01 Nov Beef and Ale Pie
The weather outside is frightful!!! Why not make a warming steak & ale pie?
FOR THE FILLING
1 kg/2lb 4oz braising steak, cut into matchbox-sized pieces
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml/½ pint brown ale
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
250g/9oz carrots, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
handful fresh thyme sprigs
300ml/½ pint good-quality beef stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
500g/1lb 2oz chestnut or white mushrooms, halved or cut into quarters if large
knob of butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR EASE BUY YOUR READY MADE PUFF OR SHORTCRUST PASTRY FROM ANY SUPERMARKET
- Mix the beef with the flour and some salt and pepper. An easy way to do this without making too much mess is to put everything into a large food bag, seal, then shake well.
- Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large heatproof casserole up to a medium heat, then add half the beef, shaking off the excess flour and keeping the chunks well spaced so they fry rather than sweat. Brown for about 10 minutes, until golden-brown all over.
- Transfer the first batch of meat to a bowl, then add a splash of brown ale or water to the pan and scrape up any meaty bits. Tip the liquid into the bowl of meat. Wipe out the pan, then add a tablespoon of oil and brown the second batch of beef. When the beef is golden-brown transfer it to the bowl and set aside.
- Add the final spoon of oil to the pan and heat gently. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, celery and herbs to the pan and fry for a few minutes, until softened.
- Put the beef back into the pan. Pour in the stock and brown ale, then add the tomato purée and balsamic vinegar. If necessary, add a little more stock or hot water to ensure the meat is covered in liquid (this will prevent the beef from drying out). Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer the stew for 1–1½ hours until the beef is almost tender and the sauce has thickened. Set aside to cool, overnight if possible.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan, then add the mushrooms. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then fry over a high heat for 5 minutes, or until golden-brown. Mix with the cooled pie filling and add to the pie dish.
- To make the pie, preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. Flour the work surface, then roll out the pastry to the thickness of two £1 coins and wide enough to cover a family-size pie dish with some excess. Brush the edge of the pie dish with a little water or beaten egg.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry to fit the top of the dish – if it’s too big it doesn’t matter. Lift on top of the pie, laying the pastry over a rolling pin to lift it. Press down gently to seal.
- Holding the knife blade horizontally, make a patterned edge by pressing down gently all around the edge of the pastry (this will help the layers in the pastry to puff up).
- Cut a couple of slits in the top of the pie to release steam. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg – taking care to avoid getting egg on the edges of the pastry as it will stick the layers together. Chill for 10 minutes, or until the pastry is firm. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden-brown.