When I need a rush of grease and carbs, nothing screams louder than British pub food. My favorite pub dish is Steak and Ale Pie.
Ironically, I discovered the dish as I was leaving England last summer. I arrived at Gatwick airport with some time to spare, so I headed to a fast-casual “pub-style” restaurant. I decided to break from my routine “fish-and-chips” (usually a wise choice, but one that was starting to become tiresome), and the “steak-and ale pie” was a featured item.
You know how they say terminal food can never quite match that elsewhere? While, this came close. I recall the crust being a tad rubbery, but the steak filling’s rich umami flavor–a tad smokey and a tad sweet–amazed me.
“I have to make this someday!” I thought to myself.
I had my first opportunity in November. I had collected pie crust ingredients before Thanksgiving but ended up buying pies for the holiday. So I resolved to make a savory pie the following weekend.
My steak-and-ale pie was inspired by an Allrecipes recipe I found online (using SeriousEat’s Old-fashioned Flaky Pie Dough). However, I made a few tweaks in the ingredients (e.g. substituting soy sauce and sherry for Worcestershire sauce) and process. The stew flavors came out even better than I had experienced in the pub, topped off by the melt-in-my-mouth crust, though the meat (generically-labeled “stew meat” from the supermarket) was tough.
This past Sunday, I gave the pie a second try. I used cut-to-order chuck meat and Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout for the beer.
I think I might have perfected this. Recipe below.
- Serious Eats’ Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough Recipe, courtesy of Stella Parks. Omit the sugar. You about throw in about a teaspoon of cheddar cheese, if you’d like, to enrich the flavor.
- Meats and Veggies
- 2 pounds of Chuck Meat, diced
- About 1 cup of Diced Onion (1/2 to 3/4 of a large Onion)
- One large clove of Garlic, minced
- 3/4 to 1 cup sliced Mushrooms
- 1/4 Cup unseasoned Tomato Sauce or Diced Tomato (approx a whole average tomato)
- Diced Carrots (optional)
- Diced Potatoes (optional)
- Seasonings and Stock
- Make the Pie Crust following instructions in the linked recipe. When done mixing and kneading, divide the dough into two portions and refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Cube the beef and coat in flour. In a large pot, heat oil and drop in beef chunks. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until browned. Remove the beef from the pot, leaving fat and drippings at the bottom.
- Heat one tablespoon of butter in the pot in which you cooked the beef. When sizzling, drop in the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes (until translucent) and then add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the beer. Stir for 2 minutes so that the beer deglazes the pan (dilutes the beef drippings to absorb their flavor). Then add the remaining cup of beer, soy sauce and sherry.
- Re-introduce the beef, along with the thyme, pepper and salt. Then pour in the beef broth. Cover the pot and let simmer for an hour and a half (beef should be very tender when done).
- While the beef is simmering, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out the two portions of pie dough. Roll out one portion with a rolling pin (making sure the dough stays slightly below room temperature-between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit*). Grease the bottom of a 10-inch pie pan. Line the pan with the rolled-out portion of dough and weigh down with dried beans. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Roll out the second portion of dough. Take the bottom pie crust out of the onion and remove the dried beans. Spoon the stewed beef over the partially-baked pie crust. When done, cover up the stew with the second dough portion. Join the top and bottom dough portions at the edges and crimp with a fork.
- Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Take pie out of the oven (dough should be crisp) and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*You can ensure the pie dough remains at a cooler temperature than the room by refrigerating the rolling pin or placing a bag of ice cubes on the rolling surface.