STEAK AND MUSHROOM PIE

It’s all about the PIE in the U.K.  Whether it’s lunch time, tea time or a take-away, pies are everywhere … hot, warm, or cold … pork pies, steak pies, chicken pies, fish pies, even mixed veg pies.  Eaten at home, at a restaurant, or while walking down the street, the pie can be a complete meal, or just a snack.  From the pie shop to the butchers to the grocery store to Mom’s kitchen, everyone has their favorite and everyone loves their pies!!

We’ve just returned from England and the first thing hubby had to have while we were there was … a pie!  How many did he have during our week’s visit?  Too many to count.  Pies are English comfort food at its best.  I must say I do enjoy an occasional pie myself.  I’ve made them many times before, and have posted the recipe for, my favorite, Chicken and Leek Pie, but today it’s going to be the classic Steak and Mushroom Pie.  So, let’s get going!

I’m topping this pie with a puff pastry crust (yes, from the frozen food department of the grocery store).  You can top your pie with a short-crust if you’d like, or even a cobbler or biscuit topping.  It’s entirely up to you.  Whichever you choose, this is not a difficult pie to make at all.  Perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon.

STEAK AND MUSHROOM PIE
Stove top cooking for approximately 1-1/2 hours.  Preheated oven 400°F.  Bakes for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.  Serves 4 to 6.

2-1/2 lbs. chuck steak, trimmed and cubed
4 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
2 or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 lg. carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups good beef stock
1 cup stout or ale
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pint button mushrooms, quartered
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

In a large plastic bag, put the flour and 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Shake it about to incorporate.  Then add the cubed, trimmed steak.  Shake the bag to coat the steak evenly.

On the stove, in a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium/high heat.  Add a few pieces at a time of the coated steak to brown.  If you add all the steak at once, the oil temperature will cool down too quickly and the steak will just steam.  Take the seared steak out, put it aside and brown more.  After all the steak has been nicely seared, put the onions and carrots into the pot, reduce the heat a bit and cook til softened – about 5 minutes.

Put the browned steak back into the pot.  Pour in the beef stock (homemade or store bought), the ale (Guiness is perfect) and tomato paste.  Combine well and then add the bay leaves.  Taste to adjust the seasoning – adding salt and pepper as needed.

Cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently for about an hour.  After an hour, add the mushrooms.  Let simmer again for about 15 minutes, leaving the cover off or halfway (depending upon how much liquid is in the pot) and  taste again to adjust the seasoning.  Meanwhile, prepare the crust.  Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured board just a bit.  Don’t roll it too thin.  You want a nice hearty crust.

If you are making one casserole, then nothing else needs to be done – except for cutting a hole in the middle for the steam to escape while baking.  If you are making individual servings, as I did, then cut the pastry for the amount of dishes you are making.  I made six ramekins – so I cut the pastry into six pieces – with a hole in the center of each one.

Preheat the oven now.  From the pot, fill the casserole dish or dishes.  Around the rim of each dish, brush on the beaten egg.  Now fit the pastry crust onto the dish, pressing tightly around the edges.  Trim away any excess pastry.  (Next time, however, I am not going to trim the crust.  I’m going to leave it hanging over the sides – shrinkage does occur  : ).  Brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg.

Place the casserole dish or dishes onto a baking tray – leaking can occur.  Place the tray into the oven at 400° and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is nicely browned.  When it’s browned, it’s ready!  Remove from the oven and eat!

This hearty beef stew with its rich gravy and buttery crust is soooo satisfying … a complete meal in itself.  Serve this pie with a side salad and crusty bread and you have the perfect comfort food for a cold winter’s night.


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Cheese and Onion Pasties

Pasties … Great Britain’s most popular ‘grab and go’ food.  Chock full of fillings, pasties or hand pies are available in bakeries, sandwich shops, convenience stores, grocery stores, food trucks and carts … just about everywhere.  Counted among one of hubby’s top favs is the “Cheese and Onion Pasty“.  For the history and origins of the “pasty”, please check out my “CORNISH PASTIES” page.

Some pasties are made with a short crust (basically a pie crust dough), and others are made using a puff pastry dough.  The difference between the two is puff pastry is lighter and flakier and has a much higher ratio of butter to flour.  As delicious as it is, it can be quite challenging to make.  Short crust pastry is very easy to make especially if you have a food processor.  I’ve used a short crust many times before, but for Cheese and Onion Pasties I’ve decided to use something even easier than short crust pastry … pre-made puff pastry from the grocery store.

If you decide to make these (and, yes I recommend you try them), when you read the ingredients you’ll notice there are potatoes.  Yes, potatoes are part of the filling, but for some reason, they are never called “Cheese, Onion and Potato Pasties“.  The potato adds just enough bulk to the filling so that the cheese doesn’t just melt right out.  These are very easy to make, but will take about 40 minutes to prepare.  Well worth the effort.

CHEESE AND ONION PASTIES  
Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes.  Makes 6 (or more)

1 lb. puff pastry sheet (thawed)
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
6 oz. good quality aged cheddar cheese, grated
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper

This is a great recipe if you happen to have leftover boiled potatoes.

If not, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water and cook til tender (about 10 to 12 minutes).  Drain and set aside.

In a saute pan, melt the butter and add the diced onion.

Saute over medium heat until transparent (also about 10 to 12 minutes) but not browned.


In a large bowl, combine the cooked, diced potatoes with the cooked, cooled onions, parsley and the grated cheddar cheese.

Don’t skimp and buy low-quality cheese.  Good, aged, cheddar is what you want.

Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well, but lightly.  You don’t want mashed potatoes.

On a lightly floured board, roll the sheet of puff pastry out until its about 10″ x 12″.  You don’t want the pastry too thin or the filling will pop through.

Cut the pastry into six long, evenly sized rectangles.

If you’d rather make circles, or any other shape, feel free. There are no rules.  Just be sure to place the filling on one half of the pastry.

Divide the mixture evenly among the six pastries, placing the filling on one end only.

Brush the edges with the beaten egg.  Fold the other end of the pastry over the top and seal the edges securely.

Either press the edges together with your fingers or crimp with a fork.


Place the six pasties on a parchment lined baking pan (or two pans, as I did).

Brush the tops with the egg wash.  Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pasties are puffed up, crisp and golden brown.

Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Serve these hearty hand pies hot out of the oven for a delicious lunch, or pack them away to be eaten later.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.  Hearty, cheesy and delicious!

Cheese and Onion Pasties

I think to be enjoyed at their best, they should be served warm in all their cheesey gooeyness.
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Chicken and Leek Pie

This classic Welsh “pie” is served on March 1st which is St. David’s Day.  St. David’s Day celebrates Wales’ patron saint with celebrations all across the U.K.  Born in the 6th century, Fr. David was heavily involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries.  As a strong leader and with a strict adherence to Christian beliefs, his loyal followers grew.  Fr. David was made Archbishop while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and was consecrated a saint by Pope Callistus in 1120.  With more than 50 churches named after him, and the largest Cathedral in Wales, there is no doubt as to this man’s popularity.

I’m not sure why this particular dish is associated with St. David’s Day … could be because two of the key ingredients are practically national symbols of Wales (leeks and Caerphilly cheese). What I do know, however, is this is a fantastic family dish … and perfect for to be served on March 1st or any other day!

I have to admit I did not have Caerphilly cheese (and couldn’t find it), so I substituted Cheddar, but I think next time I’m going to use Stilton.  I also added sliced mushrooms for a little earthiness.  It was hearty, rich and delicious!  As they say in Britain, “why not have a go?”.

CHICKEN AND LEEK PIE
Bake at 425° F for 20 minutes … reduce heat to 350° F for 40 minutes.

4 large chicken breasts, or 8 chicken thighs (or any combination), cubed
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups leeks, washed and sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup crumbled Caerphilly cheese (or Feta, or Gouda or Cheddar)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper


Cube the chicken pieces.  In a large plastic bag, add the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Put the chicken cubes into the flour bag and toss til the chicken is completely coated.

Into a large skillet heat the oil and sear the chicken.  Remove the chicken to a plate and add a bit  more olive oil to the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium and saute the leeks til soft (about 5-6 minutes).  Add the garlic.

Put the chicken back into the pan and add the mushrooms.

Turn up the heat and slowly add the chicken stock and the white wine.  Stir well to combine and reduce to thicken.

Then turn the heat to low and add the heavy cream, the mustard and the cheese.  Taste to adjust the seasoning.

Remove from the heat and add the fresh herbs.  Pour everything into a large heat-proof casserole dish.

On a floured board, roll th e puff pastry sheet out just a bit to fit over the top of the dish.  Brush the egg around the top of the dish for the pastry to adhere.

Place the pastry on top and cut slits into the top of the pastry for the steam to escape.  Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.

 Place the casserole onto a baking tray just in case you get seepage.

Pop the tray into a very hot oven 425°F for 20 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.

 

 

 

Serve piping hot with a side salad and glass of wine!  Now sit back and take all the complements!

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References:  Catholics Online, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia.com,