steak and ale pie

February 28, 2011

Steak and Ale Pie 650

This is a British pub classic and a brilliant winter warmer that you’ve got to try…tonight.

When Dan and I were still just boyfriend and girlfriend he used to visit me in Sheffield, in the north of England where I was at university while he was studying abroad in Spain. Heady days, I tell you what.

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On one of those trips we drove out to Castleton, a village near Sheffield in the Peak District. Castleton could definitely win a Most Quaint English Village award. It’s been around since 1198 and has a Norman castle, stunning scenery, and some pretty awesome caves. Plus it has some stellar pubs. Mm hm, I have my priorities straight.

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That afternoon, me and Dan had gone on a long, chilly walk. We stumbled across a flock of sheep and being the cool kids that we are thought it would be funny to chase them, trying to get photographs. I, of course, promptly slipped in the mud and ended up on my arse feeling pretty stupid, while Dan oh-so-kindly took photos of me before helping me up. And to think I married him.

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Anyway, back to pubs and pie. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn in Castleton serves up a stonking good steak and ale pie. I took Dan there, I’ve taken my Mum there…they don’t mess around when it comes to a good pie and that’s what I tried to emulate here.

Browned steak, mushrooms, and carrots cooked in ale for a good couple of hours and topped with crispy, buttery puffed pastry.

We ate this after watching our beloved football team Arsenal go out of the Carling Cup Final. Commiseration pie, if you will. I’m sorry, did I lose you? Just know that this is a brilliant winter warmer, and if you use ready-made puffed pastry like I did, it’s a cinch to throw together.

The biggest thing with these kind of pies is getting the pastry/meat ratio right. Next time I try it I think it would be fun to do individual ramekins – like they serve in pubs – to control the amount of pastry everyone gets. Yum.

Steak and Ale Pie
serves four

Ingredients

  • 2lb braising steak or stewing beef, diced into small cubes
  • 1oz flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for dusting
  • 3½oz butter
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 5½oz button mushrooms
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 14fl oz good-quality English ale (I found Hobgoblin at our local liquor store)
  • 17fl oz beef stock
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole egg beaten
  • 10½oz ready-made rolled puff pastry

Directions

  1. Place the flour in a medium-sized bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Roll the beef in the flour to coat.
  2. Place a large lidded pan on the hob.
  3. Heat half the butter in the pan and add the meat. Sear all over until golden brown.
  4. Add the vegetables and herbs, then pour in the ale and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and gently simmer on the stove for 1½ hours.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and discard. The mixture should have thickened up and reduced quite a bit. If yours is still really liquidy then I recommend adding some corn starch (mixed with cold water first) to thicken it up quickly.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  7. Once cooked, season the stew with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Add the remaining butter and tip into an ovenproof serving dish or pie dish. Brush the edge of the dish with the beaten egg.
  8. Roll out the pastry and cover the pie. Scrunch the pastry round the edge of the dish and trim around the edge, leaving a little overhanging. Pinch the edges of the dish so that the pastry will stick to it and trim off any remaining pieces of pastry from around the edge.
  9. Brush the pastry top thoroughly with beaten egg and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown on top and serve immediately.

Note: a couple of readers have noted that they seemed to end up with a disproportionate amount of liquid in their pie so you may want to adjust accordingly. This hasn’t been a problem for me but if you’re worried about this I would recommend reducing the amount of beer and stock you begin with.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kacy February 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

Gosh that looks positively fantastic! And makes me want to travel to England!

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minneville February 28, 2011 at 10:19 am

Steak and vegetables simmered in ale! must taste special!

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sofia February 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

what a wonderfully hearty dish to keep you warm amidst the chilly-looking english countryside! i enjoyed reading about this pie at the cheese inn (heh heh), and of course the early days of courtship. lovely. thank you for a nice monday blog-reading start! :)

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emily (a nutritionist eats) February 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I have to make this for my honey! He would LOVE this!

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Angharad March 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I made it for me, my husband and our friend (also a boy) and they were both pretty into it (to say the least!).

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Amanda March 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Oh my goodness gracious. You’re right- I need to make this, ASAP. You’ve got me drooling already!

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rebecca March 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

so enjoy your blog reminds me of home, my hubby worked in Sheffield for a while I used to visit from Aberdeen where I studied

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Angharad March 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Thanks Rebecca! So sweet of you. Glad I can remind you of home every now and then.

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Carol October 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I live in Palo Alto, California and used to be able to get kidney in almost any supermarket, then gradually it got more difficult. We love a good steak and kidney pie (homemade of course) and steak and mushroom pie just isn’t the same. I decided to try and find a good steak and ale pie recipe and this looks wonderful. Thanks.

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Smiley January 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Finally made this past weekend – what took me so long?? I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be more like a thick gravy when it was done? Mine was rather soupy, so I’ll do a little less liquid next time. But trust me, there will be a next time!! Delish ;-)

Thanks as always for sharing!

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Angharad January 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

Ooh glad you tried it! If the liquid hasn’t reduced to the thickness you’d like, I would either let it keep going a while longer or add some corn starch as a thickener. Or you could totally add less liquid too!

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winton January 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Great recipe, going to enjoy in about 1 hour, according to my lovely wife of english decent a proper bitter beer is the secret. Thank You for your recipe

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angelica March 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Hi
thanks a lot for your fantastic and simple recipe
It’ not true Italian people eats only pasta: I love your ale pie (all the possible versions) and if I could I would change my spaghetti with your pie!
I’ll try it and I will let you know :-)

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Amy March 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! My husband is British and for his birthday dinner (yesterday) he requested Steak & Ale pie. Your recipe was perfect for the occasion and delicious! I served it with roasted parsnips and potatoes and also made your brussel sprout w/ fig & bacon side-dish. Yum!

As other posters mentioned, it did seem to make too much liquid, I simmered for 2 hours and then used cornflour/starch to thicken, but am not complaning as we’ll use the extra liquid as a stew base for another meal.

I had leftovers today for lunch and I think this is maybe even better the next day (if that’s possible!) We’ll definitely be having this again.

Thank you!

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Angharad March 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Hi Amy, I’m so glad you liked the pie! You are right about the liquid and I might add a note to the recipe adjusting that since a couple of people have noted the same experience. Thanks for the feedback and happy birthday to your husband!

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Kate September 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Making this tonight! I am living in Virginia – originally from Wilmslow! Been to the Cheshire Cheese Inn many times as my brother used to live in Sheffield and we would meet there. Made me feel homesick! Had a fantastic steak and ale pie in Spalding and this one sounds great. Thanks for the recipe.

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John F October 1, 2012 at 9:49 am

Loved it. Tried it this weekend and posted a link to it on my blog.
Thanks.

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Danielle Harmon November 3, 2012 at 3:29 am

Thank you for posting this! Lived in England for 7 years with the US Air Force. Steak and Ale pie is one of my absolute favorites and this is such an uninvolved recipe! Absolutely wonderful! I made it tonight and served it with mash and mushy peas! Thought I was back in England and that made me so happy!

Blessings to you!

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fireflyeyes March 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

So glad I found this – been looking for a recipe for steak and ale pie that doesn’t involve tomato paste! I’m trying this tonight!

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MikeM December 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

I went to an event that required you bring a pie and I wanted to do savory. This was the ticket! Because of the moisture noted above, I let the meat combination simmer with the lid off for the first hour. The consistency was very good and the pie was a hit. I ended up using five sprigs of thyme and three cloves of garlic to make their flavors (flavours?) more bold. Very easy to make.

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