For the most part, my lifestyle journey is styled as a journey towards a sort of healthy living renaissance. Today, for instance, I ate virtuously at Tra Vinh for lunch [pho tai and braised beef pictured below] and cooked up some garlic pak choy for dinner.
With the nights cooling down in Perth, however, I sometimes need a stodgy meal to make me feel loved from the inside, and variations on the following recipe have fitted the bill on more than one occasion. And, from the opening picture and title, I guess you’re already aware that this is not a raw food/vegan post.
Recipe #83: Pepper steak pies. Makes 12 mini pies. Note that these freeze really well once made. To make these, you will need a traditional muffin baking tray and folded baking papers.
You will need:
► 4 cloves
► ½ cinnamon stick
► 1 tsp fennel seeds
► 1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
► ½ tsp salt [you may need more, to taste]
► 2 tsp peppercorns, freshly crushed [they have more flavour than the pre-ground pepper; add more or less pepper depending on your tastes]
► 1 large onion, diced
► 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
► 1 small sprig rosemary
► olive oil
► 1kg red meat, diced into 2cm cubes [I used chuck steak because it was on special]
► 2 bay leaves
► 1 cup red wine [or you could use a hearty ale instead]
► 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
► 1 large tomato, cut into 6-8 wedges
► 2 cups chicken stock
► 12 medium-sized mushrooms, cut into quarters or sixths [I used button mushrooms; Swiss browns would have been awesome]
► 8 sheets of puff pastry [this is the cheatiest part of the recipe because I don’t have a recipe that I can swear by. Does anyone have a fabulous puff pastry recipe they are willing to share?]
► eggwash [made by whisking 1 egg plus an equal quantity of milk]
Begin with the spice mix. Finely grind the cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and coriander seeds together with the salt. Stir in the crushed peppercorns.
Next, start making the pie filling. Saute the onion and garlic with the rosemary in a good splash of olive oil, in a large saucepan over a medium-hot hotplate/burner. When the onion looks transparent, add the spice mix and stir over the heat for about 30 seconds — until fragrant. Turn up the heat and add the meat and bayleaves and stir frequently; you want to brown the meat.
Once the meat is browned all over, which should take around 5 minutes, reduce the heat down to medium-low and add the red wine and Worcestershire sauce. Allow this to reduce by about half, then add the tomato; once the tomato has basically dissolved, add the stock. Allow this to reduce to a gravy then stir through the mushrooms. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then taste & season with more salt and/or pepper if needed. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool.
While the pie mix is cooling, prepare the pastry. Defrost the pastry without letting it get to warm. Place folded muffin papers into each space in the muffin tray.
Using a bowl, or freehand with a large knife, cut a large circle in the corner of each pastry sheet. The circles should be at least 2cm wider than that of each muffin space: these are the bases. Then, using a cup or mug, cut smaller circles from opposite corners of each pastry sheet: these are the lids. This will give you 8 pie bases and lids rather than 12, but don’t panic > when you re-roll and cut the leftover pastry, you will have enough bases and lids.
To construct the pies, prepare each pie base by pressing it into the folded muffin papers. Flatten out any folds in the pastry by pressing them against the sides of the muffin tray. When the pie filling is cool, spoon it into the prepared bases, then press on a lid, after brushing the inside of the lid with eggwash to aid its stickability.
When each pie has been prepared, brush the lids with eggwash and snip/cut out a hole (for steam escape while cooking). Bake in a 220°C oven for 10-15 minutes — until the top of each pie is golden brown.
Eat the pies by themselves or serve with a side salad.
I made a simple salad of cos lettuce, baby spinach, flatleaf parsley, truss tomato and gruyere, tossed in a blend of white balsamic vinegar, garlic-infused olive oil and a little Persian feta. Buonissimo!
** Warning: these pies are irresistibly scrumptious. Don’t do as we did and eat three pies when freshly-baked; it will lead to deliciously bloated feelings and the persistent compulsion to collapse on the couch. **