The Australian meat pie is a hand-sized pie containing diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes with onion, mushrooms, or cheese and often consumed as a takeaway food snack.
The meat pie is considered iconic in Australia and New Zealand. It was described by former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr in 2003 as Australia's "national dish".
The Victorian pie brand Four'N'Twenty produces 50,000 pies per hour and Australians consume an average of 12 meat pies per year.
The Victorian pie brand Four'N'Twenty produces 50,000 pies per hour.
Hmmm, I polish off around 12 of these beauties in a month - let alone a year - so there must be a lot of people who aren't eating their share!
The meat pie is heavily associated with Australian rules football and Rugby League as one of the most popular consumed food items whilst watching a game.
Even one of our former Prime Ministers, Julia Gillard, likes to tuck into a good ol' Aussie Pie now and again
But are they healthy?
Former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr launched a childhood obesity summit in 2002, where he told participants that feeding children a diet of meat pies, sausage rolls and chiko rolls was akin to child cruelty.
In April 2002, the Australian Consumers Association (ACA) conducted a study of 22 frozen meat pies available in supermarkets. They found three brands did not meet the minimum 25 per cent meat content requirement set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), and that the fat content ranged from 15 to 35 grams of fat per pie.
The ACA study was of a select group of frozen meat pies in supermarkets, thus the study does not account for freshly baked meat pies of which the meat content and nutritional value varies from bakery to bakery.
Another study by ACA in 2006 found 5 of the 23 pie products tested had less than the minimum 25% meat required.
In 2006, The ACA awarded pie manufacturer Black and Gold "The CHOICE Shonky Award for UnAustralian Content" for their pies found to contain just 17% meat.
Do you really know what you're eating?
The meats allowed by FSANZ to make up at least 25% of a meat pie are...
- rabbit, and
Kangaroo meat, a leaner alternative, is also sometimes used. However, most pie manufacturers specify 'beef' in their ingredients list; typically, those using other types of meat will simply put 'meat' in the list instead.
FSANZ's definition of meat includes...
- tongue roots
- tendons, and
- blood vessels.
Only offal (such as brain, heart, kidney, liver, tongue, tripe) must be specified on the label.
Wild animals ("slaughtered ... in the wild state") may not be used.
Be warned though, pies can be lethal!
Bruce Holland, 64, was taking part in a half-time contest during a televised football game at the Bushland Beach Tavern, a pub in Townsville in north Queensland. He collapsed while eating the pie at 9pm on Wednesday night and was rushed to hospital but died around 10.30pm.
Arthur McMahon, from Lillywhite Hotel Group, owner of the pub, said Mr Holland was well-liked and immediately volunteered when some others at the tavern suggested holding its first pie-eating contest.
Mr McMahon told The Townsville Bulletin...
“He was always up for raffles or anything and used to like winning things,”
“There were seven other people in the competition and the meat was not overly hot He started to gasp and sat down with a glass of water and then passed out.”
A friend, Michelle Bradley, said she saw him utter his final words but was unsure how he died.
“Was he choking on the pie?” she said. “Did he lose breath and have a heart attack?”
Police said the exact cause of the death was unknown and a report was being prepared for the coroner. It is believed Mr Holland suffered a heart attack.
Another local, Paul Jacobs, said the close-knit community was stunned by the accident.
“I have been to plenty of State of Origin [football] matches at the Tavern and they were always great nights,” he said. “We will all be thinking of his family and friends.”
The fastest time to eat three mince pies is 54 seconds and was achieved by Robert Edward Lee (Australia), in Ellenbrook, Australia, on 17 August 2013.
The Great Aussie Meat Pie Making Contest
Started in 1990 and held annually since, the Great Aussie Pie Contest was created to find the best everyday commercially produced meat pie produced in Australia, to promote the higher quality pie production as well as attempting to increase media attention upon the foodstuff, the iconic meat pie often dwarfed by the omnipresent advertising of fast food chains.
Bakers and Pie Makers from all over Australia converge alternately in Sydney & Melbourne each September to compete for the most sought after award in their industry, The Official Great Aussie Pie Competition.
Run in parallel to the main contest is one for gourmet pies, with categories for such fillings as chicken, seafood and even vegetarian pies.
As well as the main prize, certificates of excellence are awarded for entries that reach set quality standards. The main award is highly coveted due to the greatly increased sales it generates, with many people travelling interstate to sample the winning pie.
The Aussie Footy Pie Competition
This is intended to be a fun class that revolves around the latter end of the footy season.
This class allows the entrant free rein as to the top design of the pie which must depict in edible form, their favourite footy team with a few basic rules.
- This beef mince pie must be of good quality, &
- be suitable to be eaten at a traditional game of footy.
- The pie must be oval in shape as per the traditional football and must fit into the palm of the hand.
- Traditional good quality mince beef only to be used (not chunky)
- The Meat filling has to be firm and stable when hot (this is to allow the whole content of the pie to be eaten whilst watching the game and not get shirt-fronted!)
- The top of the pie has to depict your favourite team colours and applicable design. Of course only edible food colouring can be used.
- Pies will be judged on creativity and originality and marks out of 30 will be awarded.
- The filling and overall taste, stability, and quality of the pie will be marked out of 20.
- There will be no bias on the part of any judge taking part in the judging process.
- 2 Pies with the same design are to be sent into the competition. 1 entry per bakery.
A Typical Aussie Pie Recipe?
An Aussie icon, this classic pie is made with a shortcrust base and a rich beef mince gravy. There are literally hundreds of meat pie recipes. Here's a simple one to get you started...
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
- 500g lean beef mince
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 3/4 cup Massel beef stock
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
- 1 teaspoon Vegemite
- 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion. Cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add mince. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, or until browned.
- Mix cornflour and 1 tablespoon of stock to form a paste. Add remaining stock. Add stock, sauces and Vegemite to mince. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 8 minutes or until thick. Cool.
- Preheat oven to 220°C. Place a baking tray into oven. Grease 4 x 8cm base measurement pie pans.
- Cut 4 x 15cm circles from shortcrust pastry. Use to line bases and sides of pans. Fill with mince. Brush rims with water. Cut 4 x 15cm circles from puff pastry. Place over meat. Press to seal. Trim. Brush with egg. Season.
- Place pies onto hot tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Serve.
- Start fangin'