Friday, September 11, 2015

A Most Delectable Steak and Ale Pie

What a glorious way to start off the autumn season. Steak and Ale Pie is a scrumptious dish. Satisfying, rich in flavor and in depth, the falling-apart beef is dressed in a sumptuous gravy. A flaky cheese and herb pastry adds a layer of complexity, too.  With plenty to go around, this will  be hearty, satisfying, and should serve 8 with leftovers.

I always serve this with garlic mashed potatoes that can sop up that gravy! 

Filling Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
4 field mushrooms, peeled and sliced
1.5 lb quality brisket of beef or stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes (if you get a roast on the bone, drop the bone into the filling along with the beef to add more flavor)
2 rashers of bacon 
a few sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle Guinness or other dark beer
1 qt. beef stock
 1/3 cup flour
1 cup sharp, white Cheddar cheese, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until bubbling. Add in your vegetables, garlic, rosemary, pepper, and 2 tsp. salt. Simmer until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the beef (and beef bone if you are using it), bacon, and stir in the flour. Next, pour in the beer, and pour over stock to just cover the meat and vegetables. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, and then place in the oven for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Make your pastry during this time.

Remove from the oven, give it a good stir, and place on the stove top. Continue simmering uncovered for another half hour, or until the sauce has thickened and the meat is soft. 

Preheat oven a second time, to 425F. 

Pour filling into a prepared casserole dish of appropriate size (I used a 9x13 pan with high edges). Drape pastry over the pie, cut in a few air slits, and cook for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. 

Pastry Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
7 ounces lard, cut into cubes (you can also use butter in a pinch)
2 ounces freshly grated Cheddar cheese
sea salt
a sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 large eggs, beaten
a good splash of milk (about 1/3 cup)
flour for dusting 
Combine flour, cheese, salt and lard in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut into fine crumbs. Add in the herbs , beaten eggs, and some milk. Use a spatula to bring it all together. When you squeeze the dough with your hand it should keep its shape, and not crumble apart. 
Cut two pieces of cling film and lay them out crosswise. Dump the dough clumps out onto it. Fold the edges of the film over snugly and form it into a square disc, about 3/4 inch thick. Cover with another layer, and place in the fridge for about 1 hour. 
Roll out into a rectangle of about 1/4 inch thickness and drape over filled casserole dish to bake, pressing down edges and cutting off excess (which you could keep for later!).