I was recently asked to write a recipe for the South East London Journal, a free local magazine. They’re only their fourth issue in, but already its becoming a must read if you live in the SE, not only does it have cracking content, the design and layout is beautiful. Anyone who knows me well can confirm my passion for all things wrapped in pastry and so they asked me to pull together an Autumnal pie. In keeping with the issues beer theme, I shared my take on the Classic Steak and Ale Pie.
For me food is at its best this time of year, we’re no longer after that light healthy summer dish, we need more from our food, it has to be wholesome, hearty and comforting to counteract that winter chill. The markets are packed with the Autumnal harvest, and what better way to enjoy it than piling it all into a pie, be it shortcrust, puff or hot water crust, pastry is always a winner. Pearl Barley gives this recipe that heavy warmth and the Nutmeg makes it feel slightly festive. Make sure you choose well marbled beef packed full of flavour, and be fussy when it comes to choosing your Ale. I’d suggest serving this with Mustard mash and fresh steamed greens.
200g smoked bacon, diced into lardons
800g Beef Skirt, diced to 2.5cm chunks
250g Chestnut Mushrooms, quartered
4 Medium Shallots, quartered
100g Pearl Barley
750ml double strength beef stock (use two stock cubes)
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp Thyme
1 block of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
You will need a flameproof casserole and a 1.2litre pie dish (or two smaller ones like I did)
1. Preheat your oven at 150°C/300°F/2GM
2. Thoroughly rinse your pearl barley, and place in a saucepan to cook, following the packet instructions, which usually recommend simmering for 40-50 minutes. Once cooked, rinse, drain and set aside to add to the filling later.
3. Dice the streaky bacon into lardons and place them in a cold flameproof casserole over a medium heat, fry and stir frequently. Once golden remove to a large plate, leaving behind the melted fat.
4. Add the beef to the casserole, a few chunks at a time, and fry until browned on all sides, adding a dash of oil if needed. Once each portion is done, remove to the plate, again retaining all the melted fat. Repeat until all the beef has been browned. Add the quartered Shallots, again removing to the plate once browned.
5. Reducing the heat sift the flour into the casserole, and mix until combined. Now add your Ale, the double strength beef stock and the mushrooms. Bring to the boil whilst stirring and then return the bacon, beef and shallots back to the casserole.
6. Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, whole peppercorns, nutmeg and tomato puree to the casserole, and mix until combined.
7. Removing the casserole from the heat, add the pearl barley. Replacing the lid on the casserole, move to the preheated oven for 1½ – 2 hours, until the meat is beautifully tender.
8. Remove the bay leaves from the casserole and season to taste. Pour the mixture into your pie dish and allow it to cool completely.
9. Roll out your block of puff pastry on a floured work surface, and cut out the lid for your pie. Make sure this is at least an inch more on all sides than your pie dish
10. Set aside the lid, and make sure you leave your excess trimmings flat and rolled out, basically do not scrunch them into a ball.
11. Brush the rim of your pie dish, with the beaten egg, and use 1-2inch strips of the trimmings to form a pastry frame around the rim. Brush the frame with more beaten egg, and place your pastry lid on top, pressing the edges down to seal firmly.
12. Use a knife to trim back the excess and knock up the edges of the pastry, and then if you wish, use the excess pastry trimmings to decorate the top. Brush the top of your pie with beaten egg to glaze, and place in the preheated oven.
13. Bake for 15 minutes at 200°C/400°F/6GM and then reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/4GM for a further 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden crisp and puffed. Serve with mustard mash and some steamed greens