A couple of years ago, I went to a Christmas party in New York City. It wasn't a dinner party, but more of a "stand around and chat while you swirl wine in a glass and look fancy" kind of deal. I prefer sitting, preferably with my legs up and a bowl of cheese doodles in my lap. I also have neither an Armani sport jacket, nor a sweater with a big reindeer crocheted on the front of it, so I rarely fit in very well outfit-wise.
After a quick roll through the living room to confirm my lack of interest in the conversations there ("So you went with the tan leather in your Beemer then? Excellent choice." "Where are you skiing this year?") , I headed into the dining
room to check out the food and drink spread. It was traditional
holiday fare: sugar cookies, eggnog in a punch bowl, a fruitcake
(haven't we endured enough of those yet?), along with some slightly
more upscale snacks like chocolate covered strawberries. And, at the
end of the table, a pie.
"What kind of pie is that?" I asked.
"Mincemeat - would you like a piece?" I told the server that I would,
she served me up a chunk, and I took a bite. Which I considered
spitting back out. "There's no meat in this at all," I told her. "I
know. It's great though, isn't it?" No, not so much. Because as far as
I'm concerned, if you're going to get me all worked up by putting meat
in the name of the food, you'd better deliver some frigging meat when I
eat it. But, as it turns out, there's no meat in a mincemeat pie, no
damn meat at all.
Now the Aussies, the Aussies have it right. If
you go buy an Australian meat pie, it's filled with juicy meat, just
like it should be. So this week, a holiday present for everyone: three
variations on traditional Australian meat pies.
all starts with a delicious meaty filling. Toss some butter in a pan
and soften a finely minced yellow onion. Add a pound or so of ground
beef and brown it well. Remove excess fat, then add
can do pies in two ways: the big, round, majestic son of a bitch that
looks amazing on the table but needs cutting, and the small, compact
bastards that will disappear 38 seconds after they're brought out.
Personally I like the portability of the latter (plus, the
pastry-to-meat ratio is pretty sweet). For a big fella, grease a pie
plate and line with puff pastry, making sure that the dough comes up
over the edges of the plate to provide a good seal with the top. Help
the dough stand up to the meat onslaught to come by making sure the
meat mixture has cooled sufficiently, then spoon it into the pie plate.
Brush the edges with a beaten egg, then lay puff pastry on top to make
a cover, pressing the edges down with a fork to seal it to the base.
Trim excess dough and glaze the top and edges with more beaten egg.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and continue baking
for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
For the smaller pies,
use small pie pans or even cupcake pans and follow the same methodology
as for the large pie. Just make sure you get a good seal between the
top and bottom crusts, then bake at 425 for ten minutes, reduce heat to
350 and continue for 15-20 minutes or until you can't take watching any
longer. I just made this version for my family, and my daughter took a
bite of one and told me I was a god. So I've got that going for me.
can be shoveled down quickly, and without a fork; always a good thing.
Instead of filling pie pans, place approximately four-inch squares of
puff pastry on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon a portion of the
meat mixture into the center of each, then stretch and fold opposite
corners up and over the meat mixture, sealing them at the top and along
the seams. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 425 for ten minutes, then
reduce heat to 350 and cook until browned. The puff pastry causes these
guys to open like meaty flowers while they cook, exposing the goodness
within and attracting meat eaters like bees to a gigantic, sexy plant.
now you've got three ways to keep from ruining the holidays for meat
eaters, all of which are great and go well with rugby or
Australian-rules football. They also go a long way towards making up
for that crappy fruitcake your aunt Edna insisted on putting in the
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middle of the table, and almost make it worth listening to golfing
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and his holiday sweaters have meat crocheted on them.