Monday, 26 May 2014

Steak and Doombar Ale Pie with Creamy Mash

Steak and Doombar Ale Pie with Creamy Mash

The best steak and ale pie I can remember is the one I had in a pub on the banks of the Trent somewhere in  Nottinghamshire. My friends and I had just finished our finals and my then girlfriend had driven up to my uni to see me. Spotting her car (something none of us had) someone had the bright idea that we should all go water skiing in a nearby reservoir. When it was put to her, she said that she didn't feel up to water skiing as she was not feeling well. So I did the decent thing and borrowed her car and took my mates to the reservoir, leaving her on her own in the flat to recover (can't go around letting people down can I). Anyway, we found this pub on the way back and their steak and ale pie was fantastic. You could actually taste what sort of ale it was made out of. And the meat just melted in your mouth. As ever this is my take on it (using a Cornish rather than a Nottinghamshire Ale):


800g of cubed braising steak
A knuckle of oxtail on the bone
Handful of thyme
plain four
1/2 pint of good nutty ale (Sharp's Doombar is my first choice)
2 beef stock cubes diluted in 300ml of boiling water
100g peas
2 large carrots, finely sliced
1 large onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
100g of mushrooms, diced
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
Puff pastry for your lid (I do know a recipe but the stuff you buy in supermarkets is one cheat that does not compromise on taste)
and egg for the wash.
Optional addition: 200g of mature, blue stilton cheese

For the Creamy Mash:

1kg of floury potatoes (maris piper, desiree or Roosters)
25g of butter
4 tablespoons of creme fraiche
250ml full fat milk
Salt and pepper


In a bowl, pour in some flour and infuse it with chopped thyme, salt and pepper. Roll your diced steak in it, to coat the meat. Then, in a pot melt a knob of butter in a tablespoon full of vegetable oil and gently fry the onions, carrots and garlic. When golden, add your beef (including the oxtail on the bone) and stir over a low heat until browned on all sides. Now gradually add all the stock and about 3/4 of the beer, just a bit at a time, and stir in as you do so. Turn the heat up so the mixture starts to bubble. Keep stirring so it does not stick. You should end up with a fairly thick gravy. You do not need it to cover all the mixture as once you start cooking, the fat from the meat will render and make more liquid. Add your peas and mushrooms. Now turn the heat down low, put a lid over the pie filling and leave it to slow cook for about 2 hours. Keep stirring it every 20 minutes or so, so it does not stick.
Now in an ideal world. Once this mixture has had 2 hours slow simmering, you leave it to cool on the hob. Once cool enough, put the whole lot in the fridge over night, then come back to the next stage of this recipe, the next day. If you dont have that luxury of time, you can of course progress straight to the next stage.
For the final stage, roll out a sheet of puff pastry. Enough to cover what ever container you are going to use to cook your pie in (traditionally a pie dish). Pour your filling into the dish, then pour in the ale you have left from your 1/2 pint (important it goes in at the end to bring out the beery taste that otherwise gets cooked away).  Season with salt and what seems like, too much black pepper. Pull the meat off the bone of the oxtail and disguard the bone. Give the whole lot a good stir.Then lay the puff pastry cover over the top, crimping around the edges with your fingers to make a crust. Cut holes or a cross in the top to let steam escape while it is baking, and brush the top with a beaten egg to create a nice, golden glaze when the pie is cooked. Then put your pie into an over pre-heated to 180 degrees centigrade for 40 minutes (or until the pie is golden).

While you pie is baking, time to get onto the mash. Peel and slice your potatoes. cook for 25 minutes or until you can easily push a fork through your potatoes. Drain, mash, stir in your butter, cream and milk. Then whisk until pureed. Serve up your pie and creamy mash with seasonal veg. And drink the rest of the Doombar while you enjoy it.

If you want to add an extra element of "Wallop" to it, while the pie filling is still warming on the stove (ie before you put pastry over it) crumble up 200g of mature, blue stilton cheese and stir it into the filling until it is smooth and dissolved.

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