Beef And Cotswold Way Ale Pie - Something between the beers

Monday, November 26, 2007
Frozen meals version of beef pie

It's all in a name. I stumbled accross Cotswold Way ale in the supermarket last year while I was looking for a good beer for my beef pie. Maybe it was because just a few months earlier I had walked the Cotswold Way (from Chipping Campden to Bath), or maybe it was just name association, but I tried it out and it worked very well. Being a mild pale ale Cotswold Way ale adds a malty-brown-sugary hint to the beef pie without being overpowering which you get with stronger darker bitters.
Bistro delivery version of beef pie
The top 5 ways to make a good beef pie

1 - Use the best quality Ingredients. Get your beef direct from your local farm. Shin is the best cut for slow cooking - it has the most amazing texture and flavour. I got this from Home Farm in Bredons Norton, where they had a whole piece hanging up in their cold store. They will cut it for you, but I like doing that myself. I also use Kites Nest Farm in Broadway. The colour of the meat is slighty dark which shows it has been matured - which is why supermarket meat looks so bright red.
The mushrooms I use for this are Oakfield organic portobello mushrooms, and the thyme often comes from my garden.The award winning Cotswold Way ale:
2 - Get a good seal on the beef. For this you want a large pan, and very hot. Leave some space in the pan -if you crowd the beef there is nowhere for the steam to go, and it will stew rather than caramelise. The caramelisation gives you the depth of flavour in your beef pie. Close your kitchen door or you may set off the smoke alarm in your house.3 - Deglazing. When you have lifted out your sealed beef in to your casserole dish, add a little more oil and cook the onions till the start to caramelise. As they caramelise they will lift the sediment from the beef you sealed before. Cook the mushrooms afterwards in the same pan, and again, you want them to have space in the pan so they colour on the outside rather than steaming. This colour will give you a richer flavour. Once they are well coloured and transferred to the casserole dish, add a litte of the ale in to the pan to lift off any sediment - deglazing - and add this to your casserole. This is the way you maximise your flavours.

4 - Use a holey baking tin.
Once your beef is cooked (between 4 and 7 hours for shin. The most I ever cooked it for was 9 hours and it melted) and cool, you are ready to make your pie. A perforated tin such as the one above allows the bottom of the pie to cook properly so the pastry doesn't sweat - crispy instead of soggy: the perfect pie. It is also easy to undo as the base lifts out - saving you from breaking it.

5a - Make sure your gravy you put in the pie is very thick (with extra cornflour to thicken if neccessary). This means less steam, so the pastry will hold together without bursting.

5b - Seal it wth an egg. Before putting the lid on, brush the top of the pastry that forms the base with beaten egg. Put the lid on squeezing the two layers together in your fingers. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to half an hour so the join seals. This is much stronger, and less likely to burst open when cooking.

Al moderne

You could cut out a square or oval of shortcrust or puff pastry, egg wash it and cook it for 15 - 20 minutes and place it on top of your beef once cooked such as the below. This is more ideal for your guests who like pastry but not too much of it to fit in with their diets.

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