The family is hungry, so what do you turn to? This pie. You can make the pie, or several pies up, and just before baking they can be put in the freezer for emergencies, and for wonderful family dinners. This pie is a true classic, beef and ale. There is no better combination. And with a rich silky gravy and tender meat, with the added shortcrust pastry in the base of the pie, it is both filling and heart-warming.
Family Steak & Ale Pie Recipe
Serves 6 in a 1.2 litre pie dish
- 900g braising steak (trimmed)
- 250g chestnut mushrooms (quartered)
- 500ml real ale
- 500ml beef stock
- 4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
- 200g streaky bacon rashers (cut the rinds off and into 2cm strips)
- 2 medium onions (peeled and sliced)
- 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves stripped)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp cold water
- pinch of flaked sea salt
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
see this masterclass on making shortcrust pastry
- 225g plain flour (plus extra for dusting work surface)
- 120g butter softened (cut into cubes)
- pinch sea salt
- 1 large egg (beaten)
pie crust pastry (puff pastry – bought)
- 500g ready-made puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk with 1 tbsp milk (beaten to glaze)
For the pie filling: In a large frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry off the bacon strips with the chopped onions until pale golden brown. then add the garlic, and fry for another two minutes, until softened. Take off the heat and using a slotted spoon transfer the onions, garlic and bacon to a heat-proof casserole dish, leaving behind the oil in the pan.
Cut the braising steak into bite-sized cubes and season with salt and pepper. Heat another 2 tablespoons of the oil in the frying pan and fry the meat to brown. Fry the beef over a medium-high heat in 3 batches, until well browned all over. If you try to fry all of the beef all in one go the heat will be lost and the beef will stew. Add extra oil if needed. As each batch is browned transfer the beef to the casserole dish with the bacon and onions.
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Keeping the frying pan on the heat and deglaze it with a third of the ale. To deglaze: bring the ale up to the boil, and while stirring hard with a wooden spoon, lift all the sediment from the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the beef. Also into the casserole dish add the remaining ale, then the stock, tomato purée and herbs. Stir then cover the dish with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours (90 minutes to 120 minutes). The meat needs to be very tender at the end.
For the shortcrust pastry: see this masterclass on making shortcrust pastry. This goes into the base of the buttered pie dish. In a mixing bowl sift in the flour and add the salt. Take the diced butter and rub this into the flour with your finger-tips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the beaten egg to bring the flour and butter into a pastry dough which is silky and smooth- add a little cold water or flour if needed. Shape it into a slightly flattened ball, cover in cling film, and place the pastry dough in the fridge to chill for twenty minutes.
Remove the pastry dough and. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick and use it to line your buttered pie dish (a 1.2 litre pie dish) – trim it neatly with a little over-hang. Cover the dish and place into the fridge for later.
Making the pie: With 5 minutes left to go with the casserole in the oven – In a small bowl add the cornflour and water to make a paste. Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Stir in the cornflour paste then put it back into the oven for 5 minutes, until the gravy juices are thick.
Meanwhile in the frying pan add a little oil and fry the mushroom quarters over a high heat for about 5 minutes until golden. Remove the casserole for the final time, take the lid off and stir. Add the fried mushrooms, stir and taste – adjust the seasoning. Put the lid back on the casserole dish and leave somewhere to fully cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C
When the pie filling is cool – take the pie dish lined with pastry out of the fridge. Spoon all the pie filling into the pie dish. Brush the pastry edges with a little beaten egg yolk.
Roll out the puff pastry on a well-floured work surface until about 7mm thick and a few centimetres larger than your pie dish. Using the rolling pin place the pastry lid carefully over the filling. Seal the top of the pie pastry to the base. Trim off any excess pastry with a sharp knife and using the back of a fork crimp the edges to fully seal the pie. Brush the top with beaten egg yolk. [At this point you can freeze the pie, wrapped in cling-film and foil, for a month].
Place the pie dish on a baking sheet and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the pastry top is puffed up and golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven allow to cool and serve with seasonal steamed veg and a creamy mash potato (or chips).