Man Pies

It’s easy to love autumn. The crisp minty mornings, the array of beautiful colours on the trees and those first cravings for comfort food.

On my table in the past couple of weeks: slow-baked lamb shanks, pea and ham soup, Moroccan beef shin stew. And these hearty steak and mushroom pies (recipe below).

If, as Mr LP says, quiche is really called Lady Pie, then surely these pies, rich in beefy Stout flavour, are the manly equivalent?

Mr LP has been busy juggling study, work and rugby commitments lately so I thought I would spoil him a bit with man pies. He got home from training and practically inhaled one!

Once the meat is done, it’s easy to convert what is essentially a delicious stew into equally delicious pies. Especially when you cheat by using pre-made puff pastry, as I did (sorry, I realise this is a food blog but time is precious and that puff stuff is a bitch to make)!

Speaking of man pies, my man made me a spectacular pie (ok, tart) on Mother’s Day. Remember how he was up for the challenge of a Heston Blumenthal chocolate and passionfruit tart? Well, he nailed it and then some.

And not just that, he chefed an entire lunch for my Mum, Nan, sister, aunty, uncle and nephews too!

We three generations of mums were more than spoilt with lobster tails for entree followed by Maggie Beer’s lemon and tarragon roast chicken and then That Tart for dessert.

I may have been a little tipsy by the end of the afternoon, care of the pomegranate cosmos my little sister Dani was mixing!

Decorations and table by my clever little stylist sis!

It was wonderful to have everyone together around a laden table while I relaxed in the sun and watched my little one run around with his cousins.

My two boys. Lights of my life. More man pies on the menu around here!

Larissa xx

Steak and mushroom "Man Pies"

Makes 6 individual pies (you will need pie tins or foil pans), one large pie or a dozen mini pies

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
250g (about 8 medium) Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
500g chuck steak, chopped into casserole sized chunks
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
300mls Guinness
1 tbsp tomato paste
¾ cup beef stock
6 sheets quality all-butter puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked

Preheat oven to 160C.
Heat a generous glug of olive oil and a knob of butter in a heavy-based oven-proof casserole pan.
Gently fry the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and herbs until soft, golden and fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
Toss the beef in the flour to coat and shake off any excess.
Turn the heat to medium-high and brown the beef in the same pan you used for the vegies. Fry in batches if the pan is too crowded. You don’t want to stew it; you want it to be nicely browned and tasty.
Add the Guiness to deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any bits stuck to the bottom.
Add the beef stock and tomato paste and give it a stir. It should be simmering nicely.
Add the vegies back in along with the mushrooms and stir again.
Season with salt and a good grind of black pepper. 
Bring it back to a simmer and then transfer to the oven for 2 hours, checking and stirring every 40 mins or so.
It’s done when the beef is tender and the sauce is gravy-like. If you think it’s too sloppy for your pie, put it on the stove (hob) again, uncovered, and simmer until it reduces to your preferred consistency. I left mine overnight in the fridge so it was perfect to use the next day.

For the pastry, preheat oven to 200C.
Cut out your pie shapes, top and bottom, from the thawed pastry sheets (I used a slightly larger bowl than my pie tins as a guide and traced around it with a knife. This allowed me to make two pies per sheet of pastry).
Press the bottom pastry halves into your pie tins, cover with baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans or rice. Blind bake for 10 mins.
Remove the baking weights and paper.
Place filling in the pie shells and cover each one with a top half of pastry.
Stab each pie a couple of times on top to let out steam and brush the tops with egg yolk.
Finish with a small sprig of rosemary in the centre of each.
Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 mins or until puffed and golden.
Delicious with a tall glass of Stout or a meaty Shiraz.  Any form of claret really!


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