Challenge#2/Steak and Ale Pie

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The cure for the mid-January blues is here. There is no need to look further….really, I’m serious. I’m not sure whether it is a cultural hangover from the British, or just a nod to the knowledge that everything tastes better in pastry. Either way this is the holy grail of comfort food. Steak and ale pie breathes cozy, huddled around a fire with your mates drinking a nice ale (I will refrain from commenting further.) As per usual, I followed no recipe and therefore was not bound by some unspoken pastry or meat pie recipe. To all of you who are thinking this is in some way authentic…..I’m sorry…You will be disappointed. But to those of you who enjoy meat and a hearty pastry then proceed without caution or reservation to the recipe below, eating your fill, satisfying that urge to discard those New Year’s resolutions.

What you need:

  • 1 kilo (2 pounds) of stewing beef.
  • 1 litre of a good ale or stout beer.
  • 2 medium onions, studded with 5 cloves.
  • 2 medium carrots, washed and left whole.
  • 2-3 bay leaves.
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns.
  • Water as needed.
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1 cm slices.
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 2 cm dice (porcini are better if you can get them.)
  • 3 green onions chopped into 2 cm segments.
  • 2 tbsp flour (for the roux.)
  • 2 tbsp butter (for the roux.)
  • 1 kilo flour (for the pastry.)
  • 1 tsp salt (for the pastry.)
  • 1 cup olive oil (for the pastry.)
  • 2 cups hot water (for the pastry).
  • Olive oil as needed.
  • 1 egg white (for brushing the surface of the pie)
  • Salt and pepper as needed.

How it’s done:

  • In a large stock pot, place your beef, whole carrots, studded onions, bay leaves, peppercorns and add enough water to cover.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or so.
  • Pull the beef out and let cool enough to handle. (Do not discard cooking liquid.)
  • Slice the beef into 2cm (1″) cubes.
  • In a deep sauté pan add your beef cubes, sliced carrots, green onions, mushrooms and half of the beer.
  • Simmer until almost all of the beer has evaporated.
  • Add some of the braising stock ladleful by ladleful as it evaporates.
  • Continue in this way until the carrots and onions have cooked through.
  • In a separate saucepan, add the flour and butter, cooking until you have a brown roux.
  • Slowly add the rest of the beer to the roux, stirring with a whisk until all of the beer is incorporated. If you need more liquid add the beef stock. Continue adding liquid until you have created a thick and flavourful gravy.
  • Once the beef/veggies are fully cooked add the beer gravy, stir well and remove from the heat.
  • Now for the pastry:
  • In a large bowl, combine flour and salt and cut in the oil.
  • Add the hot water and mix until a dough forms.
  • Divide the dough into two pieces (one for the top, the other for the bottom)
  • Roll out the bottom dough until it is about half a cm thick.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the surface, fold in half, drizzle again, fold in half again.
  • Now roll out the dough until it is about 1cm thick.
  • Do the same with the other piece, making sure it is big enough to cover the bottom of your pie pan.
  • Place the bottom layer in a greased pie dish or any sizeable round oven dish.
  • Add your meat/beer filling.
  • Take your second piece of pastry and cover it all, making sure the top is sealed, trimming off any excess. (see picture)
  • Poke a few holes with a fork, wash with egg white and bake at 180C until the crust is browned and the filling is hot.

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