For the pastry
1/2 quantity flaky pastry
Extra flour to dust
For the filling
3 tbsp olive oil
Handful mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary & oregano
1kg beef chuck steak
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 tsp butter, softened and mixed with 2 tsp flour (beurre manie), if needed
Freshly ground black pepper
- For the filling, halve and peel the onion and cut each half into 4 wedges. Place in a medium flameproof casserole or ovenproof pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, cover, ideally with a cartouche, and sweat over a low heat until soft and translucent but not taking on any colour.
- Meanwhile, finely chop enough herb leaves to give you 1–2 tablespoons and set aside. Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the beef and cut it into 2–3 cm cubes.
- Heat the oven to 150°C.
- Once the onion is soft, remove it from the pan and set aside. Brown the meat in batches in the pan, using as much of the remaining oil as necessary and deglazing with a little water after each batch.
- Return the onion to the pan and add the Guinness, tomatoes, chopped mixed herbs, bay leaf and some salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Return all the meat to the pan and add a little water if the meat is not covered.
- Cover, transfer to the oven and cook gently for 2–2½ hours, or until the beef is tender. To check, remove a piece of beef; you should be able to cut through it with the side of a fork or spoon.
- Remove from the oven and drain the cooking liquid into a small pan. Discard the bay leaf, then taste and reduce the sauce, if necessary, to a consistency that lightly clings to the meat and a good concentration of flavour. If the sauce needs thickening, use a little beurre manié (the butter and flour mixture).
- Add the beef back to the sauce and transfer to a lipped pie dish, ensuring the filling fills the dish generously. Use a pie funnel if necessary. Leave to cool completely.
- Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 3 mm thick and 3 cm bigger all round than the pie dish. Cut off strips that together will line the lip of the pie dish. Lightly beat the egg with a very small pinch of salt, using a fork, then pass through a sieve into a bowl.
- Press the pastry strips onto the dish lip and brush with a little beaten egg. Carefully lift the pastry rectangle on top and press gently over the lip, to join the edges. Trim off the excess pastry and cut up the sides. Place 2 fingers lightly on the edge of the pastry and draw the back of a cutlery knife between your fingers and upwards, to create a scalloped effect. Make a hole in the centre of the lid to allow steam to escape. Cut out leaves or decorations from the pastry trimmings, if desired, and stick to the pie lid with beaten egg. Glaze the pastry with the beaten egg. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm the pastry. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C.
- Brush the pastry with the beaten egg again. Bake the pie in the top of the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is well risen and golden and the filling is piping hot when tested with a skewer.
Steak and mushroom pie: Add 200 g halved button mushrooms to the sweated onion and sauté for 3–4 minutes to soften. Replace the Guinness and tomatoes with 500 ml brown beef or chicken and veal stock. Add ½ tablespoon chopped thyme in place of the mixed herbs and proceed as for the main recipe.