What’s an Australian seven course meal?
A meat pie and a six pack, of course!
We may be out of the World Cup already, but we’re in with a good chance for another competition – the World Cup of Food. Our humble contribution to the world of football snacks is the unfussy meat pie, preferably topped with a dollop of ketchup, and in Aljazeera’s challenge our first competitor in the group was Chile, with their torta mil hojas.
Chile’s “thousand-layer” cake is a decadent delight, that only errs on the too-sweet side occasionally. Manjar, a version of dulce de leche that has the same consistency as Nutella, is spread liberally over crispy pastry. It’s built up and up (albeit with around 980 layers less than the name would suggest) and then compacted before being covered in powdered sugar and crushed walnuts. It sounds incredible, but it would probably go better with an afternoon tea than a match day.
If the judge had a sweeter tooth it could have gone another way, but Australia beat Chile hands down with the meat pie. If you aren’t Australian, let me fill you in on the nation’s most popular snack, once named “Australia’s national dish”.
Thick, gravy-covered beef mince and onions, captured in a light and crumbly pastry, and with a huge dollop of ketchup on top. There is nothing better, and it’s been an intrinsic part of our culture for quite some time. Early settlers ate it as a cheap and fulfilling meal, although it was usually made with mutton as sheep were so prolific. Nowadays there are many well-known companies that sell frozen meat pies in supermarkets, but a much better and authentic one can be found in food stalls or small takeaways. There are also plenty of options in the way of meat, including chicken, seafood and vegetarian or vegan alternatives, as well as the potential to make it a pie floater by placing it in a bowl of pea soup. The average Aussie consumes twelve meat pies in a year – most of which are during the AFL season!
If you have cravings for meat pie now – I know I do – here’s a recipe to whip up for the next game day.
Home-Made Meat Pie Recipe:
Heat a couple of tablespoons or dripping in a frying pan. Add a finely chopped onion and cook it until it’s good and soft. Get around 500g of beef mince – or any other meat for that matter – and increase the heat to maximum after adding it, cooking for about seven minutes. There should be no lumps left, and the mince should have gone lovely and brown. Sprinkle two tablespoons of plain white flour over the meat, and cook for another minute.
Add to the mix one and a quarter cups of beef stock, a third of a cup of tomato sauce and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Bring it all up to boil and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring plenty to make sure the meat doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan; you want the sauce to be lovely and thick by the time it’s finished. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley and then add salt and pepper before allowing it all to cool down. Not eating it with a spoon is definitely the most difficult part of this meal.
Get the oven up to 200°C and while it’s heating cut out four circles from sheets of shortcrust pastry, using them to line your pie tins. Fill them up with delicious meat mix, and then cover them up with the same size circles but cut out of puff pastry this time. Put a little water on the edges of the pie base to get it to stick, and then press the edges together before cutting an emergency “steam relief” hole in the top of the pie. Brush the top pastry with a beaten egg and bake them for ten minutes before reducing the temperature by to 180°C and leaving it another twenty minutes. Serve them straight out of the oven with liberal helpings of tomato sauce, and try not to burn your mouth from eagerness!