Everyone loves pie. Everyone. The reason everyone loves pie because it’s so versatile. You can have anything you want in your pie. Pork? Yes! Apple? Yes! Fish? Yes! Game? Yes! Ice Cream! Erm… well… maybe not anything. But the point is you can can make your pie any way you want it, but there are a few combinations which are classic and one of them is the Steak and Ale Pie. What could be better than taking steak and combining it with beer? Not much I’ll tell you. It requires a little patience to make the perfect pie, but this is a brilliant comfort food which is perfect for a cold winter evening but great at any time of year.
To get the best results, make the filling the night before or even two nights before and leave it in the fridge for a better flavour. If you don’t like mushrooms, then you can leave them out, or replace them with carrots, potato or anything you like or nothing at all! You can make the filling for this recipe using a casserole dish in the oven, or in a slow cooker. I tend to do the latter.
Steak & Ale PiePrint Recipe
- For the pastry
- 500g Plain Flour
- 250g Cold Unsalted Butter (or 125g Butter and 125g Lard)
- 10g Salt
- 4 Tablespoons Water
- For the filling
- 1kg Braising Steak
- 250g Chestnut Mushrooms
- 2 Large Onions
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- A few sprigs of fresh Thyme
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 500ml Dark Ale (Porter or Stout is best)
- 300ml Beef Stock
- 1tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 1tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Flour
- 2tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Egg
If you're using the oven, preheat it to 160°C (140°C fan)/320°F/Gas Mark 3. If you're using the slow cooker, set it to high and allow it to heat up.
Season the flour in a bowl with the salt and pepper, and then toss the braising steak in the flour until it's coated on all side.
Heat half the oil in a frying pan on a medium/high heat, and add the braising steak to the pan (it should already be cubed) and brown it on all sides. Though you don't want to cook it completely, that'll happen in the casserole dish or slow cooker. Set the beef to one side.
Dice the onions, though not too finely, and slice two of the garlic cloves, and crush the other two garlic cloves.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan and bring it down to a low heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook them for about 5 - 10 minutes until they start to become translucent. Now add the sliced garlic and crushed garlic (as this takes less time to cook) and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the meat, onions, and garlic to the casserole dish or slow cooker and then add the ale and beef stock, the leaves from a few springs of fresh thyme, and the bay leaf. Don't add the mushrooms just yet. Add the lid to dish/slow cooker and leave to cook for about 3-4 hours until the meat is really tender.
About an hour before the end of this cooking time, cut your chestnuts in half, add a little oil to the pan and brown for a couple of minutes and then add into the filling mixture. If the gravy is looking a bit too thin, then you can take the lid off and let it simmer down. Once finished cooking, leave to cool at room temperature before covering with cling film and put it in the fridge until you need it.
For the pastry, it's best to make it the day before you need it and then leave it to chill in the fridge. Make your pastry using the technique in the shortcrust pastry recipe found here.
Grease a 12"/30cm pie dish and dust with flour. Cut your pastry in half and roll it out so that it's larger than your pastry dish and has a good inch of overhang on it and line the bottom of the pie dish with it neatly. Add your chilled filling into the base until it's up to the brim of the dish. If you come up a little short, it's okay, but don't overfill.
Now roll out the other half of the pastry so it's also about an inch bigger than the pie dish and place gently over the base of your pie. Trim off the excess pastry. Now crimp the edge of your pastry, or if you're not confident in doing this then you can press down the edges of your pie with the back of a fork, or similar.
Heat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan)/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Beat the egg in a bowl and brush your pie evenly with the beaten egg. If you're feeling adventurous, you can use the excess pastry to make a decoration, pastry leaves are always a classic.
Make a small hole in the top of the pie to let the steam escape and cook the pie in the oven for 45 minutes until golden and the filling is cooked. You can tell when your pie is cooked by putting a knife into the centre of the pie for 5 seconds and then placing the flat of the knife to your lip. If it's hot, then it's cooked through.
Serve the pie with gravy, the veg of your choice and, if you want to double carb, mash or new potatoes. Then simply enjoy!