The World's Best Beef Pie



It has been a wee while since I last did a recipe post on NB so today's offering will hopefully make up for the lack of food posts here! It will probably come as no surprise that today's post is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe and it should also come as no surprise to see my trusty kitchen elf Matthew in some of these photos as he is the brains and muscle behind most of our culinary operations. Matt first made this pie for me when we first started dating and boy oh boy did it make me fall in love (with him, but also with the pastry covered slices of heaven I was shovelling into my mouth). If you're British, there's a good chance you enjoy a good stodgy, comforting pie now and again as I know I do. There's something about pie, mash and some gravy that just makes me feel a bit warm and content inside. But this pie? This pie in particular is the best I've ever had. As Jamie mentions in his book, Jamie's Great Britain, he served it to Prince William & Princess Kate on their wedding day so if it's good enough for royalty, it's certainly good enough for me.

Pie is such a good way to get rid of random leftovers and ingredients in one easy way and it's also a super good meal option for those of us who might want to be a little fancy in the kitchen and make our own pastry, or for us lazy bones who buy premade but like the idea of leisurely making a hearty meal on a lazy Sunday afternoon. So throw in some good beef, some beer, and some pearl barley and you've got a winning combination and if you want to make it yourself, keep on reading and I'll tell you how!


Total time: 3.5+ hours
Serves: 10 people (or can be kept refrigerated for a few days if there's just the two of you!)

Ingredients:
For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 knob of butter
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 2-3 medium red onions
- 1kg shin of beef
- sea salt and ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
- 400ml of Guiness
- 2 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
- 1.5 litres of beef stock
- 140g pearl barley
- 3 table spoons of English or Dijon mustard
- 100g of cheddar cheese

For the pastry:
- 1 box of Just Roll shortcrust (no one has time for making pastry come on now!)
- 1 large egg, beaten, or milk (for egg/milk wash)

To prep & cook:
1.) Throw the olive oil, butter, and the herbs into a large casserole/chilli pot type pan which you need to have on the hob on a high heat. Roughly chop and add the onions (and the carrots if you have them - they're not part of the original recipe but this is a good leftovers recipe!) with the diced meat, and some salt and pepper. Mix it all together and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the tomato purée, the guiness or stout beer, flour, and stock, and stir until everything blends togethr and begins to simmer. Now we play the waiting game: turn the heat down really low and pop the lid on the pot, letting it cook for 1 hour - just make sure to check on it occasionally.



After that initial hour, it's time for my favourite ingredient: begin to stir in the pearl barley. Put the lid back on and simmer the mixture for another hour, and once the time is up, simply remove the lid and let the pot simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the meat shreds easily and the gravy has thickened. If there is any oil sitting on the surface, spoon it away and stir in the mustard and finely grate the cheese to add. If you have Worcestershire sauce - add this in too!

Whilst the pie filling is still simmering away, now is the time to get the pastry ready. Don't waste time making some - you can if you want to go all out but Just Roll pastry is just as tasty, less hassle, and takes no where near as much time to make. Simply take the pastry out of the fridge in good time, flour your surface which you are going to roll the pastry out on and your rolling pin and you're good to go! Once you have rolled out the pastry to about 1cm thick, preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Take the pot off the hob and ladle the stew into a large pie/lasagne dish. Make sure you have beaten your egg/have some milk ready and use it to eggwash/milkwash the edges of the pie dish, ready for adding the pastry soon! If you don't have a pastry brush you can always use a clean foundation brush if you don't mind needing to wash it afterwards. It's also worth noting if you want your pie to be really golden and shiny once baked, an eggwash will get a better finish but it's not a necessity.



Now is your chance to make sure your pastry is big enough to cover your whole dish. If it *just* fits it's not the end of the world - the pastry will just collapse and lie on top of the filling, making it less crisp (this happened this time around for us making it!) but it doesn't ruin it. But to avoid pastry shrinkage, make sure you have rolled your pastry out so it is a little bit bigger than the dish. Carefully place it on top of the pie and then trim off any pastry which is hanging over the edges to stop them from burning. Pinch and squash the edges of the pastry (or use a fork to imprint the edges) for traditional pie deco. If you have any leftover pastry from the edges you can always use them to put some letters/decoration on top of the pie! Eggwash/milkwash the pastry and cook the pie at the bottom of the hot oven found 45 to 50 minutes or until the pastry is looking golden and mouthwateringly good.

Once it's ready, take it out of the oven and give it a few minutes to rest and cool down. The best thing about this pie is that it is great on it's own or with a multitude veggies/side dishes. As you can see, Matt & I had it will far too much mustard mash and tasty wee sweet peas but we also had it with mash and beans, with wedges, or you could just simply have it with lots of good veggies if you don't want anything extra stodgy.



And that's it! This pie is such a nice idea for any big gathering or to impress family members! It's a nice meal for any time of the year but it's obviously especially good during the autumn/winter months because it's such a comforting dish which is warming on a chilly evening. It's also a nice alternative to your traditional Sunday roast if somehow that sort of meal is getting boring. Like I mentioned earlier, it's a good one for serving larger groups but also for small groups with leftovers. Matt made this pie on Sunday and we were still working our way through it on Thursday - it lasts quite well in the fridge so you can definitely save it and keep it for lunches/dinners later in the week, making it quite a cheap and cheery meal to make too!

As always, our recipes are either missing or adding ingredients when compared to the originals, but let me know how you get on if you decide to make it!


- A.
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