Introduction: Gluten Free Steak and Ale Pie
What's better than a stonking great steak and ale pie on a cold winters day? A gluten free one of course!
This recipe employs the same pastry used in my Gluten Free Cornish Pasties recipe.
Before you start, don't expect this to be a quick recipe! The pie filling takes quite a while to cook and should really be done a day in advance.
This recipe should easily feed a family of four.
Step 1: Ingredients
Ingredients for the pastry:
- 400g gluten free plain flour
- 200g unsalted butter (or go half and half with lard to add an authentic taste)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp gluten free Xanthum Gum or alternative binding agent
- 100 ml Creme Fraiche (or two small egg yolks)
- cold water
- 1 egg, beaten, for glazing
Ingredients for the filling:
- 500ml gluten free ale (whatever is available as the choice is generally limited here)
- 500g beef of choice
- 400ml beef stock (the richer the better so maybe use two cubes here)
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped into cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 200g chopped bacon rashers or lardons
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp gluten free plain flour
- thyme, bay leaves and parsley
Step 2: Prepare the Filling
For this recipe, I like to start with the filling as it can take quite a while to cook through - and then just as long (if not longer) to cool down.
Ideally, make the filling the day before you want to assemble your pie.
First off, take the bacon (or lardons) and chop into small pieces and fry in a pan until they've rendered down and started to crisp nicely. Empty out and leave to cool before placing in the fridge. These will be added right at the end when the filling has cooled down.
Step 3: Prepare the Beef
Tip: If you're using a cheap cut of beef then here's one little trick to make it a little more tender... Coat the beef really well in gluten-free baking powder and leave to stand for an hour or so. After that, give it a wash and dry with kitchen towel. The baking powder helps to tenderise the beef and works really well here.
Take the beef and cut it into small cubes, removing any unwanted pieces.
Bring a frying pan up to a high heat and put in a small amount of olive oil. Start to fry the beef in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan and steaming the beef. What you're after is a nice browning here.
Once the beef starts to brown, set it to one side and do the remaining batches.
Step 4: Prepare the Vegetables
Put a tablespoon of butter along with a glug of olive oil into a large pan and put onto a medium heat. Once the butter is melted add in the chopped onions and carrots and keep turning these around for 4-5 mins. Add the chopped garlic and turn for a further minute.
Step 5: Finish the Filling
Lower the heat and add in the flour and mix really well.
Put all of the meat into the pan and stir well. Add a good dash of ground black pepper and a pinch of salt.
Pour in the ale and mix well again. Bring the heat back up and keep stirring until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat slightly but continue to cook as is for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add in the beef stock and the herbs and give it another stir.
Bring up to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer. This should be cooked like this for 1 to 2 hours, stirring now and then. I tend to put a lid on for the first hour and then remove for the second, allowing the sauce to thicken.
What you're looking for is the beef being nice and tender and the gravy a little thick. If necessary, thicken with some cornflour mixed with cold water.
After the filling is cooked, remove from the heat and take out the herbs if you were using fresh. Now add in the cooked bacon and mix through.
Leave the mixture to cool. The longer the better and ideally overnight and in the fridge.
Step 6: Making the Pastry
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the Xanthum Gum and salt. It's important to mix this well before continuing.
Rub in all of the butter with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Some gluten free flours tend to be quite fine, so you may need to add a little more flour when reducing to breadcrumbs. Using a fork, mix in the creme fraiche and then start adding cold water 1 tbsp at a time until a nice dough starts to form. Continue to mix using your hands, turning the dough into itself to ensure a nice blend. You don't want this to be too sticky - add a little more flour if it sticks to the bowl or your hands.
Take the dough and wrap it in cling film before placing in the fridge for at least an hour.
Step 7: Make the Pie Base
Grease a 10" pastry dish with a little butter.
Having allowed the dough to cool, take it out of the fridge and place half onto a floured surface. Work the dough with your hands until it's a little more pliable before rolling it out into a 3-4mm thick round that is larger than the base of your pie dish (I used a 10" pie dish that's 1.5" deep; so I made a 12" round of pastry from the dough).
From one end, carefully lift and roll the dough onto the rolling pin before placing over the pie dish. Taking your time, lower the pastry into the dish making sure that it's touching all of the base nicely. The sides should be all covered and pressed into place. Make sure to leave pastry hanging over the rim of the pie dish. With your fingertips, press down over all of the base. If there's any gaps or tears then simply fill/repair with any left over pastry.
Step 8: Fill the Base With Pie Filling
Take the pie filling out of the fridge and ladle it into the pie dish. There should be enough filling to fill the dish to the rim. Ensure it's evenly spread out.
Step 9: Making the Pie Lid and Finishing Off
Take the other half of the dough and roll out onto a floured surface. You should aim for a round that is approximately 5mm thick and larger than the pie dish.
When you're happy, carefully roll back onto the rolling pin and then lay the pastry over the pie dish.
Note: If you find the pastry is tearing too much when you're trying to get it over the pie then kneed it back into a ball and place back in the fridge for 30 mins before trying again.
With the pie topping in place, work around the edge pressing down with a fork to join the top and bottom of the pastry.
Using a sharp knife, work around the edge of the pie dish removing any excess pastry.
Make a few holes in the top of the pie for the steam to vent out of.
Beat one egg in a bowl and then brush generously over the pie to create a lovely golden finish when cooked.
To add a little finishing touch, make a couple of leaf shapes with the remaining pastry and place on top, brushing the leaves with egg wash when done.
Step 10: Time to Cook!
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F and once up to temperature place the pie dish onto a baking tray and then onto the middle shelf of the oven for approximately 1hr. The actual time required will depend on how crispy you want the pie to be. Adjust slightly for a fan assisted oven.
When done, take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
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How big is a "tablespoon" where you are? I'm used to a 15ml tablespoon, but I gather some places it's 20ml.
I'm in the UK so we're a little imperial here :) So 15ml tablespoon sounds about right!