`Mum's beef and potato pie was the family standby,' writes Australian food guru Stephanie Alexander in `Stephanie's Feasts and Stories' (Allen & Unwin, 1988). `I suspect she made it so often when we were small because the ratio of potato to meat could easily be increased without the pleasure being lessened.'

This recipe has been adapted by food writer Phyllis Hanes. 1 1/2 pounds chuck steak in 2-inch cubes 2 tablespoons plain flour 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium onion, finely diced Salt and pepper, to taste 8 cups veal stock or water 1 bay leaf (optional) 1 stalk celery, finely diced (optional) 2 large potatoes, peeled, in 1-inch cubes Lard pastry for one-crust, 9-inch pie (use half self-rising flour fora biscuit-like texture)

Cut meat into 2-inch cubes and cut off excess fat. Roll beef in flour. In large, heavy pot heat oil and brown meat over high heat, mixing and turning as it browns. Add onions and cook about a minute, mixing with meat. Add salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium.

Add stock or water to cover meat. If using water, add bay leaves and celery. Mix well. Slowly bring to simmer. Barely simmer about 2 hours.

When meat is nearly cooked, but still has a little resilience, add potatoes. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes more, until potatoes are tender. Taste gravy and adjust seasoning.

Tip the cooked meat and potato into a 9-inch china pie-dish. I stand a traditional china pie-funnel in the center.

On floured board, roll out dough 2 inches larger than pie pan. Brush rim of pie dish with an egg wash made by mixing egg with a little milk. Fit crust loosely on pie. Press edges firmly and brush pie with egg wash. If not using pie funnel, slit pastry for steam to escape.

Bake in 400-degree F. oven for 15 minutes; lower temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake 20 minutes more. Makes one 9-inch pie.

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