"Beer and pies are a match made in heaven," says Goat Pie Guy owner and chef Mick Hobson. "The bite and flavour of hops or wheat or barley is perfect to cut through the buttery pastry and rich fillings that I make for my winter pie range." Brisbane-based bakery maestro Hobson is no stranger to mixing beer and baked goods. Rather than enjoying the two separately, Mick uses beer in his pies — there are no less than five pies on the Goat Pie Guy menu made with beer (and they're all Great Aussie Pie Competition gold medal winners).
If he's using a brew in a pie recipe, Mick always matches his drinking beer too. "If it's a curry pie, I like to drink a pale ale or if it's one of my seafood pies, I always pair it with an amber ale." Mick actually uses beer in a lot of his recipes, not just pies. "Beer's an awesome base to build lively broths for seafood, rich sauces for grilled meat and lovely sweet and savoury layers in a slow braise." Certain beers with a more crisp edge, like a Little Creatures Original Pilsner, can cut through heavier, more buttery dishes, refreshing and reviving the palate, while more hoppy beers, like a Kosciuszko Pale Ale, can help you soldier on through spicy food.
Let's get back to those award-winning beery pies. We're keen to test this secret ingredient for ourselves, so we asked Mick for a cheeky recipe. So what's Mick cooked up for Concrete Playground? One heck of a hearty wagyu beef and porter pie.
"This one came about when I was experimenting for a meeting of brewers and meat merchants. It was important that both parties had their produce showcased in the best possible way so I decided to highlight the chocolatey flavours in the porter by caramelising it with the onions and adding the figs for extra sweetness. The beef flavour was intensified with allspice, black pepper and rosemary. Then I tossed them in a pot together, filled it with porter and crossed my fingers for six hours! And man, was it worth the wait."
Let's do this.
MICK HOBSON'S WAGYU BEEF AND PORTER PIE
2 medium brown onions sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
50g raw sugar
1kg diced wagyu brisket
3 litres beef stock
60ml olive oil
4 sprigs rosemary chopped
2 bay leaves
10g cracked black pepper
150g dried figs
3.5 bottles James Squire Jack of Spades Porter
150g corn flour
1 egg whisked for brushing
4 sheets of shop bought shortcrust pastry (Borgs is a good brand)
2 sheets of shop bought puff pastry (Borgs is good for puff too)
*(If you want to make your own shortcrust my recipe is below)
Heat half olive oil in a heavy base pot. Brown onions in oil, add half a 330ml bottle of James Squire Jack of Spades Porter, balsamic vinegar, diced figs and sugar and reduce until sticky, then remove from pot and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in the same pot and brown beef in small batches adding more oil as needed. Add all beef back into pot along with black pepper, allspice and chopped rosemary. Stir on low heat to completely coat beef. Add caramelised onion mixture, bay leaves, stock and porter. Bring to the boil then let simmer on low for three to four hours until beef can be cut with a fork. Combine corn flour with enough water to dissolve, and pour in slowly as you stir to thicken. You might like to add more or less corn flour depending on how thick you like your gravy.
Grease pie tins with butter and line with shortcrust pastry, leaving a little overhang. Fill with thickened pie mixture and brush pastry edge with egg mixture. Cut puff pastry lids to suit base size and place on top, crimp base and top together with fingertips or a fork.
Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Enjoy with a cold James Squire Jack of Spades Porter.
1 250g plain flour
125g unsalted butter, chilled, finely chopped
1 egg, chilled
Process flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk egg and one tablespoon chilled water in a bowl until combined, then with food processor motor running, add to flour mixture. Process until mixture begins to form large clumps, stopping machine before mixture forms a ball.
Turn pastry out on to a work surface and knead gently to bring together. Form into a disc for a round tart or into a log shape for a rectangular tart. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours. Roll out to 3-4mm thickness and cut out required size.
If you love discovering more things you can do with beer (and some surprising facts, like beer being 99.9 percent sugar free), visit www.beerthebeautifultruth.com. You'll find information on fusing beer and food, matching different styles of beer with your meals, and how particular foods can enhance the distinct flavours of a well-brewed beer. You can even learn a few nutritional myths around beer, and bust 'em while you're at it.