Discover the secret ingredients that take the humble steak and ale pie to new levels. But, be warned: one slice just won’t be enough
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100g smoked bacon lardons or smoked bacon, chopped
- 1kg beef shin, cut into large chunks
- 2 onions , roughly chopped
- 3 carrots , peeled and cut into large chunks
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp malt or red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp brown miso paste (optional)
- 400ml sweet brown ale
- 600ml beef stock made from 2 stock cubes
- few thyme sprigs, stalks and leaves separated
- 2 bay leaves
For the pastry
- 700g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
- 2 tsp English mustard powder
- 150g lard
- 150g butter , plus extra for the dish
- 2 egg yolks , beaten
- STEP 1Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large casserole dish and gently fry the bacon for 5 mins until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same pan, brown the beef well in batches for 5-8 mins, adding a drizzle more oil if you need to, then set aside.
- STEP 2Add the onions and carrots to the pan and cook on a low heat for 5 mins. Stir in the flour, then add the tomato purée, vinegar and miso, if using. Tip the beef and bacon, along with any juices, back into the pan and give it all a good stir. Pour in the ale and stock, and nestle in the thyme stalks and bay. Season generously and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for about 2 hrs or until the meat is really tender. Leave everything to cool slightly, then strain off about half the braising liquid into another container. Leave to cool completely. Can be made up to two days ahead and kept chilled in the fridge – the pie will be better if the filling is fridge-cold when added. Can also be frozen for up to three months.
- STEP 3To make the pastry, mix the flour, mustard powder, lard and butter with a generous pinch of sea salt until completely combined, then gradually add up to 250ml ice-cold water to make a soft dough. This can be done in a food processor if you prefer. Knead the thyme leaves into the pastry, then cover and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hr. Can be made up to two days ahead and kept chilled, or frozen for up to a month.
- STEP 4Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and put a baking tray in the oven. Heavily butter a 26-28cm pie dish and dust well with flour. Cut off a third of the pastry and set aside. Roll out the remaining pastry to a thick round that will easily line the pie dish with an overhang, then line the tin. Tip in the beef mixture. You want the filling to be slightly higher than the rim of the dish. Brush the edges with egg yolk. Roll out the remaining pastry to a thick round, big enough to cover the pie, then lift onto the pie dish. Trim the edges, crimp together, then re-roll the trimmings and cut into decorative shapes, such as leaves. Brush the top with more yolk. Make a hole in the centre of the pie with a knife, and put it on the hot baking tray.
- STEP 5Bake for 20 mins, remove, brush again with yolk, scatter with sea salt and bake for 20-25 mins until golden. Leave to rest for 10 mins while you heat up the extra gravy.
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