This recipe cooks enough for a family of four with enough left over to freeze for another meal.
You will need
Chopped Onions - enough to cover the bottom of the slow cooker in a 1cm layer. Fresh (about 6 medium ) or frozen will be fine.
Stewing steak - enough to cover one layer in your slow cooker (approximately 1kg or 2 lbs)
One bottle of ale -
4 stock cubes - beef
Tomato puree - a squiiiiiiiige (which is approximately 2 tablespoons)
Bisto powder - or any gravy thickener
Ready made pastry - you can make your own if you like but this recipe is designed for busy people
Onions and beef - there is no need to brown these.
Crumbled up stock cubes and tomato puree go in now too
If you are going to be in a rush the day you want to eat this then put it in the fridge at this stage. In the morning take it out and continue from here.
Pour over the ale and give it a stir.
Put on the lid and set if off to cook on high for 5 hours .... or ........ low for 8 hours. You cant really overcook it so don't worry if you go over the time.
The gravy is a little runny for a pub style pie so you need to add a little gravy powder.
Slowly sprinkle a little on at a time while vigorously stirring it in. It will thicken the gravy instantly.
This takes two hands which is why I do not have a photo of this step but look how it improves the thickness of the sauce.
Roll out the pastry to roughly the size of the pie dish.
Spoon the silky looking mess into your dish. You can make them as full or as empty as you like depending on the size of the person (e.g. adult or child! I wasn't about to get insulting :-)) or appetite.
Plonk the pastry on top. Its not meant to look pretty. The pastry shrinks slightly in the oven so if you mush trim it, leave a 1cm border.
I cook mine at 180 C (350 F or gas mark 4) until it looks done. 10 or 15 minutes should do it.
The filling has just come out of a hot slow cooker so all you are really doing is cooking the pastry through. When it is brown, it is cooked.
After you have eaten and washed up the pots, you can fill up the pie dishes again and freeze them filled ready for next time. If you are cooking them from frozen cook them on a lower temperature for much longer. The gravy should be bubbling out of the sides slightly. When this happens insert a sharp knife into the center and after a few seconds touch the tip of the knife. If it feels hot it is cooked.
It is perfect for a cold winters day especially if you have come home wet and cold.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.