An ode to my Ma’s savoury mince pie


This is a meat pie that would make my mother proud.

I have said more than once that my mother was not the flashest of home cooks, and she is OK with that and still sends me birthday cards etc, etc, etc, but she could definitely throw together a damn fine fish fry, great meat with three (veg) and a cracking savoury mince. The latter would oft find it’s way into a cosy little fluffy jacket of golden brown puff pastry (with a few of those slightly-over-done-but-not-even-over-done-because-it’s-puff-pastry bits), much to our childhood delight.

Yup. She could make a pie.

And she would sure be happy with this pie. She would truly be happy with the filling. I mean, she wouldn’t have used beer, but it would certainly look the part. That coupled with the love only a mother can have for a child would be enough to ensure we could happily sit down and enjoy this together.

Aw.

Ahhhh, the savoury mince filling. you could pretty easily stop right here and just eat that on toast… maybe with a fried egg or two…

Make the pie.

Eat the pie.

SAVOURY MINCE PIE

(serves 4)

500 g beef mince
1 onion (brown, red, yellow, whatever), diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
½ zucchini (regular shop sized zucchini, Lucas)
1 cob corn, kernels removed (or ½ cup frozen corn kernels)
½ cup frozen peas
1 ½ tbls plain flour
1 can (375 ml) dark beer
Salt and pepper
2 sheets puff pastry (or enough to line a 25 cm pie dish)
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of milk), to glaze
Tomato ketchup, to serve

Heat a splash of oil in a pan / pot on a medium heat.
Sauté onion, carrot and carrot, with a pinch of salt and pepper, until starting to brown.
Add mince and sauté until that is starting to brown too. Break it up with a wooden spoon as you go so it doesn’t get all clumpy and meatball-esque.
Add flour and cook out for a minute, stirring to avoid burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add remaining vegetables and beer and cook out, stirring constantly, until a nice gravy is holding that meat and vegetable ménage together.
Check seasoning, adjust if necessary and then set aside to cool.
Pre heat oven to 220 C (430 F).
Line (or butter and flour) a 25 cm pie dish and use one sheet of puff pastry to cover, using off cuts to press into any extra gaps.
Fill pie base with cooled savoury mince.
Place the other sheet of puff pastry over the top of the pie dish and trim roughly to shape using a paring knife or something similar.
Pinch pastry together along the edge of the pie dish.
Make a little hole in the middle of the pie so the steam might escape.
Glaze top of pie with egg wash and bake in pre heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown (and a little bit darker in places).
Serve with tomato ketchup, chips, salad, peas, mashed potato, extra gravy, etc, etc, etc.

Pie.

PS If you’re the kind of person who gets pretty busy in the week with work and kids and all of the extra-curricular activity you participate in for the united gerbil appreciation association, then it is a really good idea to double or triple the recipe and make two or three (respectively) of these pies and freeze the extra down for easy busy-times dinner.
Just cook them for only 15 minutes or until lightly coloured to allow for the rebake and then wrap and freeze once cooled. Defrost it in the fridge overnight and it should be good to go by the time you get home from work the next day. Whack it in a 180 C (355 F) oven for 15 minutes or until it’s hot. Dinner’s up.

Humour, Australia Day and Hipster by proxy

IMG_9246
Um, I have a question.

Have people, like the total generalization of the human race, just lost their fucking sense of humour? Did we all just get so damn middle aged and serious? Have we all forgotten how much fun it can be to just have a good goddam laugh at our own selves, or even the small child who might fall over a hit his face on the concrete. Oh how we would laugh; ha ha ha, he he he, and all the while our mouths would be turned upwards, saluting the gods of funny and happy with the technique commonly referred as a smile…

Sam Kekovich being a lambassador
Sam Kekovich being a lambassador

And then this Sam Kekovich bloke comes along as the newly appointed “Lambassador” and champion of the lamb industry this Australia Day (Happy Australia Day PS), and upsets the shit out of the vegans because they don’t like being told to eat lamb. Honestly, they don’t need to eat the lamb. I would go so far as to say please don’t the lamb – I will look after your share without a problem.
Captain Cook got the call up for the Australia Day Lamb Campaign too
Captain Cook got the call up for the Australia Day Lamb Campaign too

Has the time left us when people would not think too far into television advertisements? Or has that time passed when people may have just turned the effing TV off and done exactly what they wanted to do as apposed to thinking that they are obliged to do what the TV tells them? If I tell you the truth, I am more than happy for these peeps to leave the lamb for me. More than happy! And, you know what? If it’s such a huge fucking issue, maybe they should just go and make their own television advert and tell everyone to eat something that isn’t lamb for Australia day; eat some gum leaves or billabongs or something like that and keep it real legit.
I had myself a lamb pie for Australia Day because a guy on the television told me I should
I had myself a lamb pie for Australia Day because a guy on the television told me I should

Which brings me to my next little issue… or whine… or waaaah waaah… or baaah waaaah (that was a bit of a lamby reference for those of you who weren’t paying attention); What about the prejudices against the middle aged, bearded, caucasion male, the weight of the hipster movement, and the rights of the common man to just wear a goddam beard?

Was that a segue? I doubt it. I have not yet seen a real live segue grace these pages, and indeed I do not expect to see one anytime in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, as you may or may not be able to tell, I am pretty effing sick of it (but at least I’ve calmed down enough to stop using the language of the herpes infested salty old sea dog), and I am ready to set this rant upon the world via the interweb super highway and a currently paid up-to-date account with my internet service provider.

If you don’t want to hear about it you should smash your computer now, because I am getting exponentially more confident by the minute…

I mostly blame Jennee, a) because it’s easy, and b) because she was so generous of spirit to point out that I kind of am a hipster by proxy… all except my name. I need a name that’s some kind of hybrid, left field, a surname first name or something from the Victorian era, and I could possibly scrape in with something Scandinavian at the very least. Christianeous, Leonard, Michaelangelo, Matheous…

And what the heck even is this hipster by proxy business I am talking about? Well, plain and simple I’ve just been asked once too often if I am a hipster.

Now I contemplate mowing my facial hair back to reveal the smooth face of a man I used to know and I also contemplate what it is about me that has made it so very simple for peeps to enquire as to whether my religion, or freaking out-look or whatever, is “hipster”…

I will tell you now; look carefully because there are a few key differences. Allow me to demonstrate;

Hipsters have large beards that are perfectly manicured and smell very nice because of the flowers they put in them – I have a large beard that is not manicured even one little bit and it doesn’t necessarily smell the best. Also, at any given moment, it contains enough barbecued meats for a Viking wedding celebration
Hipsters like cold brew, organic, artisan, ethically grown, small batch coffee – I like to drink cold coffee but my preferred method of attainment of said coffee is leaving it on the bench for an hour… so I guess it could be said that I actually enjoy cold stale coffee
Hipsters pay fat wads of cash for minimalistic, pared back design and re-purposed, ethically gathered materials – I fitted a restaurant out with plywood counters and tables because it was all that we could afford
Hipsters have a top knot – I am merely top notch
Hipsterism is on trend – Grazism is not even close to being on trend

So, as you can see, it is not actually that hard for us to be friends. If you cannot see how easy it is for us to be friends then, well, you are probably doing the weekly shopping while wearing active-wear at the moment and I am not actually qualified to help you with those problems and I can only pray that natural selection will take you from me.

Done.

That is my lamb pie, lid lifted and stuffed with mashed potato and mushy peas. Who ever decided this would be a good idea is a fricking genious
That is my lamb pie, lid lifted and stuffed with mashed potato and mushy peas. Who ever decided this would be a good idea is a fricking genious

PS I did eat your lamb in the form of an off-the-hook-good lamb pie from the Southern Queensland institution that is the Yatala Pie Shop. I “floatered” the living shit out of it with mashed potato, mushy peas and a kick-ass gravy that had little bits of meaty goodness in it. Soooo damn good!

Happy Straya Day.

The end.

Slow Cooking the Winter Chill Away…

SAMSUNG CSC
The first chill of winter never gets any easier. If summer is the firm tanned buttocks of the physically active young lady, then the first chill of winter is the pale sagging buttocks of the aged lady… polyester slacks included.

Yes, that is the first chill of winter – it’s a bitch of a surprise initially, but soon enough I will be used to it and accept it and love it like the mother would love her inbred child. Well, maybe not that much love, but soon I will acclimatize to the winter is the point I’m trying to make… I think.

As I sit here trying to warm myself from the alien experience that is the winter chill, on the couch, eating an ANZAC cookie, wrapped in a snuggle rug type thing I have stolen from one of my children, I contemplate things… I contemplate stuff… I contemplate that to an outsider I would look almost exactly the same as the bearded, street wise old hobo who hangs out at the local shops. Well shit Mr “outsider”, I am sorry for trying to keep my ass warm in this time that coldness descends upon us, and yes I am going to have another Anzac cookie. I am effing going to have another Anzac cookie. I am addicted to those things. If they were about when our troops went to war these cookies could have been gifted to the enemy and could have very possibly resolved any conflict before it had a chance to happen…

Also, as always, I contemplate what may constitute my next meal and how that meal is going to help to warm my body and nurture my soul and, well, just get some warmth into my life really. I don’t want a “warm hug”. No, in fact the next person I hear referring to a warming wintery dinner as a “warm hug” will quite possibly receive them self a warm flat palm straight to the face. No “warm hug”. Sorted? Right.

A slow braise, a ragout, a stew… what ever you may call it, it is truly one of the best things one can do for their person in times of such ominous chill.

It need not be a difficult process to transform some fridge stuff and a few things from the larder into a pot of awesome if you just follow a few simple ground rules. Not a recipe, just a formula to success.

So here is my secret formula, my family jewels, my third nipple… or just the things you need to make a decent braised pot of heart warming goodness;

A winter stew...
A winter stew…

Goes into some dishes and then steamed potatoes are pushed through the ricer to make a funny pattern that the kids like on top...
Leftovers go into some dishes and then steamed potatoes are pushed through the ricer to make a funny pattern that the kids like on top…

And then the whole nom nom nom thing happens
And then the whole nom nom nom thing happens

1. Something wet. No, no, no, your sheets are not going to do for this one little boy. We need moisture and we need viscosity (there is a whole other world I can head to with a lead-in line like that, but quite frankly even the Germans wouldn’t touch it, so I to will not be going there today…) as a saucy conduit for flavours to the journey from the plate to your face. Something like stock, booze, tomatoes or a combination can provide you with the sauciness you need
2. Some herb. The stuff you keep in the tobacco tin next to the scissors and the pack of cigarette papers on the top of the fridge will not do for this. If you are smart enough to have a few herbs in your garden then you will be winning right now. A few dried herbs in the cupboard will even find you a place close to the podium. Use grass and dirt if you have nothing else on hand
3. A secondary cut. This is not the knife wound the mass murderer inflicts when the first slash is ineffective, but instead it is the collective term for the cheaper cuts of meat that need a little extra love to achieve the state that is going to leave you laying back in a smoky, post-coital haze, much like the farmer in the pig stall. The cuts of meat less favoured by the consumer because of fuck knows why, because the smart money is on the secondary cut every time; tasty and cheap, much like the Thai lady-boy… except tastier… and not that cheap. But still plenty cheap. Chicken wings and even thighs, beef shin, chuck, cheek or brisket, pork shoulder or shank, lamb shoulder or ribs all fall into this category. Quite conveniently these are all of my favourite cuts. Lucky me
4. Slow cooking. Slow cooking. Slow cooking. Slow cooking is the secondary cuts besty. Without slow cooking the secondary cut is but dog scraps. These guys hang out and the magic happens, much like Torvill and Dean, Thelma and Louise or that guy and girl from Swedish 90’s pop-rock sensation, Roxette. Slow is good. Winter loves slow. A slow cooker will do this job just fine for you

So go now and slow cook some heart warming wintery goodness. Do it quickly.

And if you have leftovers fear not. For when you have leftovers you can put them in the freezer for a rainy day, or even better (or at least as good), put them in a pie. Whether your pie be encased in pastry – puff or short crust, or maybe a pot pie with a filo or potato crust just like the one I made today. Which reminds me, I set out today to pen a little piece about a pie I made with some leftover beef ragout (hence the pie pics) but as I often do, I got caught up in the moment and, after a brief flirtation with the point, I end jumping into bad and going ten rounds of the very best with a short story about the first chill of winter and how I’m going to sort that out so now that has become a story for another time.

I seem to be making it quite clear that I’ve been beating the chill with the whiskey so far… plenty of the finest brown paper bag covered Scotch whiskey.

That was some tasty braised beef shin
That was some tasty braised beef shin

LAST NIGHT’S LEFT-OVERS (or last day before shopping day) PIE

LAST NIGHT’S LEFT-OVERS (or last day before shopping day) PIE
And no. This is not a sneaky glimpse you caught of the trollop your flat mate brought home last night leaving in the morning

There is not even a recipe I can give you for this pie, just a few basic components you need to make it work…
• Puff pastry. Somewhere on your pie you should have puff pastry. Puff pastry tastes pretty damn good solo so that’s gotta be a good foundation, right. I should actually narrow the search on that last comment. Well-cooked, nicely browned puff pastry tastes great, soggy just-yellowy-brown puff tastes like shit and therefore should reside where all good shit resides… at parliament house. Or, in the toilet.
• Some kind of meat is pretty good in my books. It can be left over roast or stew or duck and pork cassoulet from the night before, or if you have something in the fridge that needs using, especially if it happens to be beef cheeks or lamb shoulder, you can braise it off and make a kick-ass pie filling (and if you have a pressure cooker you can do it in a quarter of the time).
• If you have some vegetables that need using chuck them in, just remember if you are putting them with meat that is already cooked then you will need to cook them separately first. Essentially this is to make sure they’re cooked in the pie because a pie with crunchy vegetables in it is not actually a pie. It’s a warm vegetable wrap or something silly like that.
• Got some leftover mashed potato or some potatoes you need to use or Irish friends coming over for dinner. Mashed potato is a very feasible topping for a pie. If you can get some cheese and breadcrumbs on it then it’s going to be lifted to a whole other level of specialness. And I’m not talking about rocking up in a twelve-seater bus, helmet on backwards type of special. I mean s-p-e-c-i-a-l.
• If all else fails and your pie tastes like shit (this is probably the moment where it can actually be concluded that you are not meant to be in the kitchen and all of my hard work has been wasted on you) just remember these final words of advice; Tomato sauce and pastry are a magical combination, no matter what’s inside.

Put the meat into the pastry. Make sure you have enough pastry to cover the pie
Cover the pie and brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with some fancy shit to impress your friends.
Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes or until the puff is lovely and brown.
Slice it open fool. What are you waiting for?
I just gotta have tomato sauce with a pie.
Nuff said…

My favourites
• Chicken, bacon, potato and leek
• Roast lamb with vegetables, red wine and rosemary gravy. Or any combination of left over roast and the sides you had with it. And the gravy. Don’t you dare effing forget the gravy.
• Mud pie
• Beef or chicken with red wine, mushrooms and eshallots
• Sausage (from the bbq you had a few days back), tomatoes, vegetables and herbs
• Leftover curry of any description is awesome. Thai, Indian, Mexican mole, anything
• Actually, any braised dish from the night before. You’re getting the picture right?

Last night’s left-overs really are the best shit ever!