When it's cold outside there's nothing better than coming home and curling up on the sofa with a comforting, home-cooked meal.
Steak pie is one of my favourites. It's simple to make and perfect for this time of year, so why not give it a go?
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And don't forget the secret ingredient... cocoa, which adds a slight bitterness as well as a kick.
My Steak Pie
A large chunk of dripping
700g of boneless beef shin or ox cheek, cut into large chunks
20g of plain flour, seasoned
200g of smoked bacon lardons
225g of whole pickled baby onions
100g of chestnut mushrooms
10og of chopped carrots, cooked for 2 mins
400ml of sweetish dark ale
400ml of beef stock
4 sprigs of thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp of dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
1 tsp of cocoa
For the pastry:
A packet of ready rolled puff pastry
A little milk, to glaze
1 Preheat the oven to 150C (fan).
2 Heat a generous chunk of dripping in a large frying pan over a high heat, and toss the beef in seasoned flour to coat.
3 Sear the beef in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, until properly browned. Spoon into an ovenproof casserole once done.
4 Turn down the heat slightly and add the lardons and the onions to the pan. Cook until the bacon fat begins to melt and the onions brown on all sides, then tip into the casserole.
5 Pour a little of the ale into the pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape the bottom, then pour the whole lot into the casserole with the meat.
6 Add the rest of the ale and the stock, vegetables, herbs, sugar, vinegar and cocoa and bring to a simmer.
7 Cover and put in the oven for 2¼ hours, then uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 1½ hours until the meat is tender and almost falling apart (it will cook further in the pie.) Allow to cool to room temperature.
8 Meanwhile, get the pastry ready. Cut to size for what ever dish you are covering.
9 Preheat the oven to 170C (fan).
10 Spoon the pie filling into a dish and roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 1cm thick.
11 Place over the pie, pushing down around the edge to seal, and cut a hole in the middle to allow steam out. Brush with milk and then bake for about 50 minutes until golden.