Day Three of the Tour de France takes us from Cambridge to London. In the spirit of many a cold afternoon tucked up in a London Pub I bring you Steak and Ale Pie with Traditional Mushy Peas.
I have done a bit of research for this one and cobbled together a recipe from the best of what I can find. For the pastry I have chosen a traditional hot water pastry from Gourmet Dough. I really enjoy making my own pastry as rule, but this version is something new for me. It is incredibly easy to make, and very easy to roll out and use. You don’t need to blind bake it either, making it super versatile and perfect for recipes including hot fillings like pies.
Speaking of fillings, the one here is based on a recipe from Recipe Wise. There are loads and loads of recipes floating around, but I could not go past this one which includes British pantry staples including HP sauce and Worcester Sauce and promises to be the makings of a hearty winter warmer. The only tweaks I made to the original recipes were to omit the mushrooms (I love them, husband hates them) and to reduce the amount of beef required from 1.25kg to about 600g (1.25kg just felt a bit excessive for a family meal!).
The mushy peas recipe, by Elaine Lemm calls for the traditional dried marrowfat peas. I could not find those in my supermarket specifically however I was able to source dried green peas (unspecified variety) which had mushy peas written on the pack as a serving suggestion. I stuck to the soaking and bi-carb process in the spirit of tradition, but I have to fess up and tell you that they were absolutely awful with a strong, lingering bi-carb taste. I followed the recipe to the letter, checked and double checked, soaked and double rinsed so I don’t know what the problem was. I love mushy peas, but these were terrible. I’ll pass on the recipe though, hopefully you’ll have more luck than me!
Peas aside, this is a meal that will take you back to that quiet corner of the pub, with a pint to hand, hanging baskets at the window and the bustle of the street outside …enjoy!
For the pastry:
- 500 g flour
- 200 ml water
- 120 g butter
- 70 g lard
- 1 level teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 600g of beef chuck or braising steak
- 40g plain flour
- 50g butter, diced
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 250g mushrooms, chopped or quartered
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 330ml of a Newcastle Brown Ale (or stout)
- 300ml of Beef Stock
- 2 bay leaves
- Leaves from a few sprigs of Thyme
- Handful of chopped flatleaf parsley
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tbsp HP Brown sauce
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
For the Mushy Peas
- 225g dried marrowfat peas
- 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- Salt and pepper
How to do it
If you want the peas, you need to start the day before by soaking the dried peas in a large, non reactive bowl. Firstly weigh out your peas and pick them over to remove any discoloured peas and any foreign matter. Then place the peas in the bowl and cover them with 300mls boiling water and bicarbonate of soda. Remember to give the peas a good stir to make sure that the bi-carb is dissolved). Soak for a minimum of 12 hours.
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celsius. Dice the beef into about 2.5cm cubes and chop the onion and garlic. The recipe asks you to place the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and add your diced beef to coat. I find it is easier just to add the flour and seasonings to bag with the meat and shake to coat, but using the plate did seem a more caring approach (if somewhat messier!)
Add half the butter and half the oil to a large heavy based saucepan or oven/hob safe casserole dish over a medium to high heat (I actually used a tagine). Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms (if you are using them) and sauté until softened and slightly golden in colour.
Take the onion and garlic out of the saucepan and reserve. Add the remaining butter and oil and then fry off the beef in small batches (do not add it all at once or it will just stew in the cooking juices and toughen). Remove each batch from the saucepan once browned and add to the reserved onion and garlic.
When you are done with the beef, take out the last few pieces and deglaze the pan by pouring in a little of the beer and scraping down the sides and bottom of the pan to loosen and caramelised bits left from the browning process.
Add the beef, onions and garlic back to the pan and pour in rest of the beer, along with the stock and sauces and tomato paste. Then add the bay leaves, the parsley, and thyme, season with salt and pepper and cover with the lid. Then take the casserole off the stove top and place in the oven to cook for a long slow 2-3 hours.
Meanwhile, make the pastry…
Place the butter, lard and water into a small saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. While you are waiting for the fats to melt, measure out 500g of plain flour and make a well in the centre.
When the butter and lard have melted, tip this mixture carefully into the flour and stir to combine using a wooden spoon. At this point you need to leave the pastry in the bowl and cover with a clean tea-towel to cool for an hour or so. Once cool to the touch, take it out and use your fingers tp press it out into a rectangular shape.
Then you need to fold your pastry in thirds. Bring one side up by taking one side of the dough into the centre and pressing down with your fingers. Then lift up the other side and fold it in over the first one. Push it out into a rectangular shape again, and fold in thirds the same way. Then wrap your dough in cling wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once rested, sprinkle a little flour on the bench and roll out your pastry to about 3-5mm thick. Using your pie dishes or ramekins as a guide, cut out your pastry retaining enough to make pastry lids for your pies. Spray your pie dishes with non-stick spray and line with the pastry.
When your pie filling is cooked, tender to the bite and so tasty you can smell the aroma from down the street, take your filling and generously fill up the pastry lined pie dishes (and crank the oven up to 200 degrees celsius). Brush the outer edge with egg and firmly stick down the pastry lid before punching a steam hole in the top of the pie with a knife.
Place the pies in the hot oven for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden.
Back to the peas…
Drain and rinse the peas well under cold water. Return the peas to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil and then reduce it to a simmer or about 30 minutes or until the peas are mushy! Season with salt and pepper.
To serve …
Place a generous scoop of mushy peas on the base of a plate. Carefully remove your pie from the pie dish and place on top of the peas. If you like, add gravy and hot chips and enjoy!