In my thirty-something years of living in NZ, I have eaten a lot of pies. More than a hundred, less than a thousand. I love pie.
In New Zealand, the word pie usually refers to a meat pie, not the fruit pie you might find in the US. My pie of choice is the mince and cheese pie. With golden pastry, beef mince, gravy and a oozy layer of melted cheese, it’s a classic. Found in every school tuck shop, dairy, lunch bar, bakery and cafe across the country, this humble meal is portable, cheap and filling.
A fond pie memory: my 9th birthday party at the newly opened Rotorua Georgie Pie. Georgie Pie was a pie franchise that was KILLIN’ IT in the early ‘90s. Their $1 mince and cheese pie, a hand-held square in a paper sleeve. I thought it was the best thing ever. When we moved to Auckland the following year, we quickly located our closest Georgie Pie on Glenfield Road and made it our local. Loyal.
Like any ubiquitous food, the quality of mince and cheese pies found in the wild truly runs the gamut. The standard of pies has come a long way in the last few decades. Since Georgie Pie. They’ve gotten better overall, but you can still stumble across a piss-poor pie. Pies are not well known for quality ingredients which is why it’s super rewarding to make your own. You want something done well? You do it yourself.
I’ve shared a few different pie recipes on this blog, but I realised I’ve never posted a mince and cheese. Use the best beef mince and good quality cheese you can find. You will not regret it. I’m not one to brag, but this pie is the best mince and cheese pie I’ve ever eaten. Easily.
I used premium quality beef mince (ground beef) and a block of havarti cheese for this recipe. Mum used to buy havarti in the ‘90s but I had forgotten about it for years. It’s semi-soft Danish cheese, looks a bit like a block of butter and melts like a dream. Feel free to sub any cheese of your liking, a quality mozzarella would be bomb.
You’ll need 4 x 12cm pie tins for this recipe, and a 16cm diameter plate or bowl to as a stencil for the bottom pieces of pastry.
Mince and havarti pies
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 500grams (1 lb) premium beef mince
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Cooking spray (or butter)
- 200grams (7 oz) havarti cheese
- 4 sheets frozen butter puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
To make the mince filling:
- Place a sauté pan on high heat and add cooking oil, once hot, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes tender. Add mince and garlic, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon, cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add flour, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Cook for 2 minutes and then stir in beef stock, salt and pepper, scraping the pan to incorporate. Cover and turn heat down to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool before use (at least 20 minutes).
To assemble the pies:
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C (360F).
- Remove puff pastry from freezer.
- Spray 4 pie tins with cooking oil.
- Cut the havarti cheese into 4 even pieces and each of those pieces into 3 wide slices.
- Cut a 16cm round and a 12cm round from each sheet of pastry and carefully line each tin with the 16cm round. If you wish, using the offcuts, cut designs out with a knife or cookie cutter to use as decorative elements.
- Evenly divide the cooled mince filling between the tins and top with 3 slices of havarti each and top with a 12cm pastry round. Crimp edges to seal, adding optional pastry shapes for decoration. Poke holes across the top using the tines of a fork or a small knife and brush with beaten egg yolk.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden. Carefully invert pies from tins and serve. It is advisable to always blow on the pie before consuming*.
*This message brought to you by the NZ Police. 😀