life on a smallholding

not quite a business, but more than a hobby

My best ever pie — Wednesday, 7th March

My best ever pie

Steak and stout pie
Steak and stout pie

For British pie week I thought I would roll out my favourite pie of all time.  It’s made with our very own Dexter beef, hung for over 21 days and stout brewed by our good friends and neighbours.  I have to admit that I am no expert on steak, having been a vegetarian for 25 years and only returning to meat eating when we began to raise our own.  I can’t compare our beef with the supermarket variety as I never buy it, but the flavour of this pie was superb.  A blend of the simply stunning meat, dark stout which added an undoubted depth of flavour and I can’t forget the home-made flaky pastry, made this a pie to remember.

Whenever I come across a recipe that lists shop bought pastry amongst its ingredients, I move on quickly.  Making pastry used to be as scary to me as using a piping bag but these days I whip up a batch without thinking.  I love a nice rough puff but find that the recipes that use equal flour to butter end up with the pastry literally melting in the oven.  I try to aim for a 3/4 butter to flour mix.

Thanks to a good half an hour on the bottom on my oven, this pastry turned out crisp and flaky and the base was cooked to perfection which is the ultimate test in our house.  The finishing touch for me was the old pie funnel given to me by my mum.  It belonged to my grandmother who always used it in her steak and kidney pies.

Ingredients

Chunks of lean Dexter beef
Chunks of lean Dexter beef
  • 500g diced beef
  • 25g flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g butter
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 300ml good-quality stout
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 free-range whole egg beaten
  • 300g puff pastry approx (see below)
  1. Dip the meat into the seasoned flour, then place a large lidded pan on the hob.
  2. Heat half the butter in the pan and add the meat. Sear all over until golden brown.
  3. Add the vegetables and herbs, then pour in the stout and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and gently simmer on the stove for 1½ hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  5. Once cooked, season the meat and add the remaining butter, stirring until melted.
  6. Roll out a third of the pastry using as little flour as possible and line the base of the pie dish.
  7. Place the pie funnel in the centre and pour in the filling.
  8. Roll out the remainder of the pastry ensuring it’s large enough to cover the pie.
  9. Brush the rim of the pastry with beaten egg and lay the top in position.  Trim the edges and pinch the pastry together all the way round.  Any leftover pastry can be cut into shapes and laid on top.
  10. Paint the beaten egg over the top of the pie.
  11. Pierce a hole in the centre of the pastry over the funnel.
  12. Place on a hot baking tray and cook in the oven for 40-50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown on top. Serve.

Rough puff pastry ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 170g butter
  • pinch salt
  • 150ml ice cold water
  1. Sift the flour and the salt into the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour.
  3. Mix briefly to distribute the butter throughout the flour.
  4. Gradually add the water until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and starts to come together.  The butter should still visible throughout the flour.
  5. Tip the mixture out onto cling film, pat into a rectangle, wrap firmly and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
  6. When ready to use unwrap cling film and sprinkle some flour on the dough.  Roll out the dough in a rectangle sandwiched in the cling film.  Fold into thirds and roll again.  Repeat twice more and then roll the pastry until it’s the right shape for your pie tin.
  7. Using the cling film place the pastry in the base of the tin and carefully peel off the film.
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