The Australian meat pie is one food item that is deemed to be a truly local culinary meal. It is also an iconic snack that goes hand in hand with Aussie Rules Football. I like the idea of pies, they are such a comforting and traditional food, especially when well anointed in bottled sauce, but as I don’t eat meat, the native version is not for me. I’m also not a fan of football, but as the AFL Grand Final is today, I may watch a short segment of the match, perhaps the last 5 minutes, as I eat my very untraditional Australian scallop pie. Two Victorian teams will be battling it out, they tell me, the Cats and the Tigers: I may keep some earphones handy and listen to music as it’s the sound of football I dislike the most. I don’t mind a few close ups of the lads climbing all over each other in their attempt to get their hands on that leather ball. As the state of Victoria remains under strict lockdown, the finals match will be played in Brisbane, Queensland, a state that has managed to avoid the plague so far.
During this extraordinary year of the pandemic and consequent very strict lockdown, I’ve developed my pie making skills, thanks to the discovery of a base recipe by Australian chef Neil Perry. I’ve discovered that the success of a good pie, which in my case is either vegetarian or seafood, comes down to the flavour and texture of the glutinous sauce which binds the ingredients together. I’ve played with Neil Perry’s base sauce recipe many times now and have adapted it to the ingredients and herbs that grow in my garden. So far, I’ve made pumpkin and carrot pot pies, leek, potato and cheese pies, and these wonderful scallop pies. Once you master this sauce, you can add anything really. The pie filling can be placed in a ramekin dish and topped with puff pastry, or you can use pie molds for a complete top and bottom pastry lined traditional pie. It’s worth spending a little extra on very good commercial puff pastry, especially if you’re planning to fill them with expensive, seasonal Bass Straight scallops.
I’m breaking this recipe into a few parts. The first part deals with the binding thick gravy. I’ve adapted the original recipe from Perry and switched to stock for the liquid ( the original used milk). I’ve also added mild curry powder for these scallop pies, but use Dijon mustard for other vegetable versions.
Very adaptable thick pie gravy recipe, enough for 4 pies
- 80 gr butter
- 1 1/2 Tb EV olive oil
- 1 leek, white and pale green parts, finely sliced
- 2 Tb wild fennel herb finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- sea salt, freshly ground white pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper, a pinch
- 1/2 cup plain ( AP) flour
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups stock, made from stock cubes or powder, warmed
- 1 heaped teaspoon of mild curry powder such as Keens
- 1/4 cup cream
- zest of 1/2 lemon, optional
- small handful of flat leafed parsley, finely chopped
To make the sauce, heat the butter and olive oil in saucepan over low heat. Add the leek, fennel herb, garlic, a pinch of salt, white pepper, cayenne and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the flour and curry powder and cook until the mixture bubbles and becomes grainy, stirring as you go.
Gradually pour in the wine, stirring well, then gradually add the warm stock. Continue stirring until the mixture bubbles. Add in lemon zest and parsley, the taste and check seasoning.
The filling and pastry for scallop pies, enough for 4.
- 300 grs fresh scallops, remove hard digestive tracts on side, cut large scallops in half
- 1 potato, around 120 gr or so, peeled, diced and cooked in water for 10 minutes
- 1 pkt of good quality butter puff pastry sheets. You’ll need four sheets for encased pies or two sheets for ramekin pastry topped pies.
- 1 egg mixed with 1 Tb milk, whisked together for the pastry glaze
Putting the pies together
After you’ve made the pie gravy, add the raw scallops and cooked diced potato to the mixture. Cool the mixture while defrosting the puff pastry sheets.
Grease some pie tins and line with pastry cut to shape. Fill the pies with cooled scallop mixture. Top with pastry lids cut to shape and crimp well, joining top to lining. Brush the egg glaze over the pastry. Pierce or fork the top of each pie to allow the steam to escape. Place the pies on a baking tray and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200c or 180 c FF. Bake the baking tray in the centre of the oven and bake for round 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.
If you make a version of these pies, using the special thick and flavoursome gravy recipe, let me know. I’m keen to collect more good versions.
Below is a collage of my week in Instagram pics. Instagram is a lot less demanding than blogging, especially now that WordPress has changed its editing programme. Am I the only one struggling to adapt to this new geeky block editor?