But sometimes, I'll make something more involved. This recipe is for those times. I think the entire process, start to finish, takes me two hours. I could probably make it go faster with more practice, but it is never going to be quick.
For those who don't already know, my husband Mr. Snarky is a Kiwi. During my very first visit to New Zealand, back when he and I were just becoming a couple, I fell in love with the traditional Kiwi lunch of "a pie and a slice." The pie part is an individual size pie crust with a savory filling and a puff pastry top. The slice part is similar, but not identical to, what Americans call a bar cookie. My favorite is the caramel slice. Neither portion of this Kiwi lunch nirvana is easily found in San Diego, although I have been told that there is now a food truck serving New Zealand pies.
Mr. Snarky and I both miss pies, so I decided to learn how to make them. This post is the result of many, many iterations on a recipe for a steak and cheese pie.
My recipe for the filling is derived from the recipe for steak and kidney pies in the Edmonds Cookbook. My recipe for pie crust is a slightly modified version of what is on the Crisco can. I use store bought puff pastry. This makes about 6 pies. Most people eat one pie. My husband and one of our Kiwi friends usually eat two each.
1-1.5 lb beef (I use high quality steak, not stew meat. I suspect authentic pies in NZ using stew meat)
1.5 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbs flour
1 cup beef stock
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs ketchup (to be more authentic, you should probably use the tomato sauce they have in NZ, but I use Heinz ketchup because that is what I have)
1 tbs red cooking wine (I usually use Marsala, because that is what I usually have in the way of cooking wine)
1 tsp dried thyme (careful not to get too much: it will make the pies taste nice, but wrong. I don't like the thyme to stand out as a flavor in the finished product, because I've never eaten a steak and cheese pie in New Zealand and tasted any particular herb.)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
You'll also need some good quality cheese to put in the pie. I use New Zealand cheddar, from Trader Joe's. I think any good white cheddar would be fine if you don't have any super purist Kiwis in your eating audience. I have a super purist Kiwi to deal with, so I've never tried anything except the Trader Joe's New Zealand cheddar. Even I, a complete non-purist, non-Kiwi, am aghast at the idea of using orange cheddar in this recipe. That would just be wrong.
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Crisco
1/4 cup butter
~5 tbs cold water
A box from the freezer section of the supermarket. My supermarket has Pepperidge Farms puff pastry, so that is what I use.
Don't forget to thaw the puff pastry before you start. If you do forget, you can put the puff pastry in a big Ziploc bag and thaw it quickly in warm water.
You'll need some individual pie pans. I had to get these sent over from New Zealand:
|Authentic Kiwi pan|
Before my mother in law sent me those, I used some individual tart pans from Williams-Sonoma. These work fine, but the resulting pie is the wrong size and shape to be picked up and eaten without utensils.
|Non-authentic poncy tart pan|
Start by getting the filling cooking.
1. Cut the meat into bite sized chunks and dice the onion.
|Meat made bite-sized|
2. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or stock pot.
3. Brown the meat quickly on all sides.
4. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spatula or spoon, leaving the pan drippings behind.
5. Add the onion and cook until clear.
6. Add the flour and brown (~30 seconds).
7. Gradually add stock, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon to loosen the browned flour and other good things.
8. Bring to boil, then return the meat to the pan.
9. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, wine, herbs, and spices.
10. Simmer until the meat is done. In practice, I simmer over very low heat until the pie crusts are ready.
|Meat made yummy|
BEFORE putting the pie crusts in the pie tins, make a pattern for the top crust by tracing the top of a pie tin on a piece of waxed paper and cutting it out.
Then make the pie crusts and put them in the tins.
1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut in the Crisco and butter using a pastry blender until the mixture forms pea-sized chunks.
3. Sprinkle the water onto the mixture one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork, until the pie crust clings together and cleans the sides of the bowl.
4. Roll out the crust and form the bottom crusts for the pies.
|Lots of authentic NZ cheese|
I've experimented with using slices, and grating is better.
Put the pie crusts on a baking sheet or two, to make it easier to get them in and out of the oven and to guard against messes from any escaped filling.
Distribute the filling into the crusts, and top with the grated cheese.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the pie crust and puff pastry are golden brown.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy!
One of my personal goals for this year is to work on a second filling type. I'll let you know how that turns out....