I love shortcrust pastry on top of my pies, but you can use suet crust, puff or flake pastry. If you aren’t a pastry making person or are short of time, ready made pastry works really well.
Beef, Mushroom and Ale Pie
Enough for 4 healthy eaters.
600g diced beef (2.5 cm cubes) (ask the butcher for beef suitable for stewing, I like to use chuck or skirt with the gristle removed. A bit of fat is good for flavour, so don’t trim this off)
2 large onions, sliced or diced
2 carrots, bite sized chunks
300g mushrooms (button mushrooms used whole or large open cup mushrooms sliced)
1.5 tbs flour with good pinch of salt and pepper added
25 g of butter or dripping or 1 tablespoon sunflower/rape seed oil
1 tbs tomato puree or ketchup
400 – 450ml ale (*I like to use a local ale)
Herbs optional (a couple of bay leaves, some chopped parsley stalks and fresh thyme or winter savoury)
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
Ground nutmeg optional(about 1/5th tsp)
Shortcrust pastry (400g flour will make the correct amount if you want to readjust the recipe).
1 egg to glaze top of pie
- Make the pastry and chill, or make sure your pastry has been defrosted.
- Make sure the beef is dry and toss it in the seasoned flour . It is easier to do this in 2 or 3 batches so the pieces don’t stick together.
- Heat 1/3 of the fat in a saucepan with plenty of room to hold all the ingredients. Add 1/3 of the meat, coated in the seasoned flour and brown gently, remove from saucepan and place in a bowl. Add the next third of the meat and repeat, adding more fat as required.
- Once all the meat is browned, deglaze the saucepan with a splash of the ale . Pour the tasty liquid over your beef in the bowl, set aside.
- Add the remainder of the fat to your saucepan and add the onion and carrot. Brown ever so slightly, add mushrooms, garlic and nutmeg if using. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Now add the tomato puree and stir. Return the beef to the saucepan.
- Gradually add the ale until the mixture in the saucepan is covered.
- Add herbs and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover saucepan and cook for around 1 – 2 hours until the beef is tender. Stir regularly to prevent mixture from sticking. Add more ale if necesary, the mixture wants to remain well covered with liquid. If using skirt this may take a bit longer to become tender, but the flavour is well worth the wait.
- Preheat oven to 190F / 375C/ gas 5.
- Roll out pastry to fit top of pie.
- Decant the mixture into a suitable pie dish.
- Brush the rim of the dish with egg and gently place your rolled pastry on top of pie. pressing gently to edge (egg will help pastry seal). Quickly brush top of pastry with egg (I do this before I place the pastry on top of the pie, to speed along the process. The less amount of time the pastry is on top of the pie before it is placed in the oven the better). Make a hole in the pastry in middle of the pie to allow steam to pass through.
- Place in the centre of the oven for around 45 minutes, until pastry cooked through and golden.
You can make the filling in advance and chill or freeze and make into a pie as and when required.
Delicious with mash or baked potatoes and fresh vegetables.
*Oxfordshire Ales, Triple ‘B’, Extra Ordinary Bitter, from Marsh Gibbon. Delicious to drink with your pie as well as use in it. An ale “For everyday quoffing, we traditionally brew our classic bitter to give a light nutty malt, well-hopped bitterness and easy drinking enjoyment. This is no ordinary ale.” Available from Eynsham Cellars.
Oli from Eynsham Cellars also recommends Luberon, a wine from the Southern Rhone, made from a blend of Grenache and Syrah. “It is well balanced on the palate with black fruit aromas (blueberry, blackberry and blackcurrant) and white pepper. It is refined with a great length. this wine will stand up well to hearty food like beef and ale pie”.