Beef, caramelised onion and ale pie

  • for 6 people
  • Takes 21/4 hours to make and 30-35 minutes to bake
Beef and ale would be more than enough to make this comforting recipe a hit, but add caramelised onions and you have an unforgettable pie.

Nutritional info per serving

Per serving: 873kcals, 52.8g fat (22.3g saturated), 46.4g protein, 60.9g carbs, 8.6g sugar, 2.2g salt

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25g plain flour
1kg braising steak, such as chuck or blade, cut into bite-size chunks
5 tbsp sunflower oil
25g butter
225g small chestnut mushrooms, wiped clean
2 onions, halved and sliced
1 tbsp sugar
4 garlic cloves, crushed
300ml good-quality beef stock
300ml brown ale
1 tsp tomato purée
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

(sh) For the mustard suet crust
350g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp English mustard powder
1 tsp salt
175g shredded beef suet
1 medium egg yolk, beaten


1. Make the suet pastry. Sift the flour, mustard powder and salt into a bowl and stir in the shredded suet. Stir in 250ml cold water to make a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill.
2. To make the pie filling, season the flour, put into a bowl with the beef and toss well until all the meat is coated. Shake off the excess flour and reserve. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a flameproof casserole, add half the beef and fry over a high heat until browned all over. Lift onto a plate and repeat with the rest of the beef. Set aside.
3. Add half the butter and all the mushrooms to the pan and fry briskly over a high heat for 2 minutes. Set aside with the beef.
4. Add the rest of the oil to the casserole with the onions and sugar, and cook over a medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelised. Add the rest of the butter and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Stir the reserved flour into the onions, followed by the stock, ale, tomato purée, thyme leaves and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, stirring, then return the beef and mushrooms to the pan, season, partially cover, and simmer for 11/2 hours, or until the beef is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened.
5. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Spoon the mixture into a deep 2-litre oval pie dish. Push a pie funnel or piping nozzle into the centre.
6. Unwrap the pastry and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a disc slightly larger than the top of the dish. Cut off a thin strip from the edge, brush with a little water and press onto the rim of the dish. Brush with more water. Cut a small cross in the centre of the pastry and lay over the dish so that the pie funnel or nozzle pokes through. Seal the pastry edges, trim away the overhanging pastry, then crimp the edges. Brush the pastry lid with the beaten egg yolk mixed with a little water. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown.

  • A good claret (red Bordeaux) is a traditional match and hits the spot. Pick a mature one. Or go for a glass of ale.

From November 2005

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