Last night we ate the vegetarian version of the humble Aussie meat pie. I'm not really sure if meat pies actually are Australian, they're more than likely English. Since they kicked us off their island quite some time ago, for heinous crimes such as thieving bread (or in my family's case, machine wrecking. Darn that industrial revolution), I think that we deserve to at least get custody of one dish. I'd rather it not be a meat pie (i'd also rather it not be 'spotted dick' either, thanks so much) but it is, and i've never eaten one. So I decided to make a Quorn version to finally see what all the fuss is about. Apparently I miss the point of beef mince which is that it doesn't necessarily have a strong flavour, it's (according to Rob) more about the texture and something else that I can't remember. But not the other flavours that I added. So my meat pie isn't bland enough to be super authentic but it was delicious. On the Quorn rating scale the pies came in under carbonara and lasagne but above cottage pie. Anyway, now that I've made them sound not-so-great, even though they were DELICIOUS, let's get to it!
Quorn mince meat pies
You will need:
3 x cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
300g Quorn mince
1 x tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 x teaspoon of sugar (raw is best)
1 x teaspoon dried Oregano
3 x tablespoons of red wine
1 x vegetable stock cube
1 x tablespoon of gravy powder (we used chicken- it has no real chicken in it.)
2 x cups of water (at least one boiling- to dissolve stock cube)
salt and pepper to taste
1 x packet of shortcrust pastry
1 x packet of puff pastry
1 x egg yolk (beaten)
some pie trays and/or muffin tin.
I've said before, I'm a firm believer in getting all your ingredients measured out before you start, it takes away most of the mess and all of the rushy-rushy vibes whilst cooking. Cooking should be an enjoyable process (otherwise why not head out to eat?) and if you're left with a huge mess at the end or you're swearing trying to get the gravy powder open before the mince burns and oh holy cow, nothings going right, help help help! Then clearly, that is not fun. Here's a secret: I put away all those bits and pieces I didn't need anymore in the picture above before I started. I'm a genius right? Enough of that.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. We don't do fahrenheit in this country, so you'll have to convert it, I'm afraid. This internet is a wonderful place. Also, know your oven. Basically, you just want to slowly cook these guys until they're just about to go brown, adjust the temperature for that with your oven.
The first thing to do is create the pie shells. I guess you could buy them if you don't have time to make them. I guess you could also make the pastry, if you had the time. I opted for a packed of frozen short crust pastry, which I thawed to 90% before starting. I knew that my pie tins where just a little bigger than a muffin/cupcake tray and that I also would have enough mixture to make extra pies in the muffin tray SO I took a cupcake patty pan (the paper thingy), cut four slits in it to flatten it and used it as a size guide. You could also use a round cookie cutter, if you were smart enough to own one in advance (i wasn't, clearly). For the cupcake sized ones I cut around exactly, for the larger ones I cut around slightly bigger. I did this with a knife, freehand.
Next I greased the muffin tray with butter. Then put them into the shells and tray, cutting off the excess. Go easy on the cutting though because they may shrink a little. I poked the heck out of them with a fork. Seriously, it looked like a crime scene in those little shells when I was done. This is so important, otherwise they will shrink and go all air-bubbly. Which is bad. Make sure you're going right through with the fork, too.
Put them in your oven and set a timer for 15 minutes. While they're baking, it's time to make the mixture. Put your olive oil in a big fry pan and when it's heated add the garlic.
Fry the garlic in oil for a couple of minutes and before it's brown, add in the Quorn mince. It doesn't matter if your mince if frozen or thawed, honestly. Fry that with the oil and garlic for a few more minutes.
Next, add in the sugar, red wine, 1 cup of water plus a second cup of water in which the stock cube has been dissolved, the dried oregano and gravy powder.
Stir it all in together and behold a huge sloppy mess. Don't worry, you're going to cook off almost all the liquid, allowing the gravy to thicken the sauce into, well, gravy and also for all the flavours to be absorbed into the mince. Get it to simmering. You can pretty much leave it alone now, but for the occasional stir to stop a skin from forming. Taste it before salting and peppering, the stock and gravy bring a lot of salt so you may not need any at all!
Right about now your timer should be going off. If the shells are cooked, or almost cooked this is good news! If not, put them back in for a little longer. Mine were, see?
Now, while the mince sauce is reducing I cut out some decorations for my four bigger pies. This is optional but i'm in love and stuff, so I freehand cut these with a knife out of some puff pastry:
Then I used one of the pie trays to cut the pie lids of of puff pastry. Note: this will NOT work if you let the puff pastry thaw all the way. It's sticky and goopy. Only thaw it out about 50%. Again, I just traced around it with a knife.
Spoon the mince mixture into your pies! Obviously, don't over fill them. I made 4 medium pies plus 8 cupcake sized ones and had leftover mixture. I think you could make 12 cupcake sized ones in addition to the bigger ones. Or you could make one big pie or more medium ones. It's your kitchen dude.
Use your fingers and some water to wet all around the edges of the filled pie shells then press the lids down firmly. I had a little excess on the lids which I folded down over the sides and pressed in. This next bit is the only bit that isn't vegan. If you want to do it vegan substitute the egg for olive oil or water. Brush the beaten egg yolk over the lid. Brush it over each side of your decorations and press one side onto the pie lid. The yolk with hold it on as the pies bake. The yolk will also give your pies a nice glass and help them crisp up.
Put them in the over for 15 minutes. I turned my oven up to 200 degrees celsius. Remember, the filling is already cooked (and still hot!), all you're doing is finishing cooking the shells and cooking/browning the lids. Keep a good eye of them. As you can see, one of my pies was on the verge of burning!
For some reason I feel like meat pies are a real 1970's thing. I'm probably wrong but regardless, I got out the '70s plates. I love them so much.
And since in a modern pie context I should have been drinking a beer and watching the footy, I drank an alcoholic apple cider. Ok, I drank half an alcoholic apple cider.
We served it with steamed cauliflower and brocolli, covered in salt and pepper. Don't forget the tomato sauce (ketchup/catsup), you need lots and lots or else you're unAustralian, or something.