If you are friends of my family, you’ve probably at least heard of, if not tasted, my mom’s meat pies. And if you have tasted them, they’re probably one of your favorite foods. So many varieties are made in South Africa, her mother country, and meat pie shops are about as popular there as donut shops are here.
Many have hounded my mom for her recipe, but she never used one or put one together. Finally, she taught me her magical method step-by-step! So many good memories surround this recipe. The smell of cloves and beef cubes cooking, helping egg wash the hand pies, eating them fresh from the oven because I simply could NOT wait, even if it meant burning my tongue. I’m so happy I can make them for my family now, and hopefully continue those happy memories!
For this recipe, I made one large pie since it was easier. However, it is traditionally eaten as hand pies. If you’d like to eat it as such, scroll to the bottom of this post for instructions.
- 1.5-2lbs beef cubes
- 2 tsp Herb-ox beef bouillon powder, plus more to taste
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- 1 onion
- Black pepper
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry
- 1 egg + 1 tbsp water (eggwash)
- In a medium-sized sauce pan, add in beef cubes. Season generously with black pepper, then add in cloves, and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons bouillon powder. Add in water, until barely covering beef.
- Bring to a simmer, and cook low and slow, for 2-4 hours, or until very tender. During this time, the water will repeatedly boil down to nothing, just keep adding water until beef is barely covered.
- Once beef is done, use a slotted spoon to remove beef cubes from the pot. Once cool enough to handle, massage the beef until it falls into shreds. (I like to use my hands for this part, since I can feel for any lumps of fat and discard them.) Set aside.
- The cloves will be soft at this point, so try as best as you can to skim them out of the remaining broth. Discard cloves, then reserve broth in a separate bowl and place in fridge to cool.
- Using the same pot, add in 1 chopped onion and a tablespoon of butter. Cook until onion is soft and translucent.
- Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into ¼ cup water, and stir until dissolved. Add shredded beef back into pan with onions, as well as the cornstarch slurry and reserved broth. Cook for about 2 minutes to get rid of the cornstarch taste, then take off heat. If needed, season with more boullion powder and pepper to taste. Scrape into bowl and cool in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, take out frozen puff pastry and allow to thaw. Set oven to 375°F.
- Carefully roll out one sheet of pastry to fit the bottom of a pie dish and add in chilled filling. Roll out the remaining sheet for the top, then fit to the pie, trimming and crimping edges with a fork. Generously poke holes for ventilation.
- Brush with egg wash, then bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown.
Cut the sheets of puff pastry into 9 squares (as you’d draw a tic tac toe board). You should have 18 squares, since the pastry comes in 2 sheets. Pile 2 heaping tablespoonfuls of the filling onto the center of half of the squares, leaving a 1 inch boarder. Use your finger to draw a line of egg wash around the filling, then top with another square of pastry. Taking a fork, crimp the edges shut and poke the pie 3 times for ventilation. Cover with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.