Four new pies to try: Butter chicken, Greek lamb, cauliflower macaroni cheese and more

Family-size Greek lamb and feta pie with crispy kataifi pastry.
Family-size Greek lamb and feta pie with crispy kataifi pastry. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Sweet or savoury, crisp or soft, pies defy; few foods appear so unassuming yet taste so decadent. With high flaky domes or short buttery crusts, they can turn the most modest ingredients into something completely other-worldly and hedonistic. And they are always comforting, like some kind of pastry-covered public service for the soul.

Greek lamb and feta pie

She may not be spectacular to look at but she is truly glorious in taste. The light crunch of the golden pastry is the perfect partner to the shredded slow-cooked lamb and background tang of preserved lemon.

INGREDIENTS

This pie swaps puff pastry for fine kataifi strands.
This pie swaps puff pastry for fine kataifi strands. Photo: Katrina Meynink

1 tbsp olive oil

2 red onions, peeled, sliced

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 boneless lamb shoulder (about 1.2kg)

½ preserved lemon, sliced

zest of 1 lemon

Advertisement

2 tsp dried oregano

1 cup (250ml) dry white wine

1 cup (250ml) chicken stock

½ cup Persian-style marinated feta

Topping

175g kataifi pastry*, defrosted in the fridge

2 tbsp olive oil

Greek basil leaves, to serve (optional)

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 150C.

2. Place a large ovenproof casserole dish over medium heat. Add the olive oil then the onions and garlic cloves and cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients except the feta.

3. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven and cook for four to five hours or until the lamb is soft and pulls apart easily with a fork. Remove from the heat, place the lamb in a large bowl and shred with a fork. Place the shredded meat in a deep-sided pie dish (about 25cm round x 5cm deep) and add five to seven tablespoons of the cooking liquid – you don't want the mixture to be runny, but you do want some liquid so that the meat doesn't dry out when you bake the pie. Crumble the feta over the lamb mixture.

4. Gently pull apart the kataifi pastry to loosen the strands, and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil and, using your hands, gently toss the strands to coat them in the oil. Arrange the kataifi pastry evenly over the lamb and feta, pat down lightly, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Serve hot, sprinkled with a few basil leaves (if using).

Serves 4-6

*Frozen kataifi pastry is available from gourmet grocers

Beef short rib, miso and beer pot pies.

Slow-cooked beef short rib, miso and ale pies. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Beef short rib, miso and beer pot pies

This makes a little more beef mixture than you will need, but it freezes like a dream and eats like a dream tossed through fresh pasta.

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil

3 shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1.2kg beef short ribs (about 3-4)

2 tbsp white miso paste

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 ½ cups beef stock

375ml ale (dark ale works well)

445g shortcrust pastry sheet, defrosted in the fridge (we used Careme)

375g puff pastry sheet, defrosted in the fridge (we used Careme)

Egg wash

1 egg and 1 tbsp milk, whisked together

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 160C.

2. Place a flameproof casserole dish over medium heat. Add the oil, shallots and garlic and cook until the shallots are translucent and fragrant. Add the short ribs and brown the meat on all sides. Add the miso, brown sugar, stock and ale – the ribs should be completely covered with liquid. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for three hours or until the meat starts to fall from the bone.

3. Gently remove the short ribs and set the meat aside, discarding the bones. Strain the braising liquid through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Place over medium heat and reduce by about half, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (between 10 and 20 minutes).

4. Roll the shortcrust pastry out to 2mm-thick and cut out four 16cm rounds. Lightly grease four 9.5cm-round pie dishes and line with the pastry circles, pushing up the sides all the way to the top. Line with baking paper, fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice, and blind bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove the pastry weights and paper, and return the shells to the oven for a further  two minutes, for the base to lightly cook. Allow to cool.

5. Gently shred the beef from the short ribs and fill the pie shells. Spoon one to two tablespoons of the reduced braising liquid over each shell – the meat should be generously coated, but you don't want so much liquid that the pastry becomes soggy.

6. Cut four rounds of puff pastry to fit the top of your pie dishes. Gently press down the sides. Make a small slash in the centre of the pie top to allow steam to escape then brush generously with egg wash.

7. Increase oven to 180C. Place the pies on a baking tray and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops of the pie are puffed and golden.

Serves 4

Quick butter chicken pies with naan bread lids.

Butter chicken pot pies with naan lids. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Quick butter chicken pies

Butter chicken is often labour-intensive but this version couldn't be easier. Pick up some fresh naan bread from your local Indian takeaway on the way home from work and this is the ultimate midweek meal. Source fresh naan for the best result – crunchy on top, dough-like and soft in the middle before giving way to a denser base dripping with butter chicken sauce. This makes more sauce than you need but you can freeze half of it for another need-a-curry-in-a-hurry emergency, and just throw in a bit of chicken or paneer. 

INGREDIENTS

400g tin finely chopped tomatoes

3 tbsp tomato paste

6 garlic cloves, minced

1½ tbsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

3 tsp garam masala

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp fenugreek leaves, finely chopped

500g chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces

120g butter

½ cup cashew nuts, finely ground using a food processor

½ cup cream

½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped

1-2 naan breads

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and all the spices to a casserole dish. Place the chicken pieces on top of the sauce. Cover tightly and place in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until the chicken has just cooked.

3. Remove the dish from the oven, carefully remove the chicken pieces and set them aside. Using a stick blender, blend the cooking liquid to a smooth sauce. Let cool for several minutes before adding the butter, ground cashew nuts, cream and coriander. Blitz again briefly. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove half the sauce and freeze for another occasion.

4. Return the chicken pieces to the remaining sauce in the dish. Stir gently to combine and season generously with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among six one-cup capacity ramekins.

5. Cut the naan bread into circles to fit the top of the ramekins. Press down gently then place in the oven and for 15 minutes until the naan lids are crisp (watch them to ensure they don't burn) and the chicken mixture has thickened and reduced slightly. Serve piping hot.

Serves 6

Macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese pie.

Macaroni cheese meets cauliflower cheese. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Cauliflower mac 'n' three-cheese pie

Macaroni cheese is all about the cheese. Buy the best you can afford and while not entirely essential, the smoked cheddar is the perfect partner to the paprika-spiced roasted cauliflower.

INGREDIENTS

½ head cauliflower, chopped into florets

½ tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

2 cups cooked macaroni (from about 125g uncooked pasta)

½ cup smoked cheddar, grated

½ cup gouda, grated

½ cup mozzarella, grated

1 cup cream

½ cup milk

1 tsp mustard powder dissolved in 1 tsp hot water

445g puff pastry sheet, defrosted in the fridge (we used Careme)

Egg wash

1 egg and 1 tbsp milk, whisked together

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 150C.

2. Place the cauliflower pieces on a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and add the paprika. Use your hands to massage the oil and paprika into the cauliflower until thoroughly coated, then roast until golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Add the roasted cauliflower, macaroni and grated cheeses to a large saucepan. In a separate bowl, combine the cream, milk and mustard powder mixture,then add to the saucepan. Cook over low-medium, stirring to coat, until the cheese has completely melted. Season generously with salt and pepper then transfer the filling into a six-cup capacity pie dish.

4. Increase the oven to 180C.

5. Gently cover the cheesy filling with the pastry sheet and use a fork to press down the edges around the pie dish. Generously brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the top appears puffed and golden.

Serves 4-6