Ah, the humble pie. With footy finals season well underway, what better time to take a closer look at this Aussie icon? Even if you're not a sports fan, it's still a great excuse to tuck into this pastry-clad favourite (like we need one).
What other dish is equally at home in a sporting ground, at a school canteen, or on a top quality restaurant menu?
But, here's the big question, where do you find the perfect pie in Brisbane? Is it a remake of the classic Four'N Twenty, or is it primped, plated and served with scrumptious sides?
Take It Away
Most of us grew up with a pie served in a paper bag with a sachet of tomato sauce, eaten on the go as you strategically attempt to avoid spilling gravy down your front.
And if an old school, no-nonsense pie is what you're after, where better than Beefy's at Cannon Hill? You know what you're in for from the outset — bigger, better, beefier pies guaranteed. This is childhood nostalgia wrapped in pastry, and man is it good.
For something a bit different, follow the queue at Jan Powers Farmers Markets to The Goat Pie Guy. There are six flavours to choose from, including the classic Deluxe (slow cooked goat meat with honey and thyme) and the Himalayan (goat meat with ginger, tomatoes and fragrant spices).
Piefection in Mt Gravatt is famous for its Jack Daniels' BBQ pork-rib pie, which you can have on its own or with a "floater" (that's mushy peas and mashed potato). If you can look past their signature dish, there are also more traditional flavours like Guinness beef and mushroom, or chicken and vegetable.
Pimped Up and Plated
If you're not a fan of eating on the run, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a pie in some of Brisbane's best restaurants.
Rhubarb Rhubarb in Wooloowin serves up a braised rabbit and lentil pie with pink peppercorn sauce and thyme.
Lock 'n' Load Bistro in West End offers a braised beef cheek pie with celeriac mash, green beans and horseradish jus.
Or check out Alfred and Constance's new summer menu featuring a duck and field mushroom pie, served with pear chutney, asparagus and spring leaves.
How It's Done
Pastry is key and the perfect combination is shortcrust pastry on the base for tenderness, and puff pastry on top for flakiness. Some will argue though that a plated pie is best served without a base, which can tend to get a bit soggy.
Most people are afraid to make their own but don't stress – there are some great store-bought pastries available now and Carême pastry in particular is as close to the real thing you'll ever find. Try their all-butter puff pastry and you'll never look back.
If you're feeling game, try your hand at a basic rough puff pastry (Find the recipe here).
Once you have your pastry casing, you need to fill it. Slow braised meat provides an element of luxury to any pie eating experience. The slow cook provides a depth of flavour, and the meat will fall apart.
Braised hare or rabbit works well, but may be a bit pricey. A cut of beef such as chuck steak will work really well and won't break the bank (or conscience of those who struggle with the idea of eating Bugs Bunny).
And for flavour? Do you go a booze-based gravy using ale or wine? Or perhaps highlight a particular flavour or spice like pepper or mushroom? It's up to you!
Our Classic Beef and Ale Pie Recipe
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stick of celery, diced
750g chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
345ml bottle of ale
375ml beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh thyme
¼ cup flour
375g pack of all butter puff pastry or 1 quantity of rough puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Heat the oil in a heavy pan and cook the onion, carrot and celery over a medium heat until soft.
While the vegetables are cooking, place the flour in a plastic bag and add the meat. Shake until each piece of meat is coated in flour.
Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon after around 10 minutes.
Fry the meat in the same pan for a few minutes until browned, but do it in batches so they don't overcrowd and start to stew.
Return the vegetables and add the ale, stock and herbs. Simmer for 1 ¾ hours until the cooking liquid has reduced by half.
Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Divide the mixture into four small pie dishes then allow to cool.
Roll the pastry out and loosely place over the top of the pie dishes. Press the edge into the rim of the dish with your fingers.
Cut a small hole in the centre and gently brush over the pastry with the beaten egg.
Cook at 180 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy, pie fans.
Image credit: Best Recipes