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What is the ideal way to prepare (and the type of) beef for a homemade meat pie?

I'm really interested in ..
1. whether there is a certain preference for the type of cut to use.
2. how much you should cook (if at all) the meat before you put the pie in the oven.
3. Is there a certain size that works best (for cooking purposes more so than eating).
4. Should I remove all of the fat content before searing?
5. Is there an ideal ratio of meat to gravy in the pie?
6. I want a meat pie where the meat content is still a bit tender, but the gravy is hot. any tips?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Your filling is basically a beef stew/casserole, so any cuts that suite long slow cooking are fine. They get cooked again while the pie is baked, so premium cuts will just be wasted

The lower grade and 'off cut' parts are what are most commonly used. Like rump, brisket, chuck, shank, neck etc

Using a bench top slow cooker makes cooking this all very easy. The beef needs to be fully cooked before making the pie. An eight hour slow cook is fine

You want the pieces to be a variety of sizes to fill out the pie shape, but make sure you have some at least the height of the pie filling. The larger pieces tend to be better, but that could be a matter of taste and culture

You need to get rid of plenty of fat before and after cooking. A mouth full of fat in a pie is not nice. There is already plenty of fat in the gravy and pastry, so trim off all you can

A good meat pie should have a solid layer of meat connected with gravy, not swimming. It should also not be so full as you can't eat it with your hands (for a single serve pie) without loosing half the contents

Puff/flakey pastry works best and holds everything together

Avoid overly strong flavoured gravies, you don't want to hide the beef and pastry taste

Before you attach the lid, place a slice of tasty cheese, or an extra generous serving of cracked pepper on top of the filling

A respectable pie looks like this - thanks to Ponsonby Pies (not made in Ponsonby anymore)

alt text

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1  
+1 for gorgeous picture that explains your answer well. –  Martha F. Dec 8 '10 at 19:22
    
Many steak pies in the UK tend to have a double crust with a shortcrust bottom and a puff/flaky top - is your suggestion to use puff for top and underside? –  Orbling Dec 8 '10 at 22:21
    
For plate serving either, for party food or for a portable lunch only use puff –  TFD Dec 9 '10 at 2:46

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