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Spiced beef pie with walnut pastry

You know me and my love of making pie by now, and savoury pies are no exception. I love the hand-crafted look of this golden and flaky pastry made with a walnut dough and folded in dramatic strips across the top. The filling is a mixture of beef, onion, garlic and spices, and it all comes together to form this rustic and charming pie.

Some of the spices I used in the filling, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, are ones more commonly found in a sweet pie. But they lend a beautiful sweet spiciness to the beef, reminiscent to me of a French Canadian classic - tourtière. Also included are ground cumin and mustard seeds. These mustard seeds I picked up on a trip to Pike Place Market in Seattle several months ago, and they're a treat to pop into with each bite.

I used my usual rich shortcrust pastry recipe here with the addition of half a cup of chopped walnuts. A meat pie felt like a perfect opportunity to add nuts to make this pastry extra special for our Sunday dinner.

The pastry was rolled into a large rectangle and strips cut along each side to be folded across the filling. This pie could just as easily be made as a double-crust pie in a traditional pie plate by dividing the dough into two balls for rolling out as a top and a bottom.

Here's how I made it:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp cold water

a splash of olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 egg
1/4 tsp salt

To make the pastry, I blended the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand pastry blender, I cut in the butter and walnuts until the mixture was evenly crumbly. In a small bowl, I beat the egg with the vinegar and water and stirred the wet ingredients into the other ingredients with a fork, then brought the dough together by hand into a large ball. I wrapped it in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge while I prepared the filling.

I warmed the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. The onion and garlic went into the skillet and cooked for a couple minutes until beginning to soften. The ground beef went in next, along with the cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon and mustard seeds, and the mixture was cooked until the beef was browned. I removed the skillet from the heat and stirred in the flour. Then I set aside the filling in a bowl in the fridge to cool enough to handle.

The pastry was rolled out on a floured surface into a large rectangle slightly shorter in length than my standard baking sheet. I used a pizza cutter to form strips along each length of the pastry about an inch in width, leaving the middle of the pastry uncut to hold the filling. Then I removed the corners. I piled the filling along the middle, then folded the strips over the filling and tucked the ends up. Using some helping hands, I gently transferred the pastry to my parchment-lined baking sheet.

To finish, I beat the egg with the salt and brushed it over the whole pastry with a pastry brush. Then I baked it in a preheated 400 degree (F) oven for 40 minutes

Someone kept sneaking in on my photo shoot. Little pea thief.

What's your favourite savoury pie?