This particular pie is not a heavy short-crust pie (or suet-crust pudding) this Steak And Ale Pie comes with a light, puff-pastry top and you can make them individually to serve, so it is the perfect pie for most times of the year. They also freeze well, so making up 8 or so in one go gives you something in the colder months to fall back on - this is a wonderful recipe which evokes the rustic charm of the traditional British village Inn and Pub.
The secrets to making this fantastic pie - Worcestershire Sauce, added into beef stock and gravies, intensifies the ‘beefiness’ of the pie gravy, (Lea and Perrins ‘Worcestershire Sauce’ is still made to the same 1837 recipe and it is aged for 18 months before being sold). However, we also need to add in another traditional ingredient, and that is HP Brown Sauce, made the same way since 1899. Both of these famous British ingredients can be found exported all over the world in shops, and they are worth tracking down, what they bring to this pie is a little bit of magic …
Steak And Ale Pie Recipe
Makes 4 individual Pies – or 1 large Pie for 4
- 1.25kg of beef chuck or braising steak
- 40g plain flour
- 50g butter, diced
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine or crushed
- 400ml of a good Brown Ale or Stout (like Guinness)
- 300ml of Beef Stock
- 2 bay leaves – left whole
- A few fresh Thyme Sprigs, leaves only
- Handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
- 1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
- 1 tbsp Lea & Perrins ‘Worcestershire Sauce’
- 1 tbsp HP Brown sauce
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 500g good quality ready-made puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten for glaze
- 2 tbsp of water, to stick the pastry to the pie dish
Cut the beef into 2.5 cm pieces. Season the flour, with the salt and pepper on a large plate. Toss the chopped beef in the seasoned flour to coat it all over.
Heat a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium-high heat, then add in half the butter and half the vegetable oil. Fry the mushrooms for 2 minutes, then add in the garlic and onions and fry until the onions are soft and golden. Remove and set aside in a large bowl.
Put in the remaining half of the butter and half of the vegetable oil into the pan, bring it back up to a medium-high heat and fry the beef in small batches, this is so the temperature of the pan does not drop and stew the beef instead of frying it.
This will take about 5 minutes per batch to brown all the meat – place each batch in the bowl with the mushrooms and onions once browned. Don’t worry if the pan gets crispy brown bits from the high frying temperature and butter/flour frying but make sure they don’t burn or blacken.
After browning all the meat we need to de-glaze the pan. Add in about 4 tablespoons of ale and scrape all the brown bits off the pan and into the liquid.
Return all the fried onions, mushrooms and steak back to the pan, add all the rest of the ale, the beef stock, bay leaves, two thirds of the thyme leaves, tomato puree, and Worcestershire Sauce. Stir, bring to just under the boil, then turn the heat down to a very low simmer, cover the pan with a lid and cook very gently for 2 hours – giving it a stir every so often.
After 2 hours, using a slotted spoon, remove all the steak and mushrooms from the stock (leave as much liquid in the pan as possible) and place the meat and mushrooms into 4 individual oven pie dishes (or 1 large oven pie dish). The 4 individual ceramic pie dishes are enough for one person each.
Discard the bay leaves from the stock. Taste and adjust the stock using a little sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and add the HP Sauce. This liquid stock now needs to be boiled steadily on a medium heat (without the lid on the pan) until it reduces to a thick gravy.
Once thickened stir in the chopped parsley and then pour the gravy over the meat and mushrooms in the pie dishes and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Roll out the pre-made puff pastry for the steak and ale pies on a lightly floured work surface – to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut out 4 shapes that will fit over the top of the 4 pie dishes you are going to use and become the pie lid or crust. From the remaining pastry, re-gather, re-roll and cut out four (long) 2 cm wide strips of pastry to go around the rims of the pie dish.
Brush the rims of the four individual pie dishes with a little water. Lay the long 2 cm pastry strips around the rims, joining them to fit together, and moulding them to the rim, hanging down equally over the outside and inside of the pie dish.
Brush these pastry strips with a little more water. Then lift the pastry lids (Pie Crust) over each pie, pressing them down and sealing them to the pastry strips you ran around the pie dish rim.
Brush the top of these steak and ale pie lids (crusts) with the beaten egg glaze and sprinkle on some sea salt and a few fresh thyme leaves. Note: It is at this stage you can freeze the pies for up to 2 months wrapped in foil – if freezing, remove to thaw for a day and then bake as below.
Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the pie is piping hot.
Serve the Steak And Ale Pie, still in its pie dish or tin, place them on a large dining plate with chips and peas (traditional) or whatever seasonal vegetables, potatoes or mash etc that you want.