Steak and ale pie is a classic, comfort food recipe that will go down well at any dinner table. It features on nearly every pub menu across Britain and it does a wonderful job of warming our hearts and bellies, especially during the winter months. Make this pie at home with fall-apart chunks of braising steak and either homemade or shop bought shortcrust pastry.
300mlBeef stockI used 2 oxo cubes dissolved in 300ml of water
Few sprigs of fresh Parsleythyme and 2 bay leaves tied together in a bundle with some string (bouquet garni)
For the pastry
1egg yolkoptional - adds a bit a richness but not necessary
Around 50-100ml of cold water.
Extra flour for rolling out pastry
1egg to glaze
A bit of margarine/soft butter and flour to grease and flour the pie dish
If you prefer you can use shop bought shortcrust pastry
Timings for steak and ale pie
The filling for steak and ale pie will take around 20 minutes to prepare before being cooked long and slow in the oven for around 2 hours 30mins. So you could make the filling first thing in the morning and even go out once its in the oven. After cooking, the filling needs to be thoroughly cooled, so leave plenty of time for this to happen. If you are making the pastry you will need 20 minutes for the pastry to chill in the fridge before rolling it out. Once the pie is assembled the whole thing goes back in the oven at a slightly higher temperature for around 45 minutes.
Preparing the steak filling
Pre heat oven to 160 degrees C (Fan).
If your braising steak is in one large piece, begin by slicing this into bite sized chunks.
Place a medium casserole dish on a medium heat. Add the butter and wait for it to melt. Next add the chunks of braising steak and sear off in the butter. You may need to do this in batches. Once the outside layer of the steak has taken on some colour, remove the meat from the dish and set to one side.
Keep the casserole dish on the medium heat (add more butter if required) then add the chopped onions, celery and carrot. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle 3 tbsp plain flour over the veg and mix in, this will help to thicken the gravy later on.
Next pour in 300ml of pale/amber ale.
Followed by 300ml of beef stock and stir in well.
Add 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, stir and start to bring the whole pot to the boil.
Meanwhile, bunch together the sprigs of parsley and thyme. Wrap the bay leaves around the sprigs and then tie together with string to create a bouquet garni. Add the bouquet Garni to the pot and dunk into the centre using a spoon.
Once the steak and ale stew starts to boil, place on the lid and transfer to the centre of a pre heated oven. Bake at 160 degrees for 2 hours 30 minutes.
After 2 hours 30 minutes, remove the casserole dish from the oven.
Transfer the steak and ale filling to a dish or container using a slotted spoon or sieve. This will leave the gravy behind in the casserole dish. leave the steak filling on the side to cool completely and transfer the gravy to a separate container for later.
(Once cooled you can add to your pie or cover and store in the fridge until you are ready to make your pie).
Making the pastry for steak pie
First grease your pie dish with margarine or soft butter then use a sieve to sprinkle flour over the top pf the butter. Knock out any excess flour by turning upside down over the sink and lightly tapping the dish. This will help to stop the pastry sticking to the dish during baking.
If you are using store bought pastry you will need two sheets. Then simply roll out the first sheet of pastry and line the bottom of the pie dish. Then trim and add the cooled steak filling. Roll out your second sheet and place over the filling. Trim the edges and seal with a fork.
If you are making your pastry from scratch add 400g plain flour, 200g unsalted cold butter and a pinch of salt to a large mixing bowl.
Use your fingertips to rub together the butter and flour into a breadcrumb consistency. (TIP: using your finger tips keeps the heat of your hands away from the pastry mix so helping to keep the pastry cool. This makes it easier to roll out and helps to stop shrinkage in the oven.)
Next add the egg yolk and roughly mix in with your fingers.
Next start to slowly add in the cold water. You will only need a bit at a time and possibly only up to 50 or 75ml in total. With each small addition mix in with your fingers and start to bring together into a pastry.
Stop adding water as soon as the pastry is together in one piece. Turn out onto the work surface and shape into a ball.
Cut the pastry in half, then wrap each half in cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Putting the pie together
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C (Fan).
After the pastry has been chilling for 20 minutes, take one of the pastry halves and remove the cling film. Flour your work surface then carefully roll out the pastry. You want to roll this to be slightly bigger than your pie dish so that it will cover the base and the sides of the dish.
Use the rolling pin to manoeuvre the pastry into position in the dish. Use your finger tips to gently push the pastry into the corners and sides of the dish. Try not to over handle the pastry whilst doing this. Use a knife to trim around the edges.
Next take the cooled steak and ale filling and carefully transfer to your pie dish over the top of the base pastry. Fill to the top and then use the back of a spoon to gentle press down on the filling and flatten the top.
Now take the second half of the pastry, unwrap, flour work top and roll out as before. Use the rolling pin again to help position the pastry over the top of the filling. Trim with a knife and seal the edges with a fork.
Use any trimmed off pastry to cut out pastry leaves for decoration.
Cut two small holes in the top of the pastry lid to allow steam to escape. Stick the leaves into place with a bit of water and then glaze the whole pastry lid with egg.
Place the pie in the centre of a pre heated oven and bake at 180 degrees C (Fan) for 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden.
Heat up the gravy saved from earlier and serve with the pie and your choice of veg and potatoes.
Timings for steak and ale pieThe filling for steak and ale pie will take around 20 minutes to prepare before being cooked long and slow in the oven for around 2 hours 30mins. So you could make the filling first thing in the morning and even go out once its in the oven. After cooking, the filling needs to be thoroughly cooled, so leave plenty of time for this to happen. If you are making the pastry you will need 20 minutes for the pastry to chill in the fridge before rolling it out. Once the pie is assembled the whole thing goes back in the oven at a slightly higher temperature for around 45 minutes.Pie filling: make sure the steak filling has completely cooled before placing onto the pastry base. Hot or warm filling will result in soggy pastry, which won't crisp up in the oven.Pastry: When mixing ingredients for the pastry use your finger tips so keeping the heat of your hands away from the pastry mix. This helps to keep the pastry cool. Chill the pastry once its made. cold pastry is easier to roll out and helps to stop shrinkage in the oven.Oven temperatures: cook the filling long and slow on a low temperature (160 degrees fan). Cook the pie for 45 minutes at a higher temperature (180 degrees fan).Gravy: Once the filling is cooked strain the gravy off. Keep the gravy to one side for pouring over your finished pie later. The beef filling should then go into the pie with as little gravy as possible. This means more beef can be compacted into the pie and less liquid means the pastry won't go soggy.Whats the best ale to cook with?For Steak filling that is not too overpowering with the tang of ale, its best to choose lighter ales usually labelled as pale, amber or light brown. For this recipe I chose an amber ale.What goes well with Steak and ale pie?The best accompaniment to any pie is of course the gravy! So make sure you save any excess gravy from this steak and ale pie filling. I also love to serve beef pie with some veg on the side, usually tender stem broccoli but honey glazed carrotsand green bean almondine would also go really well. If you're after a potato side dish, a really easy recipe that can be cooked in the oven along side the pie is this foil pack potatoesrecipe.