Pies are deeply threaded throughout my history with Chris. Little known fact: we met in a pie shop. I worked in a pie shop for two years, and one day Chris walked into my pie shop, and never walked out of it. Metaphorically, my heart is the pie shop. But the pie shop I worked in wasn’t a metaphor, it was an actual pie shop. Are you still with me?
I plied him with my two designated free pies per shift, and our faintly pastry-scented romance slowly blossomed (seriously. I smelt like a walking, talking pie for those two years). Pies brought our love to life. Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t propose to me at a pie shop. Or bake my engagement ring into a pie. Ooooo! Or bake a pastry engagement ring.
Though I left the pie shop in my dust, I had all these pie-making skills going to waste. So when we were putting together our Myer wedding registry, naturally, we popped a Sunbeam pie maker on there.
Then not long into our marriage, one fateful night after work, I discovered a box of Herbert Adams Chilli Cheese Pies in the freezer at Coles. I bought them curiously, and BAM! That was it. Two lives were changed that night. We were addicted to chilli cheese pies, and proceeded to eat them for wayyyy too many dinners, until out of the blue, Herbert Adams discontinued their most delicious product. I will never understand why.
But I knew I had to make the situation okay. So I started experimenting with my own chilli cheese pies. And slowly but surely, came up with something that we maybe-sorta-kinda like even MORE. Give me lemons, I make lemonade. Take my pies away, I make… other pies. Yeah!
THESE PIES ARE SO GOOD. Cheesy. Spicy. Perfectly lunch-sized (but you know, great for dinner too). And they freeze and de-frost so well that I usually make a big batch of them and freeze pairs of them in sandwich bags.
I make these with my pie maker (still going strong after almost 9 years! Boom!) but have included easy adaptations for those who don’t have one, because those people should not miss out on the opportunity to cram spicy-beef-and-cheese-stuffed pastry into their faces.
But before we get to the recipe, I just thought of another proposal:
Bake the world’s tiniest pie, put the engagement ring inside it, put the pie in the ring box, get down on one knee, open the box, woman is deflated because she’s all “LOL I thought you were proposing, but OK I could use a snack”, then bites into the pie, finds the engagement ring, spits it out like “the heck is this?” and THEN proposal. Happy tears. The end.
OK I’m done.
Slow Cooked Chilli Beef and Cheese Lunch Pies
Makes: 14 pies (freeze the leftovers!)
Time: 10 minutes (searing) + 6 hours (slow cooking) + 20-30 minutes (pie cooking)
Note: This recipe uses a pie-making appliance. However, similar results can be achieved by using ramekins or Texas muffin pans in the oven. Instructions for these methods are included at the bottom of the recipe.
2 tbs olive oil
700g diced gravy beef
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
200g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes
280g tomato paste
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 cups grated cheese
7 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 can (400g) kidney beans, drained
- Heat a skillet to medium-high. Sear beef in batches until brown. Place in slow cooker with onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock and dried chilli flakes. Stir to combine. Cook for 5.5 hours, or until beef is very tender.
- Add kidney beans, oregano and cumin to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook another 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place frozen puff pastry on bench to soften. Cut out circles for bases and tops (your pie maker should have come with a round cutting tool to do this). Warm up pie maker.
- Place large puff pastry circles in the base of your pie maker. Place approx. 1/3 cup of slow cooked chilli beef into each pie base (adjust according to your pie maker’s capacity). Top with a sprinkle of cheese. Cover with smaller puff pastry circles. Close pie maker and cook for 4-5 minutes (depending on your pie maker’s specifications).
- When pies are cooked, repeat with remaining pastry, chilli beef and cheese. Serve immediately.
To Freeze: Cool pies in fridge for 2 hours (or overnight). Place pairs into sandwich bags. Seal and freeze for up to 3 months.
To Re-heat: Preheat oven to 180°C. One at a time, microwave pies on high for about 1.5 minutes, until warmed through. Place on oven tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crispy. Serve immediately. Once reheated, do not chill, freeze or reheat again.
Using ramekins: Place your ramekin top-side-down on puff pastry. Using a knife, cut out a circle, using the ramekin as a guide. Put pastry disk aside. Fill ramekin with chilli beef. Top with cheese. Cover with puff pastry disk. Spray lightly with olive oil. Bake 20-25 minutes or until pastry is crisp and golden. (Note: this method will use less than the specified 7 sheets of puff pastry)
Using non-stick Texas muffin pan: Cut half the puff pastry into squares big enough to cover the bottoms and sides inside the muffin pan. Cut the other half of the pastry into circles (use muffin pan as a guide for size). Place puff pastry squares into the bottoms of the pan. Fill with chilli beef. Top with cheese. Cover with puff pastry circles. Bake 20-30 minutes or until pastry is crisp and golden. Cool slightly before removing from pan.