This recipe for sandwich pie dates from 1917 when Australia was at war. Patriotism required those on the home front to demonstrate their moral fibre by adopting a temperate, frugal lifestyle. The newspapers were full of exhortations to avoid the sin of waste:
“Extravagance merits condemnation in periods of peace, and in a time of war like the present it becomes a crime as dangerous as that of high treason,” thundered the Adelaide Advertiser.
Although the sandwich pie does contain meat, it’s ‘left-over’ meat, so it qualifies as being economical. In fact, it’s not just left-over meat, it’s left-over meat sandwiches (although it’s difficult to envisage when you’d have left-over sandwiches – perhaps when someone didn’t eat their lunch).
I made a sandwich pie so Fred could photograph it for my food history book, A Timeline of Australian Food: from mutton to MasterChef. As it happened, we didn’t have any left-over meat sandwiches hanging around, so we had to buy some rather left-over-looking roast beef from the Coles deli counter. We also bought some pickles, mainly for cosmetic effect.
The first step was to make the sandwiches. Chunky ones, with the crusts left on, as I imagined you’d find in a working man’s lunchbox.
The minced bread mixture was then topped with mashed potato. I cheated a bit by smearing the top with non-austerity butter to help it brown.
But as a way of filling up hungry kids when money was short – well, you could do a lot worse.
RECIPE – SANDWICH PIE
Pass any meat sandwiches through the mincing machine, add some gravy, cover with cold mashed potatoes. Bake till brown and serve hot.
(Adelaide Chronicle, 10 November 1917)