Beef-and-Cheddar Pie Inspired by 'Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All'

Beef-and-Cheddar Pie Inspired by 'Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All'

Wednesday, 7 October, 2020

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


We can all agree that pie is one of mankind’s greatest inventions. With golden, flaky crust and fillings that can be savory or sweet, it’s a self-contained pleasure bomb that shows up in just about every type of cuisine around the world.

But leave it to those creative Kiwis to take it one better and make it portable! Say g’day to New Zealand pies.

The pie is routinely voted New Zealand’s favorite comfort food, ranking even higher than ice cream and chocolate. It comes in a wide variety of savory flavors from basic — steak-and-cheese, mince-and-cheese, bacon-and-egg — to the more exotic and posh, like goat cheese and kūmara (Māori sweet potato); smoked salmon, dill, and white sauce; venison and wild mushroom; and Indian-style butter chicken.

Just as US gas stations serve up hot dogs 24/7, New Zealand’s petrol stations and dairies (corner stores) have an array of pies tucked snuggly into a heated cabinet for all your snacking emergencies.

For more, let’s hear from our favorite New Zealand dad:

When Captain Cook attempted to land on New Zealand in the 1700s, a Māori native threatened him with the words, ‘Come onshore, and we will kill and eat you all.’ The situation never got that dire. As author Christina Thompson implies in her brilliant memoir of the same title, they were merely introducing a point where arbitration can begin.

Eating a meat pie is way more delicious than gnawing on a pesky colonial settler. We suggest you bake up a batch of flaky pies to nosh on while you enjoy Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All — or any of the other books we recommended in our podcast episode New Zealand: Kiwis, Majestic Scenery, and Māori Mythology.

You don’t need to be a wizard in the kitchen to make these pies; frozen puff pastry does all the hard work for you. The result is a very satisfying, savory pie that’s great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late-night reading session.

flaky meat pies displayed on a wooden cutting board
Photo courtesy of AnikonaAnn/Shutterstock

Kiwi-Style Beef-and-Cheddar Pies

Makes 24. Prep 10 minutes. Bake 20 minutes.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch or flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 17.3-ounce package puff pastry sheets, thawed in the fridge
  • 3/4 cup (100g) aged white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg


Cook the onion. Place the olive oil in a large skillet and warm over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. While the oil heats, very finely mince the onion. Add the onion and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. While the onion cooks, combine the potato starch, salt, pepper, and thyme in a small bowl; set aside.

Add the umami. Add the garlic to the pan and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant, then drop the tomato paste into the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until slightly darkened in color.

Brown the meat. Crumble the beef into the skillet with the onion and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. When the meat is beginning to lose its pink color, add the starch-spice mixture. Stir to combine, then add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Stir again and simmer, uncovered, until the gravy is thickened and bubbly, about 8-10 minutes.

Cool the filling. Transfer the meat to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; this takes about 1-2 hours. You can also do this overnight.

Prep the puff pastry. Remove puff pastry from the fridge. If you’re using pre-rolled pastry sheets, they will probably already be about 1/4-inch thick. If not, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board. Cut the pastry into twelve 4-inch rounds and twelve 3-inch rounds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then transfer the puff pastry to the sheet and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Line the muffin cups. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Place the larger puff pastry rounds in the base of each muffin tin, pressing along the sides, so they are flush with the bottom and sides of the tin. The dough should slightly overlap the rims, stretch dough slightly if needed.

Assemble. Remove the chilled beef mixture from the fridge and stir in the shredded cheese. Evenly divide the filling between each pie, packing the meat all the way to the top.

Glaze. Whisk the egg in a small bowl with the fork. Brush the edges of the pastry overlap with the egg, then top each pie with a smaller pastry round. Press around the edges of the pies using the tines of a fork to create a seal. Cut a small slit into the top of each pie with a sharp knife. Use the remaining egg to brush the tops of each pie. Place the tray in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes before baking.

Heat the oven. While the pies are chilling, heat the oven to 425F/220C. Bake the pies until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Let them cool about 10 minutes before serving.

To serve. These taste great hot or at room temperature, eaten with a knife and fork or enjoyed as a hand-pie.

It’s easy to be critical of pioneers, as easy as it was a hundred years ago to worship them. Where once we saw their bravery, their self-sacrifice, their intrepid spirit, we now see only their greed, their brutality, their cunning manipulation of the truth. But a frontier is not that simple. It is less like a line than a zone of shadow, an area of give and take. It evolves and changes and the people who are in it change, too: how they tink and what they say and what they mean when they say it. — Christina Thompson

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All

by Christina Thompson

Part memoir, part history, this remarkable book is both a charming love story — between an American woman and a Māori man — and a look at what happened when European colonialism collided with the Māori culture in the 18th century. Author Christina Thompson is a charming narrator and an astute observer of both her own surroundings and the perils of history. Through the lens of her relationship with her husband Seven, she explores all the facets of the adage ‘opposites attract’ to charming effect. And — lucky us! — we meet her new extended family. As Christina gets to know his big, boisterous crew, we’re taken inside their Māori home and immersed in this new-to-her culture: tattoos and tradition, joviality, a sense of community, and overwhelmingly, the importance of family. {more}

This insightful memoir (288 pages) was published in January of 2008 by Bloomsbury USA. The book takes you to New Zealand. David read Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All


Top image courtesy of

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

New Zealand is an enchanting blend of colonial and Māori culture — against the prettiest green-and-blue backdrop of mountains and sea you could imagine. It's a place for exploration, all good vibes, and meat pies.
She wrote crime novels with well-drawn characters, sharp prose, and twisty plots — plus put her own spin on 'Hamlet,' drove an ambulance during WWI, and was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Craggy mountains, bold blue water, irresistible wildlife, Māori mythology, and super-cute kiwi birds: The stunning images in these must-follow Instagram accounts showcase what makes New Zealand a magical place.
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is a suspenseful fantasy novel set in Wellington. What better way to take a snack break than with the NZ treat called Fairy Bread?! Like the novel, it's sweet and a bit surprising.
It's never smooth sailing when the Honorable Phyrne Fisher is involved — but it is always a lot of dangerous and delicious fun. Dine on this delightful shrimp salad while catching up on Phryne's high seas adventures.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.