Saturday, 10 November 2012

Steak and ale pies - recipe

One of the things people don't know about me is that I spent a lot of my younger years growing up in was in Lancashire then for the most part. A lot of my family and friends still live there or nearby, its a town renowned for a lot of things but has become famous for its pies. I'm not sure how that started but they do make a mean pie there and if you are a home baker its in your genes (sort of).

All thats changed now but as the saying goes...'you can take the girl out of Wigan but you can't....'

Here is my recipe for individual steak and ale pies and (unusually for me) I'm dedicating this recipe to my aunty and uncle (Irene and Eddie), now living in Northamptonshire but they did once live in Wigan for a spell. When I was a young student (not in Wigan I might add) living away from home they were very kind to me...and I know they are my family and it sort of goes with the territory, but I remember very fondly the times I spent with them and their daughters, occasionally cooking some meals in their flat at the time...
The ale I have used in this recipe is called 'Big John' after the 1960's song ("Big John...big bad John") about a coal miner who saved other miners after a roof collapse...this is a local darker beer brewed about 3 miles from me by Prospect Brewery, on the outskirts of Wigan in Standish. The brewery owner is also known as big John too (he's not a miner, he's a brewer!).

Beef skirt is best for this recipe as it makes a fabulous might need to get this from your local butcher as its not a cut of meat you see in a lot of supermarkets. Its not an expensive cut of beef but probably snaffled for other uses.
for the filling
500g skirt beef
a glug of olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
2 carrots peeled/sliced
1 onion chopped
1 stick celery chopped
1 bottle of dark ale (I used one brewed near to me from a local micro brewery) or use a dark ale or an Irish stout is good
2 tsp cornflour + cold water
for the pastry tops
1 quantity of homemade rough puff pastry OR
a packet of fresh puff pastry
beaten egg to glaze the pies
This will make between 4 and 6 pies, depending on dish size and generosity of the cook.
1. Start well in advance with making the filling and I make mine the day before if I can as this allows the flavours to develop. You want it to be quite cold by the time you assemble the pies. You will need a lidded casserole dish to make the filling in.
2. Put a glug of olive oil in a heavy casserole and add the onion and celery to soften but not too brown. Add the cubed skirt beef and fry until the beef is browned. Add the carrots and season.
3. Add the bottle of ale and bring to a simmer on the hob. Put the lid on the casserole and put in the oven at 170C fan for about an hour and a half, or until the meat is tender.
4. Remove the casserole from the oven and taste and add more seasoning if needed. If you wan to thicken the gravy with some cornflour (about 2tsp) mixed with cold water. Leave the filling to cool.
5. When the filling is cool spoon into the individual greased edged pie dishes (be generous, there is nothing worse than a mean pie!).
6. If you have been a domestic goddess and made your own pastry it'll have been made and rested by now and will be ready to go. Otherwise open the packet of puff pastry and roll it out on a floured board/worktop. Pre heat the oven to bake the pies to 180C fan.
7. Use an empty dish as a template guide for the pastry top. Cut out an oval using the dish and add this on top of the filling. Decorate the pies if you wish, I used a little heart cutter, cute! Cut a hole in the top and brush with egg wash.
8. Bake the pies for about 30-40 minutes, depends how brown you like them. Serve with other veggies.

With love to Aunty Irene and Uncle Eddie. xxx


  1. Love steak with ale, like a budget version of Boeuf Bourguignon but just a good in my opinion, pastry topping even better!

  2. a thing of beauty... that's not a girl from Wigan (although you are of course) but those divine pies... truly heavenly... lovely recipe... wonderfully poetic journey x

  3. Oh wow, amazing pies. It is the time of year for lovely comfort food.

  4. Perfectly turned out pies. If I ate meat I am sure I would be happy to sit down to this pie fest.

  5. Beautiful pies - I am a Pie kinda gal! Karen

  6. Oh I do love a good pie and these look steamy and delicious. Pastry just didn't make it into my genes, although my grandmother excelled at the art. If ever I make it up to Lancashire, I'll be calling in on you for a pie for sure :)

  7. Estupenda receta me gustan los pies linda y deliciosa,abrazos y abrazos

    1. Gracias Rosita!

      (This comment translates as...Great recipe I like cute feet and delicious, hugs and kisses)

  8. They look delicious - that gravy in particular looks perfect for cold weather. Yum.


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x