Steak and Ale Pie

IMG_6817Fall (or Autumn here in England) has officially begun. Now is the time for apple picking, comfy sweaters, red wine, and comfort food. I would describe British food as being the quintessential comfort food. Think of bread and butter pudding, stodgy puddings, roasts, and a wide variety of pies. As the weather gets colder, (much to my partner’s delight) my desire to cook ‘British’ food heats up.

I have already tried my hand at a variety of stodgy desserts. I even made my partner’s dad Spotted Dick for his birthday. For those who don’t know, spotted dick is one of those puddings that you steam. Steaming batter definitely goes against every baking instinct I have. This time, I decided to try something a bit more intuitive: a savoury pie.

The filling of a savoury pie is essentially a thick, protein filled stew. You can make chicken, fish, pork, venison, or beef based pie, but I’ve always leaned towards the beef pie. Since the meat gets slowly cooked first in a pot and then in a pie casing, you can use tougher cuts of meat. The pie itself is actually a really inexpensive meal to make because pastry is cheap (the only real cost is the butter) and you can use cheaper cuts of meat. Not only is it a frugal meal, but you can have the filling and pastry made well ahead of baking it. In fact, the stew filling and pastry can both be frozen and then left in the fridge to thaw overnight before making a pie. Perfect!

I think I am officially a savoury pie convert! Next up, I’m going to try my hand at fish pie.

IMG_6719Serves 2-3

  • 500 g braising beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 beef stock cubes dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 can of Guinness (220ml)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 egg

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  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over high in a large cast iron pot.
  2. Cut the braining steak into bite sized pieces.
  3. Measure the flour out onto a plate and generously season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss the beef pieces in the four.
  5. Brown off the beef in batches in the cast iron pan adding a touch more oil if necessary.
  6. Set the browned beef aside.
  7. Turn the heat down to low and add the remaining oil to the pot.
  8. As the pot cools, dice the onion, garlic, and carrot.
  9. Add the vegetables to the pan and cook until softened.
  10. Next deglaze the pan with some of the beer by turning the heat back up to high, pouring in some beer, and scraping the bottom of the pot as the beer boils.
  11. Transfer the beef back into the pot along with the rest of the beer, the stock, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar.
  12. At this point you can add any other veggies you want. I added about 1/2 cup of peas and a potato diced into bite sized pieces.
  13. If necessary, add some more water to the pot to make sure all the beef is covered.
  14. Bring to a boil then lid and simmer for an hour.
  15. Remove the lid leave to simmer for another half hour.
  16. Allow to cool completely (ideally overnight) before preparing to bake with a crust.
  17. When you are ready to cook the pie, preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
  18. Spoon the pie filling into your desired baking dish.
  19. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of parchment paper big enough to cover the top of your serving dish. Ideally you want it to be about 2.5mm thick.
  20. Dampen the rim of the rim of the dish and pinch the pastry to the top of the dish.
  21. Cut slits in the pastry.
  22. Whisk the egg with a teaspoon of water.
  23. Brush the egg wash on the top of the pastry.
  24. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  25. Serve with some mash and peas and enjoy :)
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