Winter Warming, Steak And Ale Country Pie
With the festive season behind us and summer still a mere speck on the horizon ahead, we think there is no better way to embrace the frosty weather than by devouring a glorious winter warming country pie! Head Chef Brian Hall, our culinary craftsman, has beautifully prepared a country pie recipe for you which is not only easy to follow, but it’s also truly scrumptious! Keep on reading to see what our gastro pub in Wiltshire has in store for you this season…
History of the pie
Pie-like dishes have been around since the Ancient Egyptians however, the idea of enclosing a filling inside a pastry made from flour and oil actually originated from Ancient Rome. The first published recipe featured a decadent rye dough filled with goats cheese and honey! This is rather fancy for the Ancient Romans!
The pie as we know and love today has its roots in northern Europe. Olive oil was once almost scarce to non existent in the region, so as a substitute, butter and lard were the fats of choice in the harsher colder climes of the north Mediterranean. The use of solid fats created the pastry that could be easily rolled and moulded, and so the pie was born!
To make our pie, follow the method below.
900g Stewing steak
25g flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 onions roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
150g button mushrooms
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp olive oil
2 sticks of celery
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
400ml good quality ale
500ml beef stock
1 egg, beaten for glazing
Salt and pepper
For the rough puff pastry
225/8oz plain flour, plus for rolling out
half of a teaspoon of fine salt
250g /9 oz unsalted butter, cold but not rock hard
150ml/1 quarter pint of ice cold water
1 free range egg, beaten to glaze
For the pastry, sift the flour and the salt into a large mixing bowl, then put into the fridge for a few minutes to chill. (Keeping the flour and bowl cold will help you to get a better result later and create nice separate layers or pastry).
Meanwhile, cut the butter into small cubes. Using a round-bladed knife, stir it into the bowl until each piece is well coated with flour. Pour the water, then working quickly, use the knife to bring everything together to a rough dough.
Gather the dough in the bowl using one hand, then turn it onto a work surface. Squash the dough into a fat, flat sausage, without kneading. Wrap in cling film then chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Lightly flour the work surface and the pastry. Roll out the pastry in one direction until it’s about 1cm thick and three times as it is wide, or about 45x15cm/18x6in. Straighten up the sides using your hands now and again, and try to keep the bottom edges as square as possible.
Fold the bottom third of the pasty up, then the top third down, to make a block about 15x15x cm/6x6in. It doesn’t matter if the pastry isn’t exactly the right size, the important thing is that the corners are square.
Turn the dough so that its open edge is facing to the right, like a book. Press the edges of the pastry together using the rolling pin.
Roll out and fold the pastry again, repeating this four times in all to make a smooth dough with buttery streaks here and there. If the pastry feels greasy at any point, or starts to spring back when you roll, then cover and chill it for 10 minutes before continuing. Chill the finished pastry for an hour, ot ideally over night, before using.
For the filling, mix the beef with the flour and some salt and pepper. An easy way to do this is without making too much of a mess is to put everything into a food bag, seal and shake well.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large heat proof casserole dish, up to medium heat, then add the beef shaking off the excess flour and keeping the chunks well spaced so they fry rather than sweat. Brown for about 10 minutes, until golden brown all over.
Transfer the first batch of meat to the bowl, then ass a splash of ale or water to the pan and scrape up any meaty bits. Tip the liquid into the bowl of meat. Wipe out the pan, then add a tablespoon of oil and brown the second batch of beeth. When the beef is golden-brown transfer it to the bowl and set aside.
Add the final spoon of oil to the pan and heat gently. Add the garlic, onions, celery, tomato puree, bay leaf, balsamic vinegar, and herbs to the pan and fry for a few minutes until softened.
Put the beef back into the pan. Pour the stock and brown ale, if necessary, add a little more stock or hot water to ensure the meat is covered in liquid, (this will prevent the meat from drying out). Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer the stew for about 1-1 ½ hours until the beef is almost tender and the sauce has thickened. Set aside to cool, overnight if possible.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, then add the mushrooms. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then fry over a high heat for 5 minutes, or until golden-brown. Mix the cooled pie filling and add to pie dish.
We hope you enjoyed our recipe, but If you would prefer to leave the cooking and the pot washing to someone else, then why not come along to our gastro pub in Wiltshire?
To experience our chef’s passion for food first-hand, sample dishes from our fabulous menu – all you need to do is reserve your table. We also offer our guests cosy accommodation here at The Bath Arms, so you are most welcome to spend the night with us, waking up in the Wiltshire countryside, before starting your day with a delicious locally sourced breakfast.
To dine at our welcoming gastro pub in Wiltshire reserve your table today.