For two stay-at-home dads, building a food truck business seems as easy as pie. Chris Knowles and Tim Moore are neighbors in Kansas City’s Rockhill Ridge subdivision who own and operate Pie Hole, a food truck that sells Australian-style baked meat pies.
“Everything we do seems like it’s a modern twist on an old classic,” says Knowles, a native of Brisbane, Australia.
“As two dads that stay at home with five kids between us, we’ve cooked up these pies that are portable, portion-controlled versions of the meat pies I grew up with.”
A block party in October dubbed “Pie Fest” officially kicked their food truck business into high gear. While Knowles’ title is “pie bringer,” Moore’s role as “pie slinger” is apt as he quickly sells 3- and 5-inch pies for $4 and $7, respectively, from the back of a tomato-red 1969 Ford truck equipped with a catering box they bought on eBay for $800.
The initial success of the food truck amazes these doting dads.
“We’re taking comfort food to the streets and people are eating it up,” Knowles says. “We buy our meat locally from Stuart Aldridge at Broadway Butcher Shop, but people really love the puff pastry top that you can tear off and dip into the pie filling before you devour it.”
With vanity plates touting Straya (short for Australia), Pie Hole’s food truck holds 70, 5-inch pies, which are prepared in Kansas City, Kan. “Our families get excited when we are going out to sell pies, because they want to eat any we don’t sell,” Moore says. “The truth is, we usually sell out.”
Pie Hole KC (foodtruck): pieholekc.com; Facebook; Twitter and Instagram @pieholekc
Steak and Mushroom Meat Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie, serves 8
For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound trimmed beef stew meat
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 (16-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
1 (1-ounce) package brown gravy mix
4 cups unsalted beef stock
For the bottom crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1/2 tablespoon pieces
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
For the top crust:
1 (9-inch square) sheet frozen puff pastry
1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry containing 2 (9-inch square) sheets
1 beaten egg, plus 1 tablespoon water
To make the filling: In a large Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meat to pot and season with garlic powder and pepper. Brown meat on all sides and add onion and mushrooms to pot. Saute until soft.
In a mixing bowl, whisk gravy mix into beef stock. Pour into pot, deglazing bottom of pan. Place lid tightly on pot and simmer for 2 hours, removing lid occasionally to stir contents. At the end of the braising time, sauce should be thick and meat should be tender. (If liquid evaporates too quickly during braising, add water 1/2 cup at a time to prevent scorching on bottom of pot.)
To make the bottom crust: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, salt and sugar together until combined. Evenly place frozen butter pieces on top of flour mixture and pulse until butter becomes the size of large peas, about 10 pulses.
Add water 1/2 tablespoon at a time until the dough is moist (not sticky) and forms a ball. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a 4-inch disc. Wrap disc of dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
To assemble the pie: At the end of the two-hour braising time for the filling, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove pie dough from refrigerator and puff pastry from freezer. Allow pie dough to rest on countertop about 5 to 10 minutes.
Roll out disk of dough on a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin until it becomes a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Gently wrap pastry around rolling pin and unroll it into a glass 9-inch pie pan. Without stretching or making holes in the dough, ease pastry into pan. Allow pastry to spill over the sides of pie pan. Fold extra pastry under so dough is flush with the top of pie pan and make a decorative, fluted edge, if desired.
Carefully spoon thickened meat mixture into pie pan. Unroll sheet of puff pastry onto cutting board and prick with tines of a fork. Place square sheet of puff pastry over meat filling in pie pan. Puff pastry should hang over the edges for rustic look.
Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, brush top with egg/water mixture, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes. If top crust browns too quickly, cover lightly with piece of aluminum foil. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes before cutting into 8 slices.
Per serving: 867 calories (57 percent from fat), 57 grams total fat (18 grams saturated), 93 milligrams cholesterol, 64 grams carbohydrates, 31 grams protein, 588 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.