Australia, Food

As Aussie as Meat Pie

It is 1996 and I’m a young mum with two small sons. They’re two demanding boys, with big ideas and fertile minds. They want to play, but it’s time to prepare dinner for the family.

The oldest boy turns back to set up electrical circuits with batteries and LED light bulbs, whilst the smaller son, Master Three, gathers soft toys, from his prodigious collection, that would be the envy of any Sesame Street cast member and sets up a puppet show singing tunes of Thomas the Tank Engine. I turn back to the stove.

Besides the two boys and the Moth, there is a third child in the house.

Typical Danish country Church

I have a daughter I am about to lose. She is not mine, but one I am caring for and have grown so fond of. In less than a week from this night, she will return home to Denmark and we will miss her dreadfully.

Over the eleven months she lived in our family as a Danish Exchange student, we learnt things about Danish life and travelled to a gazillion Aussie places to show her as much of Australia as one can do, with two small boys in tow.

For her last meal on Australian soil, she asks if I can serve her an Aussie Meat Pie. Nothing fancy, just a Meat pie.

She tells me that there are no Meat pies served in Denmark and laments that she will miss those piping hot, oh-so-tender meaty chunks, steeped in rich gravy and covered with a rather messy, get-it-all-over-your-lap, flaky style pastry. Later that week, she eats that pie topped with blood-red squirts of tomato sauce. Yes, that means ‘ketchup,’ but it’s never called that here.

Meat Pie Etiquette

There are unwritten rules about how one should eat a meat pie, especially at the footy.

  1. Take off the pie top and eat.
  2. Squirt tomato sauce on top of meat.
  3. Eat tomato-sauce topped meat from inside the pie
  4. Eat the meatless pie crust last

When our dear “exchange daughter,” returns to visit us in a few years, her first request is:

“Can we have Meat pie for dinner?”

Origins of the Australian Meat Pie

An Australian meat pie was produced in 1947 by L. T. McClure in a small bakery in Bendigo and became the famous Four’ n Twenty pie. … Other manufacturers predate this, and the pie manufacturer Sargent can trace their pie-making back to 1891.

Wiki

Whatever its origin, Meat pie is as Aussie as a “snag” on the Barbie, as Kangaroos, AFL, (Australian Football), and Holden ‘utes.’ Which reminds me of a song, one that Bushboy might recognize?

Making a Meat Pie

I’ve not made a meat pie myself, so I have no special recipe to share. (Sorry to disappoint you, Sandy). For many years, I was vegetarian and I completely lost the taste for eating any kind of meat. But then the Geebung bakers came along and ruined my meat-free diet.

Trying to emulate the lofty cooking skills of The Bun ‘n Oven bakery, (in the very iconically named suburb of Geebung, in Queensland), or the highly acclaimed piemakers of The Yatala Pie Company, would be doomed to failure. These bakers are Kings in creating a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pie pastry with top quality ingredients. [And no, this is not a paid advertisement.]

Meat pies are found on offer at most Bakeries in Australia, along with the Lamington, another iconic Aussie food. Although you may find dubious imitations of meat pies, in the frozen section of any supermarket, you might need a cast-iron stomach to tolerate those of lesser quality.

Meat Pie Accompaniments

Some Australians prefer their Meat pies served with Mushy Peas atop, something that is more English than Australian, or a cottage pie, with potato and a sprinkle of cheese.

Classic.

Boringly, a Meat pie in our family NEEDS to be served with lashings of mashed potatoes and green peas. It’s essential, (according to the Moth), and he refuses to eat one without these mundane accompaniments.

In a modern world, where kale and chia seeds might reign supreme, this humble dish, with its high cholesterol reputation and high-fat content, is fast becoming less popular with Australians.

Readers brave enough to take on the Geebung Bakers could try this Meat pie recipe.

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88 thoughts on “As Aussie as Meat Pie”

  1. Oh my, bless you for hosting an exchange student. I’ve been a local coordinator for an exchange organisation. Darn hard to good and find willing host families. Well done. Pie looks amazing too.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was a local coordinator for about 12 years. Not one now. We’ve hosted 31 students for anywhere from 5 weeks to 12 months. We’ve had many more for less than 5 weeks. Wonderful memories and only one problem student.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is a pretty good record. It is a demanding job but I can imagine you would have been so good at it. Hosting with STS and another smaller organization was so rewarding, but I do notice that students are not as isolated as they used to be now they have access to social media. They talk to their friends and family back home so aren’t as reliant on integrating into the community here. That is one thing I noticed from 1996 and 2009 when we had the last student.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. A big thumbs up on this. When we have enough leftover beef tips or chicken, my wife will throw together a meat pie. It is one of those comfort foods. She usually has saved pie dough in the freezer for such purpose. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She sounds highly organized to have the pie dough in the freezer, Keith. I have some in my freezer but it is those pre-prepared pastry sheets. I can only make one good pastry from scratch – wholemeal quiche pastry.

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      1. Thanks. I should have said they were store bought, but she is organized. There used to be a cooking show with Sandra Lee called “Semi-homemade.” It was geared toward the busy cook, so Lee would suggest shortcuts like this. Another favorite is make a pot of rice on Sunday night for use throughout the week.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Meal planning is the key to being organized in the kitchen. I am never 100% organized for very long. There is always an extra ingredient I am missing and then modify the recipe to suit. That is a nice challenge. Now I put leftovers in the freezer to hand out to the adult children to take home and heat up in for dinner in their busy lives. It gives them a day off from preparing a meal. I like the pot of rice idea. White or brown?

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          1. White. We will eat rice with cheese for breakfast and it is always available for a side to a meal. Now, my wife will throw soy sauce in hers and eat that all day.

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  3. We love a good meat pie and I can.vividly remember tucking into them.down under. Despite not being the most healthy meal, like fish and chips – I believe anything is fine in.moderation as life wouldn’t be worth living otherwise! Hope you have had a good weekend Amanda!

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    1. Excellent point, Marion. Everything in moderation and Variety is key. I guess one can live without meat pie but it is nice to indulge in that occasionally. Relaxing day today, but I hope to get out on the kayak tomorrow. Are you up to much?

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        1. I always say I don’t care if it rains when I am on holiday. Because I am on holiday, there is no problem getting a little damp, and rain is very welcome in Australia. So I can empathise with your feelings.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for that inside. I would not have associated a meat pie with Aussies. I know the concept but … the way you write about it (footie and all) it seems to be the equivalent food of a German and his “wurst” (Bratwurst is only one of the many varieties you can get in a bun).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now you are sparking off the friendly rivalry that occurs between New Zealand and Australia. The fight over who invented the Meat pie, Tim tams, pavlova and Lamingtons. I say Australia for all of them. Naturally.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An enjoyable post Amanda. It was doubly entertaining because I had to look up a couple things … snags on the barbie & Holden utes (before I watched the video.) What’s in a Four & Twenty pie? is that the price or allusion to the nursery rhyme?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Four & Twenty pie is the same as any meat pie, Sandy. It is just the brand name and that company had the franchise (?) to sell their product at all the football grounds…. I have never eaten one so you can see how much a fan of football I am.

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    1. So it is a kind of Hawaiin staple too? Or was this somewhere else? As for the tomato sauce – I think it is overused here. I like it on a “snag” or sausage but never on a meat pie.

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      1. This was back in southwest England. One of Hawaii’s claims to fame is that it’s a leading consumer of Spam! It became popular in WWII – a meat product that didn’t need refrigeration – and has remained so ever since.

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          1. I think it’s eaten both ways. Certainly it’s a staple of cooking like beef or chicken. I like it OK cooked, but cold it reminds me too much of boarding school!

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I could say that it would be worth the trip down under to taste an authentic meat pie, but I won’t. We are a long way from American and Europe and a large country. You need time and unfortunately, a bit of money to travel around Australia. Some Swedish friends told me it was the most expensive country they had visited. Having said that, if you do come down, I would make you very welcome!

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      1. Thank you for that warm welcome. I’ve met a few bloggers in person here and would adore meeting you. I will no longer fly, but if I did, I’d have to go to Denmark first to visit our daughter.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love a good pie, I remember when they used to put the sauce on the pie & it would end up all over the inside of the bag, so we would use the base to scrape the sauce off the paper bag.lol. Now I shove the tomato sauce through a hole in the top of the pastry & as per Aussie recommendations, pastry top, middle & then base, often the dog would get the base as I cant quite eat a whole pie (small one that is). I have made one using our slow cooker to prepare the meat much healthier & still melts in the mouth. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s something we rarely have, except when in a long road trip. We always pack our lunches for the first few days, but then we usually succumb, seeing it as a bit of a treat. Paul thinks tomato sauce on it is gross, it’s a must though for me.

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  8. I recall that during primary school (Balgowlah Heights Public, for the record) that meat pies were available for purchase on (I think) every fourth Friday at lunchtime. These were special days and celebrated with much glee. It was a time before anyone had thought of the possibility of any alternative flavours – piping hot meat was the only option with, as you say, tomato sauce. These were Scott’s pies – supplied by a local producer that has, sadly, long ago surrendered to some larger conglomerate. One of my little friends had the surname ‘Scott’ and it was rumoured that he was in line to inherit the mighty Scott’s Pies empire. In truth it was a small mum and dad owned bakery with which he had no connection. But we assumed that whoever owned such an important organisation would be wealthy beyond imagination.

    On these special days we would all begin discussing eating technique at recess in anticipation of the big event. I assure you that there were many more approaches to the task than you embrace in your household, although removing the top prior to consumption enjoyed a certain popularity.
    No matter the technique, though, it was impossible for a group of 8-10 year olds to complete the task without smearing a combination of meat, pastry and sauce all over school uniforms.
    Magic days.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah yes, the tuckshop meat pies. I would love to hear the various ways you ate them at school. Taking the top off does cool them by some degrees as they are invariably hotter than Vesuvius if you bite straight into them when they first come out of the oven. Funny how kids always associate wealth to anyone connected with a business. Thanks ever so much for sharing your memories with me. I so enjoyed reading your comment and imagining those boys with their pies sitting on benches in the school playground. I think I can ever remember the white paper packets that usually came in. Now everything is incased in thin plastic. Grrr.

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  9. Years ago, we too had many exchange students staying with us. It was a really great time with all sorts of nationalities. A funny thing was that I taught Japanese students to boil rice! They were only ever used to electric rice cookers. I thought it was hilarious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is hilarious Gerard. Who would have thought the Japanese didn’t stick to the traditional ways? What other countries did the students hail from? Finland?

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      1. The students came from all over the place, including Holland, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea. It was all done through the university. We had a great time with all the students. There were never any problems.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Vive la difference 🙂 ! I arrived in Australia as a child and feel totally ‘at home’ here . . . rant and rave about our wonderful life to all friends overseas on a daily basis. Hmm ! Have never had a Holden car. Altho’ I watch a lot of sport, have never been to a football match or taken the time to watch on TV, Have tried one meat pie in my lifetime – out on an early date a dear beau took me down to an early food truck famously situated on the Sydney docks . . . . oh, I DO love kangaroos and very definitely ‘call Australia home’ !!! Fun post . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are still an Aussie now, Eha, no matter the car. That famous pie truck on the docks has featured in a few TV programs! Have you seen it?
      Psst.I don’t go to the footy either.

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  11. No one I know has gone off meat pies in favour of kale! You can’t beat a good meat pie and it must be eaten while being held in the hands – no cutlery necessary. There are so many places making great meat pies. I’ve sampled many! Have you ever visited your Danish daughter in Denmark?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I thought I report back that I tried the linked recipe for meat pie and my men were really taken by it. The idea of using 2 kinds of dough is genius because if you use flakey pastry all round it’s a lot messier (and less tasty). Thanks for the cooking inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

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