Culture Street

Serves 8

Although I usually make this pie with my Sour-cream Pastry, when given the challenge of making it with a luscious gluten-free pastry I couldn’t believe just how wonderful it was. As part of the TV series The Cook and The Chef, the ABC suggested I test out the pies at Colin’s squash club, as they always have supper at the end of competition nights. I might add that as it’s the Barossa squash club, the supper is usually quite a different kettle of fish from that served at most other sporting clubs. Many local wine- makers are members, and on the table that night there were at least eighteen bottles of really top-quality red; it was winter, after all, and they had been told I was coming with a beef and shiraz pie.

I made 32 individual pies, half with Choux Pastry-style Gluten-free Pastry and the other half with a cream cheese-based gluten-free pastry. The fascinating thing was the overwhelming support for the choux pastry-style, which absolutely flummoxed me as my own preference was for the crisper, more shortcrust style of the cream cheese version. The players were so enthusiastic that I think they would each have eaten a second one if I’d made enough. It was obvious that the combination of hard exercise, a cold winter’s night and the seductive smell of freshly baked pies had great appeal – I think they’ll ask me back.

While I slowly braise the meat in a crockpot on its lowest setting, it could easily be cooked in a heavy-based cast-iron casserole over low heat with a simmer mat or in a 120°C oven for a few hours.

Ingredients
plain flour, for dusting
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg Coorong Angus Beef chuck, or other quality beef chuck, cut into 3 cm cubes
extra virgin olive oil, for cooking 400 ml shiraz
1 medium–large fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
400 g golden shallots, peeled 4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups (500 ml) veal or Golden Chicken Stock
1 sprig rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
finely chopped rind of 1 orange 16 green olives, pitted
1 × quantity Sour-cream Pastry
1 egg, beaten

Method
Season the flour with salt and pepper, then toss the meat in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. In a large deep frying pan, seal the meat in olive oil over high heat in small batches until all the meat is browned.
Heat a crockpot to its highest setting, then transfer the sealed meat to it. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, reducing it by three-quarters over high heat, then add the wine to the crockpot. Return the frying pan to the stove, then add more olive oil and sauté the fennel and shallots over medium heat for 6–8 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to the crockpot, then add stock to the frying pan, bring to a rapid boil over high heat then add it to the crockpot with the herbs. Cook on the highest setting for 30 minutes, then turn to the lowest setting and cook at this low temperature for about 6 hours (or even overnight), until the meat is melt-in-the-mouth tender, adding the orange rind and olives in the last 20 minutes. Let the beef mixture cool.

Meanwhile, make and chill the pastry.

To assemble the pies, roll pastry to a 5 mm thickness and cut to fit the bases of 8 individual pie tins (you can buy standard-sized disposable foil pie tins from the supermarket). Make sure the pastry bases overhang the lips of the pie tins, and brush the bases with beaten egg, to help seal in the juices. Cut out the pastry tops.

Divide the beef mixture among the pie tins and cover with the pastry tops. Fold the edges of the pastry to seal, then brush the tops of the pies with beaten egg. Return the pies to the refrigerator for the pastry to really set; about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place the pie tins on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

9781921384257Recipe and images taken from Maggie Beer's Autumn Harvest Recipes, published by Penguin, $29.99. Buy the book here.

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