Updated: Dec 12, 2022
by Elaine Lemm from More Than Yorkshire Puddings: Food, Stories and Over 100 Recipes from God’s Own County
Steak and ale is a proper Yorkshire pie full of great ingredients and lovely memories – and my mum’s pie was legendary. This pie was permanently on the menu at my restaurant, which bears testament to its solid Yorkshire heritage. Do not be alarmed using Yorkshire Terrier in the pie; it is not meat but a lovely ale from York Brewery.
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry (see recipe below)
For the filling:
25 g plain flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
25 g salted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
900 g thick braising steak, cut into 2.5 cm chunks
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons tomato puree
500 ml Yorkshire Terrier ale (or your favourite)
500 ml beef stock
1 large egg, beaten
1. Put the flour into a shallow dish large enough to hold all the meat, season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish, to hot. Add the steak in three separate batches. Brown all over, then put into the dish of flour, rolling it around to coat all the pieces.
3. Add the onions and carrots to the pan you seared the meat in and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the beef back to the pan, add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, beer and stock. Season with black pepper and salt, stir and bring to a boil.
4. Cover the casserole, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook slowly for 2 hours until the meat is tender, and the sauce is thickened.
5. Meanwhile, make the pastry and rest it while the stew is cooking.
6. Take the casserole from the heat, lift the casserole lid, stir, then re-cover leaving a small gap to allow steam to escape and cool completely.
7. When you are ready to cook the pie, heat the oven to 200ºC fan.
8. Roll the pastry to 1 cm thick and large enough to line the bottom and sides of an oblong 24 cm x 5 cm pie dish and cut a lid for your pie dish. Line the dish and trim to size.
9. Using a slotted spoon, lift the meat and vegetables from the casserole, allowing the gravy to drain back in, put the meat into the pie, fill until the filling is ever so slightly higher than the rim.
10. Sit a pie funnel in the centre of the pie to support the pastry lid and stop it from sinking into the filling. Lay the lid over, trim to fit, and crimp the edges using your thumb and first finger to create a good, tight seal.
11. Brush with beaten egg and make a tiny hole in the centre to reveal the pie funnel. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30–35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
12. Serve piping hot with the leftover reheated gravy from the casserole dish, roast or mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.
Seriously, there is no need to fear making shortcrust pastry – there are those who make out it is difficult, I have no idea why. Shortcrust pastry is merely flour, fat, cold water and perhaps a pinch of salt or a little sugar. That is it.
Read the hints and tips below if you are new to making the pastry. Otherwise, crack on with this recipe. I have been using it for years, and it rarely lets me down.
My shortcrust pastry
This recipe makes 300 g of pastry, enough for a regular-sized pie or flan, or at least 12 jam tarts or mince pies. See the pastry calculator below for different quantities.
200 g plain flour
110 g butter or a 50/50 mix of butter and lard
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cold water
Now is the time to choose – by hand or machine?
It is up to you, but I often use a food processor or my Thermomix. A machine makes short work of the pastry and prevents the mixture from getting too hot. The only danger in using a machine is if you overmix, this will warm the mix and make it too crumbly to bind together.
Hand making, though, is lovely if you have the time; apply a light touch and keep your hands, bowl and ingredients as cold as you possibly can.
1. Using a large, clean, cold mixing bowl, sift in the flour, then add the butter and salt. Gently rub the mixture between your fingers to incorporate the fat into the flour, lifting as you rub to add a little air for a light pastry until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Add the cold water a little at a time, and using a cold knife, stir to bind the dough together. Do not over mix. Add more water as needed.
3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for at least 15 minutes, longer if you can.
1. Place the flour, butter and salt into the bowl of the processor.
2. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs as above; this will happen quickly. With the motor running, add the water a little at a time, and the instant the pastry starts to bind, stop the motor.
3. Tip the pastry onto the work surface, lightly bring it together, and wrap in cling as above.
That is all there is to it because once the pastry has rested, it is ready to use in all your favourite recipes.