Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Pie Floater - Olympic Food Challenge : Australia

Australia are one of the big boys when it comes to the Olympic games.  Over it's history, they have won 432 medals, 131 of those being all golden and shiny and are the 11th most successful team competing on medal ranking alone. They have already gotten a haul of 4 medals so far, including a swimming gold..

When we were planning the menu for the Olympic Food Challenge, and found out that we had drawn Australia, Mrs Soup, who has visited parts Antipodean, suddenly became very animated and say "you have to make a pie floater"! Now, Australia is renown for some amazing fusion dishes with lots of Asian influence, but I wanted to do something a little more old school, so this was perfect...

Now, never being one to back down from a challenge,  I had to find out what a pie-floater was, and after some research, it turned out to be a very maligned dish of a pie floating in mushy peas, smothered in tomato sauce, which was designated in 2003, a Southern Australian Cultural Icon.  And people say the Australians have no culture... (I jest, by the way, in case anyone challenges me to a game of 'knifey-spoony')  It appalled to me to make a somewhat more swanky version of what appears to be the Australian version of a drunken kebab on the way home from the pub. Find out more about them here

The pie floater was also a challenge as I had to make pastry, which regular readers will know, usually makes me cry tears of sadness and failure.  However, today was a success. The pie filling had to be lamb, of course (Chuzz-wazzer being unavailable in my local butcher*)  Also, I added green food dye to the mushy peas, as they didn't seem, well, green enough...

*Enough with the Simpsons references...


Pie Filling
1 Carrot
2 Onions
500ml Stock
250g Lamb Neck
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Rosemary
Balsamic Vinegar

200g Plain Flour
125g Butter
100ml Water
Pinch of Salt

Pea Puree
250g Dried Split Peas
500ml Stock
75g Butter
1tbsp Fresh Mint
1tsp Garlic
Salt and Pepper

To Serve
Mint Sauce
Tomato Sauce

1. Soak the Dried split peas overnight.

2.  Roughly chop the onion and carrot for the pie filling.  Put in a casserole dish with the cubed lamb neck, sprigs of thyme and rosemary and stock and balsamic vinegar.  Cook at 140ºc for 3 hours and then leave to cool

3. Put the butter for the pastry in the freezer for at least an hour

4. Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl. Grate the frozen butter into the bowl and then add a pinch of salt.

5.  Add the water slowly, combining to make a solid dough, then kneed until the pastry is smooth, then roll out to about 6mm

6.  Line your pie dishes with pastry then fill with the meat and veg mix.

7.  Take some of the stock that the meat was slow cooked in, and heat, then thicken with a little cornflour.  For this over the meat in the pie cases and then top the pies with more pastry, prettify as you see fit.

8.  Drain the dried peas and rinse thoroughly, then add more water and cook for at least 45 minutes in the stock.  Once they have started to break up, add the mint, butter and seasoning (I had to use a stick blender to puree them to get the desired texture) and then add more stock if needed to get the right consistency.

9.  Cook the pies in a pre-heated oven at 180ºc for 35 minutes, brushing the top with milk or beaten egg if you want.

10  To serve, spoon some pea puree into a bowl, and then position the pie in the middle.  Dress with tomato sauce and mint sauce.  Enjoy! 

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