Earlier in the week I shared my recipe for a vegetarian Spinach, Ricotta and Feta Pie. I love that pie since it is delicious served both hot and cold, making it a great pie to eat all year round. It is hard to beat a good old meat pie though, especially on chillier evenings. My steak, mushroom and ale pie will not disappoint.
This is a classic, good old fashioned tasty meat pie. I've added mushrooms because I like them but they are not essential. I've used a cheap cut of meat and cooked it slowly until tender. My favourite cut of beef for pie is skirt because it has the texture I associated with a traditional meat pie. I buy most of my meat in Suffolk as we have - or at least used to have until they burnt down a couple of weeks ago - an amazingly good butcher in the Village. I was very pleased to hear that they are planning to reopen in temporary premises very soon. It seems to me that beef skirt is only available from a butcher, and I have never seen it in the supermarket. If you don't have a butcher near you, you could use chuck or braising steak instead.
Making the perfect meat filing for the Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie
I often see recipes that brown the meat before browning the onions. Personally, I prefer to do it the other way round. First I soften the onions in a frying pan, tip them into a saucepan or flame proof casserole, and then I brown the meat. Brown the meat in small batches over a high heat, if you add them to the pan all at once it will cool the pan down to much. Do not be tempted to keep moving the meat, leave it for a few moments to give it time to seal the surface of the meat, then turn to seal the other sides.
Once browned on all sides, add to the onion, reduce the heat and stir in the sugar and flour. Cook until browned then add the ale, a little at a time, scraping the pan to release all the crispy brown bits as these will add colour to your gravy. Bring to the boil and pour over the meat. Crumble in the stock cube, add the boiling water and all remaining ingredients except the mushrooms and cook until the meat is tender.
Completing the Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie
Typically my pies just have a pastry top since I like just enough buttery crisp pastry to be a treat with out over indulging. To help the pastry stay in place, I brush the rim of the dish with beaten egg and stick a strip of pastry around the edge of the pie dish first. Then I brush this pastry strip with beaten egg before putting the lid in place and gently pressing down the sides to seal. If you use a deep pie dish it is a good idea to use a pie funnel or upturned egg cup in the centre of the dish to help support the pastry.
If you like your pies to have a top and a bottom you will need to use about 600g of flour and 300g butter to make the pastry. Using about two-thirds of the pastry roll out until it is large enough to line the pie dish with an overhang, then use to line the dish. Only add the filling when completely cold. Then use the remaining pastry to make the lid. Use a metal pie dish rather than a glass or earthenware dish as metal conducts heat better and will help avoid a soggy bottom pastry.
Cut a hole in the centre of the pie to allow the steam to escape and brush the top with beaten egg. You can decorate the top of the pie with a few pastry leaves cut from the pastry trimmings, although to be honest I seldom do unless cooking for guests.
If you have time, prepare the filling as above a day in advance. The flavour really improves if left overnight in the refrigerator. Add the mushrooms just before filling the pie.
Step by step Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie
Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie
for the filling
- 2 –4 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2 large onions sliced
- 1 kg beef skirt braising or chuck steak, cut into cubes
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 300 ml dark ale I used a London Porter
- 2 beef stock cubes
- 400 ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
- few sprigs fresh they or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 200 g mushrooms sliced
for the pastry
- 200 g plain flour
- 100 g butter cut into dice
- cold water to mix
- beaten egg to glaze
To make the filling
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions gently until beginning to brown. Transfer to a saucepan or flameproof casserole.
- Brown the meat in batches, adding a little extra oil as needed. Once browned on all sides, add to the onions.
- Stir the sugar and flour into the frying pan and cook stirring for a few moments until browned. Next, gradually stir in the ale, scraping up the crispy bits on the base of the pan. Bring to the boil and pour over the meat.
- Crumble in the stock cubes and add the boiling water. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, thyme and bay leaves. bring the mixture to the boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1½ Hours or until the meat is tender. Allow to cool and stir in the mushrooms.
To complete the pie
- Place the flour in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough water to mix to a dough and chill for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200℃ /180℃ Fan/gas mark 6.
- Roll out the pastry a little larger than the dish and cover the pie. Trim the edges and pinch together to seal. See step by step pictures.
- Make a slit in the centre to allow steam to escape. Brush the top with beaten egg and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filing is piping hot. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Freeze: Baked for up to 3 months or unbaked for up to 6 months.