The sweetness provided by the carrots and the ale bring the perfect balance to this rich beefy pie with strong mushroom back notes.
For the meat, I used Aberdeen Angus, which gave the pie a wonderful beefy richness and a soft texture.
The addition of a small amount Marmite XO shouldn’t upset the Marmite-ophobes. Used as a seasoning, it provides an umami boost, but there isn’t sufficient to be recognisable as Marmite.
I’d suggest you use whatever mushrooms are available. I used a mixture of oyster mushrooms and hedgehogs, both of which retain some texture after a long slow cook. The hedgehogs also provide the slightest hint of bitterness which further helps to satisfy the taste buds.
The 50:50 mixture of lard and butter makes for the lightest and tastiest of pastries that fully deserves equal billing with the rich, delicious filling. But if making pastry isn’t your thing, then simply use ready-made shortcrust.
The recipe is for a single large pie, but the filling makes about 6 individual pies if preferred.
For the filling
3 tbsp Olive oil
600g Braising steak – 3cm cubes
1 large Onion, chopped
2 large Carrots, sliced
2 tbsp Plain flour
200ml Dark ale – Bombardier or Old Peculiar work well
1 Beef stock cube
½ tsp Marmite XO
15g Dried porcini mushrooms
200g Mixed mushrooms – button, oyster, hedgehog – whatever is available
1 Bouquet garni
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry
700g Plain flour
180g Lard, cold, diced
170g Butter, cold, diced
½ tsp Salt
1 Egg yolk beaten with a tablespoon of cold water and a pinch of salt to glaze
Making the Filling
Set the oven to 160°C/Gas 3.
Place a casserole dish on the hob and heat the oil. Fry the beef in batches until browned and set aside.
Fry the onion and carrot until softened then sprinkle on the flour and stir in. Continue to cook for 1 minute.
Return the beef to the casserole, adding 200ml of ale and 200ml of water.
Crumble in the stock cube and add the bouquet garni. Finally the fresh and dried mushrooms. Bring to a simmer.
Place the lid on the casserole and continue to cook in the oven.
Check every 30 minutes or so to make sure the stew isn’t sticking. Add a little ale and water if is it.
Cook for about 2 to 2½ hours, until the meat is tender and the sauce thickened.
If the sauce is looking a little wet, then cook with the lid off for the last 15 to 30 minutes.
Similarly, if the stew looks a little dry before the meat is tender, add a ale and water water.
When cooked, remove from the oven and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside to cool completely, then chill in the fridge until you are ready to assemble your pie.
Making the Pastry
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl.
Add the diced butter and lard. Rub the fat into the flour using your finger tips until the mixture is completely combined and resembles bread crumbs. Add chilled water and cut in using a knife until the pastry comes together. You may need up to about 200ml water.
Gather the pastry into two roughly equal balls, wrap them individually with cling film and chill for at least an hour.
Assembling the Pie
Grease your pie dish with butter and set aside.
Roll one of the pastry balls to about 5mm thickness and line the pie dish.
Place the cold filling in the pie and level.
Brush the rim of the pastry with milk.
Roll the other pastry ball to about 5mm thickness and lay over t he top of the pie.
Trim and crimp the edge of the pie to form a good seal.
Cover the pie with cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Baking the pie
Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7 and place a heavy baking sheet in the over just at mid height.
When the oven is thoroughly hot, brush the pie with a mixture of egg yolk and water and make a small hole in the top to let the steam out. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden. Reduce the heat if it starts to brown too quickly.
Baking individual pies
If making individual pies, reduce the baking time to about 25 minutes.