Sunday, 23 October 2011

Homemade Steak and Ale Pie with Chips and Brussels Sprouts

Steak and ale pie makes for a delicious, warming meal on a cold winter's night but can equally be enjoyed at any time of year. The variety of different ales which most people will have access to means that the recipe can be varied considerably in taste, simply by switching ales until you find the one that you most prefer. Do, however, make the effort to use a quality, real ale, as run of the mill, supermarket beers are not going to give this dish the intensity of flavour it deserves. Check what supermarkets in your area offer in this respect but also take a look at any micro-breweries which may exist in your geographical area. The real ale used in this particular pie was Tibbie Shiels Ale, made by Broughton Ales, a small brewery in the Scottish Borders. A pie of this size will serve anything from two to four people, depending largely upon the appetite of the diners.


1 lb stewing beef steak
1/2 lb puff pastry
1 large white onion
1 large carrot
1 pint of real ale
2 pints of fresh beef stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Beaten egg for glazing

1 large baking potato per person
Brussels sprouts (quantity as desired)
Pinch of dried nutmeg


Put the olive oil in to a large pot and on to a gentle heat. Add the beef and stir for two to three minutes until browned and sealed. Peel and finely slice the onion and add it to the beef. Season with salt, black pepper, the dried thyme and cook the onion for a few minutes until it glistens and begins to turn transluscent. Add the stock, followed by the beer and turn the heat up until the liquid begins to simmer. Note that it may well seem like you have an excessive amount of liquid at this stage but that will reduce considerably. Reduce the heat again and simmer very gently for two hours.

While the beef is simmering, you can use some of the time to start preparing your chips. Peel the potatoes and slice and chop in to chips shapes. Add to a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes, drain and submerge in cold water for five more minutes. Drain again and lay them in a large plastic dish with a lid. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Pat the chips dry in a clean tea towel and deep fry at 300F/150C for five minutes. Transfer to a plate laid with kitchen paper, cover and allow to cool. Return them to the dried plastic dish and the refrigerator for a further half hour minimum.

When the beef and stock has simmered for a couple of hours, you will see the liquid has been significantly reduced. Top, tail and scrape the carrot and slice it in to quarter inch discs. Add it to the pot and simmer for a further twenty minutes before turning off the heat, covering the pot and leaving the mix to cool. This is very important, as if you try to put pastry on top of hot meat and gravy, the steam will spoil the pastry before it has a chance to cook, causing it to collapse and be soggy.

When the meat is cool (after about an hour), put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C. Spoon the meat and carrot in to a 10" by 7" pie dish with a slotted spoon. Pour in enough gravy to almost cover the meat.

Roll out the pastry on a clean, lightly floured surface, large enough that it covers the pie dish with a slight overhang all around. Carefully lay it on top and fold and crimp it in place around the edges and under the rim of the dish.

It is not essential but you may wish to sit your pie on a roasting tray, to catch any inadvertent drips. Glaze it with the beaten egg and make a cross or couple of slits in the centre to serve as a steam vent. Put the pie in to the oven for thirty-five to forty minutes, until the pastry is beautifully risen and golden.

It is a good idea to let the steak and ale pie rest for a few minutes when you take it out of the oven, prior to service. This time can be used to prepare the Brussels sprouts and complete the preparation of the chips. Remove any loose or damaged leaves from the sprouts and place them in simmering, salted water for ten minutes. Drain and return to the empty pot with a little butter and nutmeg. Gently swirl them around to evenly coat.

When the sprouts are in the water, the chips can be fried for the second time at 350F/170C, for six or seven minutes. Drain again on kitchen paper and begin plating your meals.

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