain flour
  • 4
  • golden shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 3
  • garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 200 ml
  • dry red wine
  • 200 ml
  • good-quality beef stock
  • ¼ cup
  • (firmly packed) thyme leaves
  • 1
  • egg, lightly beaten
  • 1
  • butter-puff pastry sheet (375gm)(see note)
  • To serve:
  • homemade or good quality homemade-style tomato sauce
  •  
  • Shortcrust pastry
  • 240 gm
  • plain flour, sieved
  • 180 gm
  • cold unsalted butter, coarsely chopped

Method

  • 01
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Dust steak in flour, shake off excess, and cook in batches until golden, stirring occasionally (3-5 minutes), remove from saucepan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add shallots and garlic to pan, sauté until golden (3-5 minutes). Add red wine, reduce by half (3-4 minutes), then add stock and thyme. Reduce heat to low, add steak, cover and simmer until tender (2-2½ hours). Uncover and cook until sauce is thick (30-40 minutes). Season to taste, set aside to cool, then refrigerate until cooled completely.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for shortcrust pastry, process flour, butter and 1 tsp salt in a food processor until just combined. Add 80ml iced water, a little at a time, and pulse until a dough forms. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (1 hour).
  • 03
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Roll shortcrust pastry to 5mm thick and cut twelve 9cm-diameter rounds. Line a 12 x 60ml-capacity muffin tray with pastry and refrigerate to rest (30 minutes). Meanwhile, cut twelve 7cm-diameter rounds of puff pastry and refrigerate until required.
  • 04
  • Divide pie mixture among pastry cases, fold in pastry edges, then brush with eggwash and top with puff pastry circles. Press edges together and refrigerate to rest (30 minutes), brush with eggwash and cook until golden and cooked through (15-20 minutes). Serve with tomato sauce.
Note We prefer to use Carême butter-puff pastry. For this recipe, we’ve used shortcrust pastry on the base and puff pastry on top to add a buttery, flaky finish. You can use all shortcrust pastry, if preferred.

This recipe is from the November 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

If the pie is an Aussie icon, the party pie is true-blue fair dinkum to the next power. Other countries have pies at parties, of course, but it says a lot about Australia that we are the standard-bearers for the party pie, a version of the workaday coffin slimmed down, bite-sized and ready to entertain the after-five crowd as readily as the under-fives.

Speaking of coffins, here’s a little-known fact: the use of the word “coffin” to describe a pie is not, as is commonly assumed, a play on words regarding the pie’s contents. The pie usage came first, and the funereal sense has only been with us in English since the 16th century.

Could it be that the party pie is an under-recognised Australian culinary innovation? We know we can’t claim the full-sized version as our own, much as we’d like to, so here perhaps is a new rallying point for culinary patriotism.

They’ve got knishes, calzones, curry puffs, pasties, samosas and pirozhki and we’ve got party pies. Say it loud, say it proud. Or at least until it turns out they were invented by New Zealanders. Enjoy them while you can.


At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people
  • 30 min preparation
  • 3 hrs 50 min cooking (plus cooling, resting)
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At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people
  • 30 min preparation
  • 3 hrs 50 min cooking (plus cooling, resting)

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