Hello, food lovers! The colder months are upon us, and in England, there’s no heartier dish for the evening than Steak and Ale Pie with Guinness. This versatile recipe is expertly balanced to mitigate the bitterness of the stout, earning it the title of Best Ale Beef Pie. Additionally, I’ve included methods for preparing it solely as a stew or using a slow cooker for added convenience. Lets get cooking!
When you finish with this recipe I recommend you to check out my other Recipes from United Kingdom.
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History of Steak and Ale Pie
The steak and ale pie is a classic British dish that embodies the hearty and comforting essence of traditional British cuisine. It combines tender chunks of beef, rich ale, and flaky pastry to create a meal that has warmed the bellies and hearts of many for centuries.
Origins of Ale Beef Pie
The roots of the steak and ale pie trace back to the medieval times. Pies during this period were referred to as “coffins” or “cofyns”, which simply meant a pastry case. They were initially used as an edible container for various fillings rather than being consumed as part of the dish. The pastry was made from flour and water, resulting in a tough, inedible crust. Over time, however, the crusts became more refined and palatable.
Influence of the Pasty
The Cornish pasty, a hand-held meat and vegetable pie from the southwest of England, influenced the development of various British meat pies, including the steak and ale pie. While the ingredients and preparation differed, the idea of encasing meat in pastry remained a common theme.
The Role of Ale or Stout
The inclusion of ale in the steak pie appears to be a relatively modern adaptation. Traditionally, meat pies were cooked with water or broth. The addition of ale imparts a unique depth of flavour to the pie, enhancing its richness and overall taste profile.
Popularity in British Pubs
By the 20th century, the steak and ale pie had become a staple in British pubs. Its hearty nature made it a perfect accompaniment to a pint of beer. Many pubs started offering their own variations of the dish, often using their house ale in the recipe.
In my recipe, we specifically use Guinness. This world-renowned Irish stout is known for its deep, roasted flavours, dark hue, and characteristic slight bitterness. When incorporated into the steak and ale pie, Guinness provides a robust, malty taste with subtle notes of caramel, coffee, and a hint of bitterness that complements the richness of the meat. Its complexity elevates the dish, making it even more savoury and satisfying. The choice of Guinness not only adds a unique twist to the traditional recipe but also celebrates the rich history and cultural ties between British and Irish cuisines.
How to prepare Beef and Guinness Pie:
Steak and Ale Pie (Guinness)
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- 1.1 lbs Beef stewing steak - (500g) diced
- 3 Onions, medium size - peeled and diced
- 2 Carrots, medium size - peeled and diced
- 1 Celery stalk - fine dice
- 6 Garlic cloves - sliced
- 1.1 lbs Potatoes - (500g) large dice
- 1 can Guinness - (440ml) or other ale or stout
- 1.7 cups Beef stock - (400ml)
- 2 tbsp Tomato puree
- 1 tbsp Fresh thyme
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp All-purpose flour
- 1 sheet Ready-rolled puff pastry
- 1 Egg - beaten (for glazing)
- In a large pot or deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Toss the beef cubes in flour, shaking off the excess, and brown them in the hot oil. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pot, add a bit more oil if needed and sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the Guinness and beef stock, then add the tomato paste. Stir well, ensuring all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot are incorporated.
- Add the browned beef back into the pot, season with salt and pepper, and stir.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour of simmering, add the diced potatoes into the pot and continue simmering for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened.
- Preheat your oven to 356℉ (180°C) in preparation for baking the pie.
- Once the filling is ready, if you prefer a thicker sauce, you can thicken it further using a gravy mix or a slurry of flour and water. Stir until the desired consistency is achieved. Transfer the thickened filling to a pie dish. Roll out the puff pastry and place it over the top of the filling, crimping the edges. Make a small slit in the centre for steam to escape. Brush the top with the beaten egg for a golden finish.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
- Allow the pie to rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy with a side salad or additional vegetables if desired.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Some people enjoy the tangy, umami flavour of Worcestershire sauce in this dish. If you’d like to add it, 1-2 tablespoons mixed into the sauce can enhance the depth of flavour.
- Preparation as a Stew: If you’d prefer a stew instead of a pie, simply follow the recipe up to the pie assembly step. Serve the filling as a hearty stew with crusty bread or over mashed potatoes.
- Slow Cooker Preparation: To prepare the filling in a slow cooker, brown the meat and sauté the vegetables as directed, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the beef is tender. If you’d like a thicker sauce, you can reduce it on the stove after slow cooking.
- Guinness Bitterness: Some recipes omit the addition of beef stock, which can result in a more pronounced bitterness from the Guinness.
- Pickled Additions: For an extra kick and tanginess, consider adding chopped pickled chili or gherkins to the pie filling. They can offer a refreshing contrast to the rich flavours.
FAQs for Steak and Ale Pie:
- What beef should I use for the steak pie? For the steak pie, it’s recommended to use beef that’s well-suited for slow cooking, as this ensures the meat becomes tender and flavourful. Cuts such as chuck or braising steak are ideal. These cuts have a good amount of marbling, which breaks down during cooking, resulting in succulent, melt-in-the-mouth pieces of beef.
- What ale should I use for the steak and ale pie? While our recipe specifically calls for Guinness due to its deep, roasted flavours and slight bitterness, you can use other ales as well. Traditional British ales, such as bitters or mild’s, work wonderfully. The key is to choose an ale that you enjoy drinking, as its flavour will permeate the pie. If you’re not a fan of the robustness of stouts like Guinness, lighter ales can also be used, but keep in mind that the flavour profile of the pie will change accordingly.
Few words from Chef
I trust you enjoyed making this traditional Polish food! I’m eager to hear your feedback on my family recipe for Bigos Hultajski. Thanks for trying out this staple of Polish Cuisine! Let me know in the comments below!