This pie is a pub staple and a massive favourite. I want to say at the outset that the base of this recipe is from Gordon Ramsay however I have modified it a fair bit to suit our taste. To be honest I reckon that its a really good thing to take recipes and play with them to make them suit yourself. But this one is a winter warmer and even though it requires a few hours of slow cooking boy does it reward. I love food with big chunks in it, done well with each ingredient holding its own in the final dish.
So to begin with let me give you a few tips. First I buy cheap skirt steak, in tact, not the meat that is already chopped up. I do this so that I can cut fairly consistently sized pieces and they can be fairly decent sizes. A word of warning her though because the size of the pieces will vary the cooking time, bigger equals more time. The second tip is to keep it simple. Along with the steak choose one single second ingredient, carrot, mushrooms, I love shallots, the real ones the small French shallots.
- 750g skirt steak. Trim off the fatty bits you just want the meat in this one. Cut them into even sized pieces, I like to make them fairly chunky about 3cm by 3cm.
- 4 tbsp plain flour in a bowl seasoned well with salt and fresh pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp tomato paste, better quality in this dish preferably
- One 440ml can of Guinness
- 100ml of decent beef stock
- 350g shallots, peeled but kept whole. By the way be prepared to enter the seventh circle of hell peeling these things. Put the fan on to blow the onion fumes away from you.
- Four or five sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves. Tear the leaves just a little to increase the cooking surface.
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled but again left whole.
- Pastry for the lid. shortcrust or puff, your choice.
- Into a small prep bowl put the shallots, thyme, bay leaf and garlic.
- In a second large bowl put the seasoned flower and toss the beef pieces to coat them well.
- In a heavy based pot like a Le Chasseur of Benzer heat the olive oil and fry the meat pieces in batches browning them well. If you don’t have one of these pots buy one your life will never be the same again.
- Put all the beef back into the pot and mix in the tomato paste. Stir it well and cook it out for a minute or two.
- Toss in the bowl of other ingredients ie the shallots etc, and then add the Guinness and stock and gently stir to combine.
- Cover the pot and simmer for around 90 minutes. You will need yo check the meat at this time if it inst simply falling apart then continue the simmer. The other piece of kit you should own is a simmer mat. Its a small metal plate that softens the heat.
- Transfer all of the meat and sauce into a pie dish. I use a fantastic not stick one.
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees C while you deal with the pastry lid.
- I like to cut a lid that is about 3cm more than the top of the pie dish. Then I lay it on top and fold the excess in on top and make a sort of little rolled lip, it looks great when it cooks. Note that you dont need to seal it, the lid simply sits on top.
- Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden.
Cut through the pastry lid and serve a scoops of the filling with a piece of the pastry sitting on top on a warm plate. I also like to serve it with mash potato or better still greens like beans, peas or broccoli. You can also use the same filling to make individual pie servings in ramekins or similar.