I have had a strange obsession lately about making a meat pie. One of the best food memories I have is of eating my first meat and gravy hand pie at a locals rugby game in New Zealand a few years back. It was warm and steamy with a lovely flaky crust, and the air was crisp and damp as men in their thirties, forties, and fifties thrashed each other on a muddy field for fun. I still remember the day and the players and the fans in the stands. I believe it was there that I fell in love with rugby, New Zealand, and meat pies.
I have since had several renditions of meat pies, and none (but those in NZ during that same trip) have satisfied. Not even this version did, but it was still delightful and I’m sure that I will modify the recipe again to bring it closer to that brisk afternoon outside of Hamilton, NZ.
While we are slowly working meat out of our diet, we are not removing it entirely. This is a meal that allows us to use meat as part of a meal, stretching it further than a hamburger or steak might. This made six very large servings of hearty food using a pound of beef.
French-Canadian Meat Pie
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
One double-pie crust (I admit to using store bought this time, but pie is NOT my forte. At all. Some day I will master the pie crust, but I picked this up at our new organic grocery co-op.)
1 to 1 ½ t. salt
2 c. water
1 ½ c. peeled potatoes cut into ½-inch dice (12 to 14 oz, 1 large potato)
1 lb ground beef (I “ground” my own in the food processor)
1 c. chopped onion (4 to 5 oz, 1 large)
1 c. diced carrots (2 carrots)
1 c. chopped mushrooms (5-6 medium button)
2 garlic cloves (more to tasted), peeled and minced
¼ t. ground cloves
1 t. ground thyme
½ t. ground sage
1 t. ground black pepper
1. Put the salt, water, and potatoes in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender.
2. While potatoes are cooking, brown the meat. Add onions, carrots, mushrooms and spices to the meat. Drain the potato water into the meat and vegetables. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, continue simmering the mixture for 30 minutes or longer, until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are tender.
3. Mash about half the potato chunks and add them to the meat. Gently stir the remaining chunks of potato. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. (Cooling can be accelerated by placing mixture into a metal bowl and resting it into a larger bowl filled with cold or ice water, stirring the mixture over the cold water to cool it down.)
4. Assembly: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Take one piece of dough from your refrigerator, unwrap, dust both sides with flour, and roll it out to about ¼ inch thick, or so. Or, pull the pre-rolled dough from its plastic wrapper and line a 9-inch pie plate with either prepared or pre-fab dough. Fill dough with cooled meat mixture. Roll out second dough ball or pre-rolled crust and place it over the filling. Trim excess dough and crimp the edges together with a fork or your fingers.
5. Cut vents in top crust and brush with egg wash, if desired. Bake pie for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce oven temp to 350 and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, until pie is golden brown.
6. Let pie cool for 15 minutes or so to set up before slicing.
7. Serve with a lovely salad and ketchup or tomato chutney. We used our homemade ketchup, which was lovely.