This is a typical Guerilla Griller recipe, in that it is completely adaptable: this Steak and Ale Pie could so easily become a Chicken in White Wine Sauce Pie, or Rabbit in Cider Pie, or a Leek and Mushroom Pie etc etc. It would be no great stretch, either, to make individual pasties from these ingredients: simply roll out the pastry, cut into circles, pop in the filling, fold in half, crimp the edges, egg wash and bake in the oven until golden. Once you’ve made one pie or pastie, you can make a dozen, only limited by your imagination, your budget or the contents of your larder.
This does look like a lot of time-consuming work, with its several stages, but in fact making the pastry takes around five minutes, rolling it out less than five, preparing the filling maybe ten minutes, a fair amount of bubbling away on the stove or in the oven while you get on with something else, and a final assembly of five minutes before popping the whole thing back into the oven to finish. You could easily make the blind baked pastry case and the filling ahead of time, even the day before, and put it all together and bake when you are ready.
I absolutely refuse to specify the size and dimensions of the pie dish or tin; every recipe I have for pies etc gives a different size, and if I followed each one slavishly, I would have about two dozen different tins and dishes in my cupboard. Use whatever you have, or if you must go and buy one, get a “medium” sized pie dish. No, I don’t know what medium is, either. Have a look at the dish, imagine it full of fresh baked pie, and decide if that will satisfy the amount of people you are feeding.
I do prefer to use metal tins, though: the base will be crisper than if cooked in a glass or ceramic one. But, as I say, use what you have.
For the meat, you can use leftovers from the Sunday roast, cut into bite-sized chunks. If using raw meat, you could use cuts of stewing beef (chuck, skirt, shin etc) or, only if you find a bargain, as this is supposed to be an economical meal, some rump steak or similar.
For the ale, you need a good, British-style beer, hoppy and fruity. If this is not easily acquired in your corner of the world, you could substitute any good local beer (and I mean GOOD, not a mass produced lager), or Guinness, which is fairly widely available.
Steak and Ale Pie recipe
To feed around four, you will need…
Two quantities of shortcrust pastry (full recipe and instructions for this here), about two thirds of it lining a tin prepared for blind baking, with the rest of the pastry for the “lid”. You will almost certainly have some pastry left over, but as I don’t know the size or depth of your tin or pie dish, it’s best to use the double amount I suggest – in other words, starting with 24oz/680g flour and the rest of the ingredients in proportion.
For the filling:
About a pound and a half/675g beef or steak, leftovers or fresh (see above)
About a pint/570ml of good ale (see above)
An onion, sliced not too finely
A carrot or two, diced
Two cloves of garlic, crushed or finely diced
A stick of celery, finely diced
A sprig or two of herbs such as thyme or rosemary (rosemary goes as well with beef as it does with lamb) and a bay leaf or two
A small spoonful or two of your favourite mustard
A dash of tomato ketchup/catsup
A dash of worcestershire sauce
Salt and ground black pepper
About an ounce/30g plain flour
A little oil for frying
Using a large frying pan or saucepan, sweat the vegetables in a little oil until softened and taking on a little colour. Remove from the pan and reserve. Put the flour in a bowl or into a plastic bag, season well with the salt and pepper. Coat the meat in the flour by tossing around in the bowl, or shaking in the bag. Fry the meat briskly (you may need a little more oil) until it begins to brown – you are not trying to cook it all the way through here. Don’t overcrowd the pan, if necessary do this in batches so the meat really fries, rather than drowns and steams in its own juices.
Once the meat is browned, return the vegetables and all the other ingredients except the ale. Now add the ale in stages, starting with about half of it. Let the ale bubble with the other ingredients until it starts to form a gravy with the flour from the meat. You are looking for a “moist not wet” result, so only add more ale if necessary.
You can continue to cook the filling either on the hob, or, after transferring to a suitable dish, in the oven on a low to medium setting. If you are using raw stewing beef, you will need to let it cook away gently for two to three hours, until the meat is really tender: if using leftover cooked meat, or raw steak, it will only need half an hour or so. Check the sauce from time to time, adding a little more ale if needed, and stirring well. And check for seasoning, adding a little more salt and pepper if needed.
At any time while this is going on, you can blind bake the pastry base – if you have prepared this ahead of time, don’t forget to reheat it before filling, so the base stays crisp.
Put the filling into the warm blind-baked pastry case in its tin. Brush the edges of the base with egg wash or milk. Lay on the pastry lid, leaving a good margin overhanging, and making sure it is well stuck to the edges of the base, pierce a few air holes to let the steam out, and brush with beaten egg or milk.
Bake at gas mark 5/190C/375F until the top is golden brown – around forty minutes. Trim any excess pastry from the sides with a sharp knife.
Serve hot with vegetables of your choice, and, although it is a carb overload, mashed potato – mashed potato and crispy pastry is a great combination. Or eat the pie cold, perhaps with some cole slaw, pickles, and a chunk of crusty bread.
Enjoy your Steak and Ale Pie… Or have you made Chicken in White Wine Sauce Pie, or Rabbit in Cider Pie, or a Leek and Mushroom Pie or something else that your imagination and improvisation led you to?