What’s the secret of a good pie?


Curried lamb and potato pie at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. Photo: Jessamyn McLachlan

What’s the secret of a good pie? I’ve asked myself that question when my pastry bases have turned out soggy, lids have been lacklustre, and the filling has lacked oomph. With a number of Sydney pubs participating in the Crave Sydney’s International Food Festival’s Good Pub Grub menu  — which consists of pie and a schooner of Coopers Pale Ale for $20 — i decided to take my question to the experts.

The Imperial Hotel Paddington is serving a wagyu bourguignon pie — braised wagyu brisket with shallots, mushrooms, and bacon in a rich red wine sauce with carrot and thyme smash is on the menu at.

Manager Brendan Reid says the secret to a good pie is the use a good quality secondary cut of meat, such as brisket.

“We seal off the whole 5-10kg brisket and braise it for 15-20 hours on a slow heat — 90c — in a rich beef stock to get a very tender and tasty end product,” he says.

The addition of a butter puff pastry lid makes it the perfect “eye-appealing pie” – an “all round, great tasting, great seller”.

Kangaroo, tomato and peppercorn pie is on the Good Pub Grub menu at the Orient Hotel in the Rocks. Licensee James Stevenson says using a ceramic pot base with the pastry lid gives “the best of both worlds” that will heat and cook faster than conventional all-pastry pies “with no seepage or soggy pastry”.

“If you cannot make your own puff pastry try to use the best pastry you can afford. Carême All-Butter Puff Pastry is my pick of the bought pastries when cooking at home,” he says.

Stevenson agrees that secondary cuts which lend themselves to slow braising work best. A good pie “cannot be rushed”, he adds, “which does pose a problem when we run out”.

At the Epping Hotel it took licensee Jim Granger and chef Giovanni Panetta  many afternoons “blending, making, baking and tasting flavours we liked, loved, and some we loathed” to come up with the final flavour combination – a pork, sage and sweet potato pie.  Granger says the secret to a good pie is in the eating:

“You have to be able to match the final hot pie taste with a mouth-watering feel and flavour of a schooner of Cooper’s Pale Ale.”

Martin Place Bar is offering a Milly Hill lamb and rosemary pot pie with mash and gravy.

Events manager Karen Anderson says the secret to making a good pie is “superior produce, long, slow braising and crisp, hand-made pastry”.

“We like to support small producers and have forged a strong relationship with Milly Hill Lamb over the previous months. We regularly receive positive customer comments regarding the quality of their pasture-fed lamb, so when creating our ‘Good Pub Grub’ pie we could look no further. Judging by the number we have sold … it has been a successful choice.”

At Woolwich Pier Hotel head chef Glenn Tabudlo has put crocodile tail pie in lemon myrtle infused Coopers Pale Ale sauce with hand-cut kumera chips, baby spinach, celeriac puree and a port reduction on the Good Pub Grub menu.

He says the secret of making a good pie is fresh ingredients and balance of flavour for every component of the dish.

“[Secondary] ingredients should not overpower the main ingredient but rather enhance the flavour of it.  And the best way to achieve this is to simplify the components so that presentation and taste won’t be too complex.”

At the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel in The Rocks head chef Hari Lamachane and his Nepalese team are offering a curried lamb and potato pie featuring fenugreek, cumin and curry spices served with potato and peas. They say the secret to a good pie is a great gravy base, quality slow cooked ingredients and fluffy pastry.

What is your secret to making a good pie?




Filed under Cuisines, Restaurant Reviews

10 responses to “What’s the secret of a good pie?

  1. Melleemoo

    Have you tried any yet? I think I may need to head to the Imperial! Even the mash sounds brilliant!


  2. It seems a waste of Wagyu to use it in a pie when a cheaper but more connective tissue laden cut would give great flavour.For me a good pie has good chunks of meat that hasn’t fallen apart but is tender enough to pull apart with a spoon.


  3. lordy. i don’t eat meat much any more but your descriptions are making my mouth water!


  4. I do love a good pie! The pastry is so important to me! 😀


  5. Well, now I’m hungry! I’ve tried a pie at the Lord Nelson pub… it was pretty good. But now I’m really keen to try that pork and sweet potato pie at Epping Hotel.


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