Beef & onion pie with cornmeal pastry

martin cross By martin cross, 9th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Recipes>British

A traditional beef & onion pie with a twist, adapted from a French cookbook.

A French spin on a traditional British pie

The French love to combine unusual textures and flavors in food – not always successfully but in this case very well. A traditional British cuisine pie filling of ground beef and onion is wrapped in cornmeal pastry for a crisper, crunchier pie crust.

Cornmeal is a common ingredient in Southern cuisine. Cornbread (made from cornmeal, flour and eggs) is a natural accompaniment to a meal and is used as a topping for casseroles and pies, and corn tortillas have their own special place in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. However, cornmeal pastry is encountered less frequently, despite its being relatively simple to make.

Unlike its cousin, shortcrust pastry, cornmeal pastry requires no fat to bid it. Cornmeal has an almost infinite capacity to absorb fluid and combines together quite readily. A relatively thick mixture is used for pastry, combining cornmeal with only 1.25 to 1.3 times its own volume of fluid.

The recipe below is for a shallow 9” (22cm) pie for 4 people. The dish can be turned into a deep dish pie for 6 people by adding meat and root vegetables (carrot, turnip, rutabaga) with a little thick beef gravy, if desired, as shown in the picture. In any case, you may wish to add a little more beef to the basic recipe (meat is expensive in Europe and used sparingly). The quantity of cornmeal pastry should be able to stretch to accommodate a deep 9” (22cm) pie.

You can also, of course, use shortcrust pastry if you prefer. You can also substitute marjoram, parsley and/or basil for the herbs, if preferred.

Ingredients for beef & onion pie with cornmeal pastry


1 2/3 cups (9 oz / 240 g) of cornmeal
1 tsp of salt
2 cups + 2 tbsp (18 oz /500 ml) of milk
4 tbsp (2 oz / 50 g) of butter


8 oz (200 g) of ground beef
½ tsp of coriander/cilantro
1 yellow onion, finely chopped.
1 tbsp of butter
½ tsp of salt
½ tsp of thyme
Pinch of black pepper

How to make beef & onion pie

Cornmeal pastry

Using a an electric mixer, beat the flour with half the milk to a smooth batter.
Heat the rest of the milk with the butter until the butter has melted.
Beat the hot milk into the batter.
Pour the batter into a pan and heat over a low heat for a moment or two until the mixture thickens to a dough.


Set the oven to pre-heat to 350°F (175°C).
Melt the butter in a skillet and fry the onion until it is translucent.
Add the meat and fry it over high heat for 2-3 minutes until browned, stirring to crumble it.
Add the coriander/cilantro, thyme and seasonings.
Grease a pie plate.

Pie shell

Dust your worksurface with cornmeal. Take two-thirds of the dough and roll it out large enough to line the pie plate.
If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle the top with cornmeal or roll it between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrapping film.
Alternatively, spread the dough out over the pie plate and up the sides with the back of a spoon, trying to keep the thickness of the pastry as even as possible.


Fill the plate with the meat mixture.
Roll out the remaining dough and lay it on top of the pie (or drop spoonfuls of dough and spread them carefully over the top of the filling). Seal the edges.
Bake low in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with your choice of sides.


Beef, Beef Onion, British Cuisine, Cornmeal Pastry, Ground Beef Recipe, Pie, Southern Cuisine, Steak

Meet the author

author avatar martin cross
I am a technical translator and writer, a former chef and marketeer, currently disabled. I write articles on food,, travel, politics, religion and technology among other topics.

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author avatar Denise O
9th Apr 2012 (#)

Now this looks downright delicious. I must try this. You always have such great recipes. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Denise O
9th Apr 2012 (#)

Oh and by the way, the cornmeal crust has my mind spinning with other filling ideas. Love it!:)

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