Sunday, 4 March 2012

Recipe XLVII - Beef and Ale Pie

The French often sneer when it comes to the cooking of that island off its northern coast, yet they only have one word for dough, pastry, batter and paste: la p√Ęte. The British can distinguish between all different types of flour-based substance, and in this one, they're coming up with one of the finest examples of traditional cooking anywhere. The method is so simple, very little needs to happen, but it requires a little timing. And at the end, it will provide your stomach with all the satisfaction it needs.

900g of steak, diced into bitesize pieces
2 large onions, sliced into rings
10 button mushrooms
6 carrots
75g butter
40g flour seasoned with salt, ground black pepper and dried herbs
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 250ml bottles of Guinness or other stout
275g puff pastry
1 egg

Cut up the vegetables and roll the beef in the seasoned flour.

Put the majority of the butter in a high-sided pan and when melted, fry the beef in it. Once sealed, add the vegetables.

Sweat them for a few minutes, then add the bay leaves and pour the ale in. Put on a low heat and simmer for an hour or more.

Towards the end of the beef's time in the pan, turn on the oven to a little over 200°C. Get your puff pastry and put your baking dish on top of it. With a knife, cut round the outside of the dish to make the top of the pie. Leave it aside until needed. With the rest, roll it into a ball and use it to make a base. Or if you prefer, to make some decoration on the top. I used mine for a base, because I absolutely adore stodgy pastry. Then, with a ladle, pour the contents of the pan into the baking dish.

Then put the top on, and with a fork, pinch the edges of the pastry onto the baking dish to seal it. Brush the egg onto the top of the pastry to glaze. Put it into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

Take the pie out of the oven and leave it for a few minutes to cool.

To take it out of the baking dish, cut through the middle with a knife and put the pastry upside down on a separate plate. Spoon the interior out onto the plate and put the pastry on top.

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