Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
Steak pie in a more conventional sense is one of the most popular meat dishes prepared and eaten in Scotland. It is traditionally made from beef steak and sausages in a rich gravy and topped with puff pastry. Steak pie of this type could perhaps be deemed to be one of the truths about what Scots eat on a regular if not exactly day to day basis, scorching the myths about compulsive and obsessive haggis consumption.
While that conventional pie is clearly the inspiration here, this steak pie is very different and eliminates the sausages altogether in favour of the sweetness of beetroot and the rich, distinctive flavour of the King of English cheeses, Stilton.
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Prep time: 1 hour 15 min
Cook time: 3 hours 30 min
Ready in: 4 hours 45 min
Yields: Two servings
- 1 pound shin beef or stewing steak, diced to one inch
- Olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 2 pints fresh beef stock
- Baby new potatoes as required/desired for two people
- 2 or 3 small beets (cooked, peeled and cooled but not pickled), quartered
- 2 ounces Stilton cheese, broken in to moderately large pieces
- ½ pound puff pastry
- Beaten egg for glazing
- 4 Savoy cabbage leaves, cored and sliced
- ½ medium white onion, peeled and sliced
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
How to Cook the Steak or Beef for the Pie
Shin of beef is far from being the most popular choice when preparing a steak pie. It is often seen as being tough and consequently unappetising, but when it is cooked properly, long and slow, it is at least every bit as delicious as the finest stewing steak or beef. The fact that it is also considerably less expensive could and should provide all the extra motivation required.
It may be that you buy your beef or steak ready diced. If doing it yourself, use a sharp knife on a chopping board and cut to approximately one inch pieces. Do not cut off the fat—this represents flavour and will render down during the cooking process rather than remain attached to the served meat.
Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil in to a large pot. Add the beef and season with salt, pepper and the dried thyme. Brown and seal the meat over a medium heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon.
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Pour the beef stock in to the pot and bring to as gentle a simmer as possible for two to two and a half hours, until the beef is very tender. Stir occasionally and monitor the liquid level. If absolutely necessary, a little bit of boiling water can be added as required.
Switch off the heat, cover the pot and leave for at least an hour to cool.
How to Make Pan Roasted Potatoes (Stage One)
Wash the potatoes well in cold water—scrubbing if necessary—and put them in to a pot of cold water. Season with salt and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just soft. Drain well and return them to the empty pot to cool completely.
How to Assemble and Cook the Steak, Beetroot and Stilton Pie
Start your oven preheating to 210C/425F/Gas Mark 7.
This pie dish is what is called an ashet and measures ten inches by seven inches. It is around an inch deep. You will need a dish of similar capacity.
Use a slotted spoon to lift the beef or steak from the gravy and spread evenly on the bottom of the dish. Add the chopped beetroot and Stilton as shown. Carefully pour over a little of the cold gravy to approximately half cover the solids.
Roll out the pastry on a clean, dry, flour-dusted surface to a rectangle slightly larger than your pie dish.
Very often, some of the pastry off-cuts will be used around the edges of the dish to help secure the main pastry and improve final presentation of the steak pie. There are two reasons why that was not done here and the first is that it makes the pastry more difficult to cut in even portions after it is cooked. It tends to stick to the edges of the dish and can break when you attempt to lift it free. The second is even more practical in that it makes the dish considerably more difficult to later wash...
Lift the rolled pastry on top of the dish and carefully trim around the edges with slashing movements of a large, sharp knife.
Crimp the pastry around the edges with your thumb and forefinger. This helps stop it shrinking too much. Glaze the pastry all over with beaten egg and cut a steam vent in the centre. Lift on to a roasting tray to help contain any potential spills and put it in to the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden.
You will see when the pie comes out of the oven that the pastry has shrunk and some may think the pie looks less attractive than it would have had it been secured around the edges. The good news is that this factor will not be noticeable on the plate, for reasons described above.
Sit the pie on a heatproof surface and leave it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Brief Information Interlude: Land of Pies and Pasties?
There is a widely held perception around the world that the British are a race obsessed with creating meat and fish based pies and pasties. Unlike many food generalisations applied to countries and their peoples, this is one that cannot be denied and is very much based in fact. While sweet pies such as apple or blueberry pies may be most popular in the US, in the UK you are far more likely to find pies made of steak and sausage, steak and kidney, pork, or various fish combinations—although sweet pies are popular as well!
What it is important to know is that many of these pies are absolutely delicious and are not accurately represented by a high percentage of cheaper end of the scale, supermarket productions/reproductions. The regional pie and pasty recipes which exist around the UK are virtually countless. If you are visiting the UK and want to try authentic pie productions, you should visit a local butcher's or baker's shop—or even better, a local pub for lunch—rather than resorting to the mass produced, often substandard budget varieties.
Not visiting the UK but want to try some of these ideas? You can always make your own at home!
How to Pan Roast Potatoes
Start a deep frying pan of oil or your deep fat fryer preheating while you rub the skins from the potatoes and (optionally) cut them in half. When the oil is fairly hot, add the potatoes and fry for about five or six minutes until crisp and golden, moving them around the pan carefully and occasionally with a metal slotted spoon or deep frying spider.
Lift the cooked potatoes to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain for a couple of minutes.
How to Make Braised Savoy Cabbage and Onion
Cabbage leaves of different types will often have a tough central vein in an approximate, narrow triangular shape. This is especially evident in the outer leaves. You may want to cut this out and discard it before you roll the leaves and slice across the way.
Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and add the cabbage, onion and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Stir fry for a few minutes until the cabbage and onion are softened.
Plating Up Steak, Beetroot and Stilton Pie
The steak pie can of course be plated up in any way you choose and this is therefore just a suggestion.
Cut the pastry in half across the pie. Lift one half up and over on to the other.
With a large, slotted spoon, scoop half the pie filling on to the first serving plate.
Place the pastry on top of the filling as shown and repeat with the second half of the pie on the second plate. Arrange the potatoes and cabbage alongside to serve, as shown in the photo at the top of the page.
© 2014 Gordon Hamilton