Steak, Ale and Mushroom Pie...aka St Paddy's Pielets

Well can you believe it? 
I'm going to post a recipe today! 
I know it's been quite some time since I did that...but this recipe was such a winner, that I thought you might like to see it too. 
I was going to try and post it over the weekend because it was perfect for St Patrick's Day, but I was in such a spin trying to get to a party that I didn't manage it ....(yep such a party animal) but I'm here now.
I thought as we head into autumn here and spring hasn't sprung everywhere out there yet, that this recipe is so good to not only be a tasty heart warming meal, but also a really good idea for entertaining. 
It is also brilliant for freezing too, you can either produce little pielets or a family size pie or even just a casserole accompanied with tatties (potatoes) and veggies.
I also have to confess that because I was in a tizzy to get to my St Paddy's Day celebrations, I forgot to take a photo of the final presentation platter. I know...what am I like! 

Before I start I have to tell you that I made a huge casserole dish full and there's still plenty left. 
We managed to take 30 pielets along to the party but a few inevitably went missing in the cooling process...well the boys insisted that they should be tested before they made an entrance into the party. ;D
I thought pielets would be the best for easy entertaining. Everyone being able to indulge with the minimum of fuss or hostess participation.  
But I've still got four seperate containers in the freezer that I'll be able to produce at any although the cooking time is rather long initially, it really is worth the time and effort. 
Not wishing to blow my own trumpet...oh well okay then...everyone raved about them! Thumbs up
So here is the recipe for Steak, Ale and Mushroom Pielets.

For the Beef Mixture (3 hours cooking time or longer for tender beef)
  • small handful dried porcini mushrooms (about 10g) - not essential but definitely very tasty
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg braising steak (buy this as a whole piece and cut it into large chunks yourself or ask your butcher)
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml dark ale (I used Guinness but any dark ale will do)
  • 2 beef stock cubes mixed with 400ml boiling water ~ or beef stock liquid
  • small bunch each thyme, bay leaf and parsley, tied together (can be seperate but remember to remove once cooked.
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons, or chopped rashers
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms , halved
  • A splash of Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 tbsp of Tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
(If you need a conversion table then take a look into my sidebar at the bottom) 

Right lets get started....

If you're using the porcini, cover them in boiling water for 20 mins, then squeeze out...put them aside for now, but keep the soaking liquid. This is full of flavour but remember not to empty all of the liquid into the beef mixture later. Discard any grainy bits from the bottom of the soaking dish. 

Next heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas mark 3.
Place beef into a large plastic bag with flour, salt and pepper. Coat every piece of beef with the flour. 

Heat half the oil in a large heavy bottomed casserole dish, brown the meat really well in batches, then set aside. (This is a little painstaking but so worth the time and effort). 
Add the onions and carrots to the pan, adding a drizzle more oil, then cook on a low heat for 5 mins until coloured. 

There will be lots of tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan at this stage, but we'll not let them go to waste.
Add the soaked porcini mushrooms, sizzle for 1 min more, then scatter over the sugar and flour, stirring until the flour turns brown. Tip the meat and any juices back into the pan and give it all a good stir. 
Pour over the ale, stock and porcini soaking liquid, don't forget to discard the last few drops. The beautiful tasty bits from the bottom of the pan will come away and add to the flavour of the beef mix.

Add the Worcester sauce and tomato paste.
Season stew with salt and pepper to taste, tuck in the herbs and bring everything to a simmer. 
Cover with a lid and place in the oven for about 2/3 hrs, until the meat is really tender. (I left mine in for 4 hours...the beef was just like butter which is perfect for pielets. You really don't want a large chunk in the little pies).

While the stew is cooking, heat a drop more oil in a frying pan and sizzle the bacon for 3 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for 4 mins until golden. 
Remove from the heat and, when the stew is cooked, stir them through. 
Leave everything to cool completely.
As I mentioned you can also freeze the mixture for up to 3 months and defrost when needed. How good is that? The following photo doesn't really do justice to the delicious mixture...for a start its cold, so therefore doesn't look appetizing....but it me!
I used my Grandmothers mince pie trays for the pielets which worked brilliantly. Perfect for bite size pies.

For the Pastry
  • 650g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 250g lard or cold butter (or half of each), diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk , beaten, to glaze 
  • Or you could use a frozen packet of puff pastry...but depending on how many or what size of pie you are baking will determine if you need one or two packets of pastry.

You can make the pastry up to 2 days before you want to assemble the pie. 
Crumble the flour and lard, or butter, together with a generous pinch of sea salt until completely combined, then add up to 200ml ice-cold water to make a soft dough. 
This can be done in a food processor if you want. Knead the pastry, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hr. The pastry can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge or frozen for up to a month. 

If you are making pielets then grease the tray with butter and sprinkle flour over to prevent sticking. 
Roll out the pastry and using pastry cutters (large for the bases and medium for the tops) then place the bases in the tray. Spoon a small amount of beef mixture into the centre.
Brush around the pastry tops with a little egg yolk, so that they will stick to the bases. 
Gently press together the top to the bottoms. 
Place a small hole in the centre of the pielet, to allow the steam to escape and brush with egg yolk to obtain that golden, crisp, delicious look! 

If you want to bake a large single pie....
Then heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and place a flat baking tray in the oven.
Heavily grease a 24-28cm pie dish and dust well with flour. 
Cut a third off the pastry and set aside. 
Roll out the pastry to a thick-ish round that will easily line the pie dish with an overhang, then line the tin. 
Add the beef to the dish using a slotted spoon so some gravy is left in the container, as you don't want too much sauce in the pie. 
You want the filling to be slightly higher than the rim of the dish. If you have a bit too much, set it aside.  
Roll out the remaining pastry to a thick round big enough to cover the dish. 
Brush the edges of the pastry in the dish with egg yolk, then cover with the pastry lid. 
Trim the edges, crimp the pastry, then re-roll your trimmings to make a decoration, if you like.
Brush the top heavily with egg. Make a few little slits in the centre of the pie, place on the hot baking tray, then bake for 40 mins until golden. 
Leave the pie to rest for 10 mins while you heat up the gravy left in the container. 
Serve the pie at the table with a jug of gravy and a big pile of something green and leafy.  

So here are my pielets....before putting on their party clothes (ie dressed on the platter)

It really is worth the effort to make these little beauties...I promise! 

Oh my...I'm so hungry now! 
It's a good job it's time for dinner. 
See you again soon I hope and don't forget to let me know if you try this recipe. 
I'd love to hear from you...