Sunday 9 October 2011

Vegan Party Pies: Aussie "meat" pies for the footy

When children are born in Victoria
They are wrapped in the club-colours, laid in beribboned cots,
Having already begun a lifetime of barracking.
Hot pies and potato chips they will eat
They will foreswear the Demons, cling to the saints and behold their team going up
The ladder into Heaven

From "Life Cycle" by Bruce Dawe.

I first encountered this poem in high school.  Even then it resonated with me.  My dad's family were one-eyed Collingwood Football Club supporters.  My mum's father was a passionate Geelong supporter.  Most of my siblings and nieces and nephews have taken on the Collingwood team.  A few of us (me included) have barracked for Geelong.  Last weekend Collingwood and Geelong came face to face in the Grand Final for the first time in my life.  It was tense. 

That's my brother's kids above in their Collingwood footy jumpers.  I don't have the passion for football that I once had.  I have sat through enough Geelong defeats in Grand Final to still feel great delight when they win.  These days, though, I am more keen on the footy traditions of getting together and eating lots of food in front of the telly for the Grand Final.  

I went to watch the game with my family but wasn't allowed to mention the "Collywobbles".  I was allowed to mention the pies!  (For the uninitiated, Collingwood's mascots are the Magpies so they are affectionately referred to as the Pies.)  After discovering Ricki's Meaty Veg-Based Ground “Meat” recently, I still had a batch in the freezer.  I couldn't guarantee Geelong would win.  I decided I would at least succeed in making vegan party pies.

Australia prides itself on its meat pies.  Mince meat in a rich dark gravy in a golden flaky pastry case.  When I was young we called them "plasma pies" because we used to joke the fillings were just gristle and plasma.  They have been linked in the nation's psyche with football by advertisers.  They have told us that Australians love football, meat pies, kangaroos and holden cars, and that "you've got to have a Four 'n' Twenty pie before the game, without a Four 'n' Twenty it wouldn't be the same".

The pies I ate most as a child were party pies.  Smaller than the traditional meat pie, they were often served alongside sausage rolls with tomato sauce at parties or just for a weekend meal.  Gourmet Traveller describes them as "a version of the workaday coffin slimmed down, bite-sized and ready to entertain the after-five crowd as readily as the under-fives".  I often make sausage rolls but I don't think I have had a party pie since going vegetarian. 
I had the "mince meat".  Some thought was needed as to pastry and sauce.  I searched the web for flaky pastry.  Many recipes used shortcrust pastry on the bottom and puff pastry on top.  I didn't want a shortcrust pastry so buttery that it would collapse in my hand.  Eventually I returned to my favourite crusty hot water pastry.  I did a trial run during the week with margarine rather than butter.  I used a tofu filling but had a little plain gravy leftover that I used with some "mince meat" for a test party pie.  It was a bit rich.  The muffin tins were too big so I thought I might try some smaller cupcake tins.

Fortuitously I saw Anh's meat pie recipe while I was considering how to make a more flavoursome gravy.  By the morning of the Grand Final I was ready.  I made the pies first thing.  Even so, they were just out of the oven and still hot before we left for Andy's place.  I wrapped them in a blue and white tea towel (Geelong's colours) and took them piping hot.  In fact they were so hot that they didn't get reheated much and didn't brown up as much as I would have liked.

They were an excellent contribution to the footy food.  Sausage rolls, pies, chips and lots of tomato sauce.  In a black and white table cloth (Collingwood's team colours).  The feedback from those who tried them was good.  E even said they were better than the regular party pies (out of a box).

The football was terrible to watch.  The Collingwood supporters in the family take it so seriously.  Which is a very bad thing when their team are losing.  I didn't watch much of the match.  My time was spent checking on Sylvia, catching up with my mum who was just back from Ireland and kicking a footy about out on the road with my three year old nephew.  It was probably just as well that Sylvia was so tired and  narky that we had to leave as the match finished.  Geelong won.  Everyone else was too glum for me to enjoy it much.  My brother Dave was wise to celebrate Geelong's win elsewhere.

During the week I complimented a waitress at a cafe about her Geelong t-shirt.  We had a great chat about them winning the premiership.  It came to a halt abruptly when she asked me who my favourite player was.  Um, I don't have one.  I am not that sort of supporter!

Meanwhile I had leftover pastry and "mince meat" in the fridge.  After three days I could face the pastry again.  The pastry was grey and got binned.  The "mince meat" tasted of old cauliflower.  I'll tell you about how we used it another time.  I highly recommend these party pies.  They could do with a bit of tweaking but they weren't bad for a first effort.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe
This time last year: Pizza ideas - bases and toppings
This time two years ago: NCR: Bean, barley and tomato stew
This time three years ago: Orange, Fig and Ginger Smoothie

More vegetarian and vegan Aussie recipes can be found in my Australia Day recipes round up.

Vegan Party Pies
inspired by Anh and Ricki
Makes about 24*

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3g dried porcini mushrooms, chopped
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 serve of Ricki's cauliflower and walnut mince meat
pinch salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper

150g margarine
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1-2 tbsp soy milk

To make the filling: Fry onion in olive oil in a heavy based frypan.  You can fry it on a low or high flame depending on your time and patience.  It should get quite brown.  Stir in garlic and fry for about a minute.  Add tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, porcini and 1 tbsp soy sauce.  Stir together to make a paste and cook for a few minutes.  Add flour to the mixture to make a thick paste and cook another minute or two.  Now add water slowly, stirring into paste as you add it.  Bring watery mixture to a boil and it should thicken slightly.  Stir in the faux "mince meat".  Check seasoning and add extra soy sauce, salt and pepper as required.

To make the pastry: heat margarine and water in the microwave (or on stovetop) until margarine is melted.  Add flour.  Stir until it comes together into a ball.  Lightly knead and roll out to a thickness of about 0.5 cm (1/4 inch).

To assemble: Grease a couple of 12 hole cupcake tins.  Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).  Cut circles to line each cupcake hole.  Fill each pastry hole with the filling.  Lightly brush the edges of pastry.   Cut out a slightly smaller circle of pastry to cover each pie and press down with your fingers to seal the edge.  Brush the pastry tops with soy milk.  Use a sharp knife to cut a small slit in each pie.  Bake for 10 minutes at 200 C.  Turn down oven to 180 C (350 F) and bake an additional 30 minutes until golden brown.  Serve warm.

* NB I made 12 and had leftover pastry and filling.  I think the quantity might make double if you use all the pastry and filling.  I recommend freezing any leftovers.

** Anh used fresh mushrooms which I would have done if I had any.  I would also try this filling with red wine and maybe some fresh herbs next time. 

On the stereo:
John Peel: Right Time, Wrong Speed: 1977-1987: Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.


  1. wow, those look really delish!

  2. Your party pies look fantastic! I made some pot pies with Ricki's ground meat a while ago, didn't get around to writing about them but they were delicious too.

  3. Awesome! Thank you for posting this recipe! I studied in Brisbane for a few months in 2005 and this definitely brings back memories :) I will have to make these for folks around here.

  4. Johanna, this is so impressive. I would never have thought to try and veganise the Aussie meat pie but you have done it incredibly well!

  5. These sound great, wonder how they would go in gf pastry!

  6. Oh gosh yes, I still feel queasy when I remember that sensation of biting into gristle in a meat pie! Your version sounds so, so, so much better and more delicious.

    P.S. So glad I wasn't born in Victoria; I would've been the non-sport-loving weirdo :P

  7. These meat pies look fantastic Johanna! I can imagine they'd be hard to make a vegetarian version of, only because everyone has had a meat pie with meat and mince can be hard to replicate but these look just the ticket.

  8. I love the idea of party pies! I wish those would take hold in America as a popular thing to do. Yours look delicious!

  9. Oh dear - can see this match might not have been a fun family event! The pies, however, look delicious and are making me feel exceedingly hungry now. It's about time I started getting supper on.

  10. What a great post! And blog too! I am adding it to my blog reading list!!
    I am intrigued by the pies, the only meat pies we have in the US are potpies which are eaten with a fork and very mushy and messy, nothing hand-held.

  11. I remember that poem from highschool as well. Bruce Dawe always brought such wonderful imagery to his words.
    I don't follow afl, but could I schnaffle a pie?

  12. Love the idea of these little meaty pies! Like miniature tortieres--single serving size! Fabulous. Sorry about the game, though. ;)

  13. Oh wow, those look great! I hadn't seen Ricki's post on the vegan "meat" so I will try it at some point. I love how you could make these ahead and freeze them, just like the junky pies at the store, but these are vegan and healthy!

  14. How fabulous - these look delish, and indistinguishable from a meat pie.

  15. Ohh I'm going to have to file this recipe away for next year. I can see it been used a lot :D

    The reference to Life Cycle, took me straight back to my Yr 12 English class where I wrote a short story inspired by that poem, will have to see if I can find it..

  16. Thanks Amey

    Thanks Mel - pot pies - is that pies with only the tops? am sure they would be great with the "meat"

    Thanks Cassie - interesting they bring back memories as I just don't see party pies around much any more (though I still see larger pies about)

    Thanks Kari - it was the footy that did it! usually I don't have much desire for meat pies but it seems just perfect footy food

    Thanks K - I would be very interesting to see how they would go in gf pastry - I did briefly consider it but the only one I have tried was so fiddly that I didn't have the time to experiment (and this hot water pastry is so reliable)

    Thanks Hannah - if I am going to eat into gristle in my pies, let it be made of nuts and cauliflower! As for footy, I think you can get away without following it down in Victoria - one year we played chess while the grand final was on - unfortunately the AFL, which used to mean the Anti-Football League, now no longer has the same ring to it since they changed from Victorian Football League to Australian Football League

    Thanks Lorraine - tvp seems to mimic the mince thing but I don't like that - and admittedly it is so long since I had a real meat pie that I can't vouch for the taste being exact but this seemed pretty good to me

    Thanks Vegan-in-Brighton

    Thanks Spontaneous Euphoria

    Thanks Cadry's kitchen - maybe you need to start the trend in America :-)

    Thanks Choclette - it is easier to put up with such stuff with family - I am used to the collywobbles :-) hope you enjoyed your supper

    Thanks Tofu mom - you really need pies that are held in your hand if you are to eat them in front of the footy (though usually they dribble down your front!)

    Thanks Brydie - Bruce Dawe truly captures the football psyche in such a wonderful way - and these pies can be enjoyed in many more ways than just the footy - am sure you would appreciate them more than some in my family

    Thanks Ricki - party pies are great because they are just little and sometimes that is all you need (and more pastry to filling ratio which can be a good thing)

    Thanks angela - it's always nice to know what is in your pies (just ask sweeney todd) - hope you enjoy ricki's "meat"

    Thanks Cakelaw - they were delish but didn't fool the meat eaters (Though I suspect that might be because they knew I made them)

    Thanks Helen - enjoy the recipe - am sure the poem would inspire a great story

  17. Yumm I would love to try one of these! I was never into meat pies when I ate meat, but this vegetarian version sounds so good.


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