An Australian food icon, meat pies are a hearty and deliciously addictive dish that defines the Land Down Under. Here’s how to spot the best pie yet – or even better, make your own.
Meat pies are a thing of comfort – stuffed with aromatic vegetables and a protein of choice, with a rich, thick gravy held within a pastry crust. It comes in just the right size for two hands to hold and a comfortable portion to devour in one sitting.
“There are three things that make a great meat pie,” shares Tim Ong, co-owner of The Masons Table. “First is the taste and texture of the pastry. Does it hold the filling and give a great savouriness to the pie? The sauce would be the second; whether it has the right consistency and flavour to balance the pastry. Then the standard of the meat, its tenderness and the quality of its braise.”
While Singaporeans are more familiar with local favourites, such as a traditional chicken or mushroom pie, the Aussies take it up a notch. There’s an unparalleled obsession with meat pies there, with Australians taking these hand-held delicacies with a fevered seriousness. Each nook and cranny introduces a cafe with their twist on the pastry, from the classic steak and pepper to more avant-garde renditions like an eggs benedict pie. It’s clear that meat pies are Australia’s culinary icon – the equivalent of America’s burgers, England’s fish and chips and Mexico’s tacos.
Ong explains why: “The great quality of Australian produce does set Aussie meat pies apart from others in the market. There is a rich culture of pie eating there, and the gourmet pie scene is a staple at many bakeries and cafes in Australia.”
Perhaps the laborious work behind the pastry stand testament to the fanfare that Aussie meat pies receive. The recipe at the bottom of this page, for example, will have you carving out about three hours of your day. Dishing out a good meat pie is tough. We’re not going to mince words: the recipe is not for the impatient, so if you’re in it for the result and not the process, you might be better off ordering one – that is, if you know where to look.
“I love the pies from Four’N Twenty,” shares Rishi Naleendra, chef-owner of Cloudstreet, Kotuwa and Fool. “It’s a huge Australian brand that supplies pies to all the major supermarkets and convenience stores there. We even have them here in Singapore at NTUC FairPrice!” And as in good ol’ Aussie fashion, chef Rishi prefers to eat his pies with dollops of fresh ketchup.
For a Beef and Portobello Mushroom Pie recipe by Samuel Burke, product and business development manager and corporate chef for Meat & Livestock Australia.
SAMUEL BURKE’S TOP 3 TIPS FOR THE BEST MEAT PIE:
- Go for the chuck, blade or shin when choosing your beef cut. These slow-braising cuts bring out the most flavour and naturally thicken the sauce that goes into your meat pie.
- Always cool your beef mixture before covering the dish with your puff pastry. Any residual heat will cause the pastry to soften, lose its flakiness and sink.
- Shortcrust pastry forms a good base for your meat pie as it can hold your ingredients well