Steak & Ale Pie with Pickled Walnuts.
We have created a good recipe for some proper home pie making, this is different from the fully encased individual pies we sell in the Fortnum & Mason deli, as they would prove to be far more complicated to make at home but we are certain you’ll enjoy this! The filling for any pie that includes beef means a commitment time wise but stick with it as it’s so worth it. But why not make double the quantity of filling
while you’re going to the effort and then you have a ready made casserole for another night or for the freezer! The over all results will be even better with a homemade stock but don’t beat yourself up if this just isn’t possible!
Makes a good meal for 4 but if you love 2nd’s & 3rd’s, maybe a generous pie for 2!
Ingredients for the pie filling:
800g beef shin, or blade, cut into chunks
Olive Oil (or solidified fat from surface of a homemade stock)
300g small shallots, peeled
100g celery sticks, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced
Fresh sprig of thyme
Bay leaf or two
3 pickled walnuts, some of the vinegar too so keep jar handy.
50g plain flour
1 tsp tomato puree
200ml beef stock, preferably homemade otherwise shop-bought. If you
have homemade chicken stock, this would also be fine.
350ml dark flavoursome Ale, we use an Exeter Brewery Ale called ‘Darkness’
Ingredients for the short-crust pastry:
(don’t be tempted to get these ingredients ready until the pie filling is in the oven, you need all of them to remain
cool, plus you’ll have plenty of time)
100g butter, chilled & cubed
200g plain flour
approx 35ml chilled water
Fresh Thyme sprig, leaves removed (optional)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Begin by getting the pie filling made and in the oven as it takes some time to cook. If you’ve made stock from scratch you may have some solidified fat on the surface – in which case use this to melt as fat in a
heavy based frying pan or hob/oven friendly casserole dish. Otherwise a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil. Once heated, brown off the chunks of beef in batches, you don’t want to over-fill the pan with meat as it will just sweat rather than brown. It may take 3 or so rounds. Remove the beef and rest in a bowl. Throw the shallots in the remaining fat and start to soften. After a few minutes add the diced celery, sauté until the vegetables have a good even browning. Then add herbs along with the garlic but you only want this to soften slightly, you don’t want it to burn or even brown so only sauté for a minute. Then remove from the heat and add the sauteéd vegetables to meat, adding the pickled walnuts by crumbling them in with the other ingredients.
Return the pan to a low heat and add another 2 tablespoons of fat followed by the 50g of plain flour. Keep stiring so the flour doesn’t stick and it combines to make a thick paste. Add the tomato pureé, stir and then add the ale but bit by bit, stiring all the time to make a smooth sauce. Scrape all the goodness from searing the meat around the pan into the sauce as you go. Add the beef stock and approximately 4 shakes of the Worcester Sauce. Season with a good pinch of salt and a hefty grind of pepper. Then add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar from the jar of pickled walnuts to add a hint of sharpness.
Now, if your going to use this same pan or casserole dish you now have the sauce in for the oven, return
the beef and vegetable mix to the sauce and combine. If you need to transfer this to a suitable ovenproof dish, do this along with the mixture but it must have a lid that fits. Pop into a pre-heated oven, at 160°C for approximately 3 hours however you might find the strength of your oven does it in 2.5 hours. You are aiming for the chunks of beef to become really tender and eat really well with all the marbled fat having melted away. Check on the filling a few times over the course of the 3 hours, if you find it’s looking a fraction dry, simply add some extra stock to loosen the mixture up.
While this cooks away in the oven, have a little clear down and you can immediately get on with the pastry.
You want all your ingredients to be as cool as possible, this is important. Sift the flour into a bowl and add
the chilled cubes of butter. With your finger tips gently start to rub them together as if making a crumble
topping. Keep lifting your hands high above the bowl as you rub to allow as much air in as possible. Doing
this swiftly is also important so as not to warm up the ingredients too much as you go. If using the Thyme
leaves add them now along with seasoning, a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper and lightly mix in. Once
you have a crumbly mixture you can start to add the cold water bit by bit, using a knife to bring the
ingredients together as you go. It’s important to do this gradually as you may find you don’t need all the
water (equally you may need a few drops more) – eventually you’ll need to use your hands to bring the
mixture together. You need to aim for a ball of pastry that’s well combined but not crumbling nor too wet.
Sit it on the surface and gently knead but only swiftly, it doesn’t want to be overworked. It’s a bore but if
you don’t want your pastry to crumble as you roll it out or shrink while cooking, at this stage you should
really allow your pastry to rest. Wrap in a bag or clingfilm and pop in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, or until
ready to use.
When you are certain your pie filling has cooked enough, remove from the oven. Turn the oven up to 180°C if planning to cook the pie promptly. When you are ready to assemble your pie, put the required amount of filling into one or separate pie dishes and remove the pastry from the fridge. You need a clean, flat work surface that has been lightly floured. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry out gently to approximately 0.5cm – this depends on you a bit and how thick you like your pastry! Obviously the thinner you roll it the crispier it will be but don’t go so thin that it’s hard to work with. Brush the side facing you lightly with water (this helps it stick to the pie dish) Place your rolled out piece over the pie, water brushed side down. Before trimming, use your finger tips to crimp around the edges of the pie dish and help it seal, using the back of a fork if you wish. Only then use a knife to gently trim excess pastry from around the sides. Make 2 or 3 incisions in the centre of the pie to help air escape, then brush over the beaten egg yolk to give the pie a healthy glow and an attractive glaze.
Put your pie in the oven on a central shelf and bake for approximately 25/30 minutes or until the pastry is
golden. Your filling is cooked already of course so this is just about getting a wonderfully golden pastry lid!