Keef Cooks logo
British food-lover Keef shows you how to cook amazing food with easy to follow recipes and videos. So stop wasting your time and money on takeaways or supermarket ready meals, and Get Cooking!

Meat Pie Floater | Australian Minced Beef Pie in Pea Soup

Introduction & method

I first heard about this extraordinary item of drunk food when I read about it in Terry Pratchett's 'The Last Continent'. I assumed it was a figment of the great one's imagination, but no, it's real, especially around Adelaide where it was invented in the 1890s. A minced beef pie floating in pea soup - sounds good to me!

Meat Pie Floater | Australian Minced Beef Pie in Pea Soup Recipe

Soak the peas

The pea soup is pretty similar to mushy peas. Marrowfat peas are dried so you need to soak them in plenty of boiling water with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda for at least 2 hours.

Cook the Filling

Peel and dice the onion. Sauté it in oil on medium-low heat for 5 minutes until softened and maybe a bit browned. Add the mince, break it up and stir it round to get it browned all over then add the cleaned and quartered mushrooms. Continue cooking for five minutes then add the stock, the yeast extract, the bay leaves, the ground black pepper and a sploosh of tomato puree. Top up with extra water if needed, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste it and add salt if required. Cover with a lid and let it carry on cooking for 30 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally. Top up with water if it's looking dry. If it finishes up too runny, you can thicken the gravy by stirring in a slurry made of 2 tsps flour mixed with an equal amount of water. 
Remove from heat and transfer to a cold bowl - leave to cool to room temperature. 

Make the Pastry

Most commercial pies are made with a puff pastry top - if this is what you want, I strongly recommend you buy it! Although I do have a recipe for rough puff pastry here. Usually, my preferred pastry for pies is hot water pastry. To make that, mix together the flour and salt. Cut the fat (you can use all-butter or all-lard, and if lard is a problem for you, use shortening) into small cubes, pop them in a saucepan with the water and heat it until the fat melts. Mix half the liquid into the flour, and then mix in the rest. Wrap the dough in plastic film and leave to cool to room temperature.

Make the Pea Soup

You'll probably come across lots of recipes where the 'pea soup' is simply slightly diluted mushy peas. I prefer to make it in a more tradtional way, starting with a mirepoix. This is just onion, celery and carrot cut or grated very fine. Melt a knob of butter in a heavy-bottomed pan on low heat, stir in the veggies, cover the pan and sweat for 10 minutes (the veggies, not you). Drain the peas, add them to the pan and cover with plenty of water. Add a teaspoon of salt, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about an hour, checking ocassionally to make sure it's not sticking. The peas should be disintegrating by this time - if they're not, keep on cooking until they do, or 10 minutes in a pressure cooker should do it.
When the peas have given in, taste for seasoning, and do what's needed to make the consistency right - add more water it it's too thick, or boil it rapidly to reduce if it's too thin.

Assemble the Pies

You'll need 6 individual pie dishes. Coat the insides with butter. Roll out a little under half of the pastry to a thickness of 3-4mm, about a quarter of an inch. Use a cutter or a small bowl that's about the same diameter as the pie dishes, and cut out 6 discs for the lids. 

Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut into 6 rough squares that are big enough to form the pie cases with a bit left over at the rim. Dust one side of the pastry liberally with flour, and press a piece into each pie dish. Use your thumbs to make sure the pastry goes right down to the bottom of the dish. Trim off any excess pastry around the rim.

Fill the pies with the meat filling. Moisten the rim with water. Press a lid onto the top of each pie, squeezing tightly around the edge to form a good seal. Do any kind of crimping that you like, and brush the tops with eggwash (beaten egg with a splash of milk).

Bake the Pies

Heat your oven to 180°C (356°F) for a fan/convection oven, 200°C (392°F) conventional, gas 5. Place the pies on a baking sheet and bake them for 35 minutes, turning them round halfway through. When baked, remove them from the oven, get them out of their tins and place on a wire rack to cool a little.

To Serve

Ladle some pea soup into a bowl and place a hot pie in the centre of it. It seems to be traditional to submerge the pie upside down in the soup but I think it's a shame to hide your pie after all that work. Finish off with a squirt of tomato ketchup.


Ingredients & Info

 400 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
 100 grams unsalted butter
 100 grams lard
 200 ml water
 1 tsp salt
 1 tsp cider vinegar
 450 grams minced beef
 1 medium onion
 6 small mushroomss
 500 ml beef or chicken stock
 1 tbsp tomato puree
 1 tsp yeast extract
 small handful fresh parsley
 1 tsp ground black pepper
  salt to taste
 250 grams marrowfat peas
 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
 1 medium carrot
 1 stick celery
 1 medium onion
  salt to taste

Oil and butter for sautéeing.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 6 pies
Prep time: 20 minutes.
Cooking time: 2 hours.
Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes.