‘Tis the season to combine dinner and dessert. Meat pies!
I recently went to visit a friend in Australia. If you ever get the time/money/chance to go, I highly recommend it. What a wonderful country, so full of beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and, of course, I met some exceptional people. While I was there, I really wanted to try kangaroo because, you know, it’s a thing. They are pretty much the only country that eats their national emblem. (Really, don’t feel bad for the ‘roos – they’re everywhere yet at the same time not going anywhere.) So I found this great little pie place in Port Douglas and you know what? That shit tasted pretty much just like venison. My kangaroo pie was basically just a pie filled with kangaroo stew. Lovely, if I do say so myself.
When I went to recreate this, my first issue was sizing. Their pies were large enough to be a whole meal, about a 6-inch diameter. Since I couldn’t find a pie-shaped cooking vessel that was sized in between a muffin and a whole pie, I decided muffin sized ones would be the way to go. Meat pie slices just didn’t make sense for some reason. I also ran out of muffin holes and only have one muffin tin so I ended up making a bigger one in this little dish. My husband ate the whole thing (and then some).
Secondly, I didn’t want plain old stew in my pies. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had venison stew and let me tell you it’s delicious, but I’m over it. I wanted something a little easier/faster to put together and a more interesting flavor combination. Enter leeks, lemons, and rosemary, and get ready because it’s deliciofantabulous.
Lastly, I loved the little kangaroo cutout on the pie. Yes, they put those on there so they can tell them apart when they sell them. But, clearly I must completely steal the idea. Well. I didn’t have a deer or elk cookie cutter on hand. BUT – I just so happened to have a moose cookie cutter on hand. Why? I don’t bake, and if I did I certainly wouldn’t bake cut out cookies. So why? Because IKEA, people. Who knows why you buy anything there, really. It’s so cheap it’s practically free. That’s why. And a moose is close enough. It’s all called “venison.”
When you make these, do yourself a favor and buy the pre-frozen pie crust that you roll out, not the ones that are already shaped into a pie. If you get those, you have to microwave them to make them more pliable, but you can’t nuke them too long or they will melt. And how well do you really do keeping an eye on things in the microwave? All you gotta do is turn around for ONE SECOND and then next thing you know it’s both melted to the bottom and exploded. Also, make a double batch if you’re feeding more than 4 because people eat a lot of them in one sitting.
Non-game substitution: This would be good with ground anything really. The flavors would really sing with some ground chicken.
Vegetarian Substitution: It’s hard to make a vegetarian meat pie – but you could probably use white cannellini beans instead of meat to make a pretty delicious savory pie.
Mini Meat Pies with Rosemary and Leeks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 4 leeks (well washed and thinly sliced, white and pale green parts only)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1lb ground venison
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (minced)
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 cup water
- salt to taste
- 3 pie crusts
- flour for dusting
- 1 egg beaten (for an egg wash)
|Heat the oil or butter on medium heat heat. Add the sliced leeks and sauté until wilted. Add the garlic and continue to cook another minute or two. Add the rosemary and lemon zest and the ground meat and break up the meat as it browns. Add the water, salt to taste and bring to a boil and let simmer until the liquid has reduced by half and it takes on a thick, stewy consistency. If the stew remains too liquidy, add a little cornstarch mixed with water to thicken. Once finished, add the juice from the lemon and take off the heat.|
|Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C or gas mark 6). While the filling is stewing away, pay a muffin tin with pan spray and lightly dust with flour. On a floured surface, roll out one of the pie crusts. Using a large coffee mug or round cookie cutter, cut out large circles and fit them in the bottom of the muffin tin. Press each circle into the muffin tin. The pie crust should mostly fill the muffin tin. If it doesn't, find a wider mouth glass to use. Then, using a smaller mouth glass or cookie cutter, cut out smaller circles of pie crust for the top. Brush with an egg wash if desired.|
|Fill the little pies with the meat mixture and press a smaller pie crust circle on top. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 F (180 C, gas mark 4) and bake until the crusts are golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before popping the mini meat pies out. Serve warm or room temperature.|