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Steak & Ale Pie

by Jon Finch from Beer Craft (Sphere Books)

Serves 4 - 6


The stew

1kg stewing steak/beef shin – chopped into 1" cubes

Plain flour

Salt & pepper

1 onion, diced

2 sticks celery, coarsely chopped

6 large carrots, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 bay leaf

500ml good beef stock

500ml either malty dark ale or stout

The pastry

650g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

250g lard or cold butter, diced, plus extra for greasing

1 egg, beaten


First make the pastry. Although Nige says you’ll have plenty of time to do this when the meat is cooking.

Crumble the flour and lard, or butter, together with a generous pinch of sea salt until completely combined. Add around 200ml ice-cold water to make a soft dough.

Knead to combine then wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for at least one hour.

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper.

Tip flour into a bowl and dredge the beef cubes so they get a light coating.

In two to three batches, brown the beef cubes in a deep casserole pan over a medium heat, transferring the cooked batches to a bowl.

When all the beef has browned, add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan. Cook until softened and starting to brown.

Then add the tomato puree and cook for a further minute or two.

Add the stock and beer. Scrape all the sides and bottom of the pan to get the dark brown bits mixed in – this is flavour!

Add the beef back to the pan and add the bay leaf.

Lower the heat to the gentlest of simmers (one bubble every twenty seconds) and allow to cook, lid on (alternatively, place the cooking pot in an oven at 150ºC for the same amount of time).

Check every hour or so and add more stock if it begins to dry out.

Cook for three to four hours and then test the beef – it should be soft enough to cut with a blunt spoon.

Tip the mixture into a pie dish and top with the pastry, crimping down the edges to make a good seal.

Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.

Slash the lid to allow steam to escape.

Bake in a hot oven (180ºC) for around twenty-five minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

For a veggie option add chunky slices of field or shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts & cubed potatoes, fresh thyme, & simmer all these with veggie stock for an hour & a half. You could also use jackfruit which is a great meat substitute. This huge Asian fibrous fruit, which can grow to 50 kilos, & you can buy in cans, jars or frozen, is a great conduit for other flavours.

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