Steak and Ale Pie

Steak and Ale Pie

The cold weather might has finally arrived, and what better way to guard against the winter chill than by making this hearty Steak and Ale Pie? Tender slow-cooked beef with a rich dark ale and mushroom gravy combine with crisp buttery shortcrust pastry in this crowd-pleasing recipe. The secret to this dish lies in slow cooking the beef. Ask your butcher for diced stewing or braising steak and braise the meat in the oven for two to three hours. If you have a slow cooker, consider following the recipe and transferring the meat, sauce and vegetables into the slow cooker on the 'low' setting for six to eight hours. The pastry will keep well in the fridge, so if you could prepare it the day before if you want to. If you want to make the pastry by hand, rather than using the food processor, rub the fat into the flour with your finger tips and try to handle the pastry as little as possible.

This recipe makes great use of the old fashioned kitchen favourite, the ceramic pie bird, which is placed in the centre of the pie to allow steam to escape from the crust and prevents the sauce bubbling up and spoiling the pretty pastry pattern. You will also need ceramic baking beans to blind bake the pie crust and avoid a soggy bottom. 

Equipment

 

Wooden spoon

Sharp knife

Chopping board

Large casserole dish with a lid

Food processor

Cling film

Rolling pin

Tala ceramic pie dish

Pastry brush

Baking beans

Fork 

Ingredients

 

For the pie filling:

2tbs vegetable oil

2 rashers smoked bacon

1kg diced braising steak

1 celery stick, roughly chopped

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

50g mushrooms, sliced

3tbs (slightly heaped) plain flour

1 beef stock cube dissolved in 200ml hot water

1 bottle of dark ale (500ml)

 

For the pastry:

650g plain flour

150g lard

150g butter

200ml water (roughly)

1 egg (for egg wash)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees centigrade (284 degrees Fahrenheit).

2. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large casserole dish and fry the steak in batches. When the meat is browned, set aside on a plate.

3. Turn the heat down slightly and add the rest of the oil to the casserole dish, adding the bacon, onion, celery and finally carrots and frying for a further two to three minutes.

4. Sprinkle over the flour and mix briefly but thoroughly so that there are no dry pockets of flour.

5. Pour over the ale and stock and stir until thoroughly combined, then add the sliced mushrooms and stir again.

6. Bring to simmering point, then put the lid onto the dish and place in the oven to simmer away for two and a half hours. (Or transfer the mixture to the slow cooker if you prefer.)

7. While the meat is braising, you can press on with the pastry. Fit the food processor with the general-purpose cutting blade.

8. Cube the butter and lard by hand and place in the bottom of the food processor with the flour.

9. Pulse the mixture until you have fine floury crumbs then add the water, bit by bit until the mixture just comes to together.

10. Tip out the mixture, push into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least an hour.

11. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade (338 degrees Fahrenheit).

12. When the pastry is nicely chilled, sprinkle your work surface with flour and cut the pastry ball in half. Return one half to the fridge, and work the other half into a smaller ball, rolling it out to a thickness of about 3-4mm.

13. With a sharp knife, cut a large circle big enough to line the inside of the pie dish and use the rolling pin to lift and drape it over the pie dish, gently pressing it down with your fingers to line the inside of the dish.

14. Trim away the excess pastry (allowing a little extra in case of shrinkage) and add the scraps to the pastry ball waiting in the fridge.

15. Cut a piece of baking paper large enough to line the surface of the pastry, then pour in the baking beans and gently shake to distribute them evenly

16. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Then, remove from the oven, carefully remove the (very hot) baking beans and baking paper, and bake the pastry again for another 15 minutes.

 17. Stand the pie bird in the middle of the pie dish and heap the pie filling around it

18. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk briefly with a fork.

19. Use the pastry brush to brush around the top edge of the baked pastry crust (this will make a 'glue' to stick the pastry lid in place).

20. Roll out the rest of the pastry, again to a thickness of about 3-4mm and cut a circle in the centre for the pastry bird's head to poke out. A small round pastry cutter works well, but a sharp knife is good too.

21. Use the fork to press the pastry lid onto the pre-bake crust, all around the sides of the pie.

22. Roll the pastry out slightly thinner and use a sharp knife to cut lots of tiny 'leaf' shapes. Attach the leaves to the pie with brushed-on egg in any pattern you please. I've chosen to encircle the pastry bird with a crown of pastry leaves and used the same size leaves to disguise the fork marks around the edges of the pie.

23. Bake for a further 40-50 minutes until the pie is a glorious golden brown colour and serve with mash and your choice of green vegetable. 

To read more about how you can achieve the perfect homemade pie, read some more of our articles below:

Tala Baking Beans Guide for Light & Crispy Pastry

baking beans

Tala Pie Bird Guide for Perfect Homemade Pies

PIE BIRD




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