Beef cheek, stout and treacle pie

Beef cheek, stout and treacle pie

By
From
The Tivoli Road Baker
Makes
8 individual pies or 1 family pie
Photographer
Bonnie Savage and Alan Benson

This is certainly our most popular pie – it rarely comes off the menu. Beef cheeks have a good amount of marbling and a high proportion of surface area, so you get lots of caramelisation when you’re browning the meat, and they retain their moisture and shape in the braising process. You could use any slow-cooking cut of beef, such as chuck steak, gravy beef or brisket. This recipe works just as well for a large family pie as it does for smaller, individual pies.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Filling

Quantity Ingredient
100ml vegetable oil
800g beef cheeks
300ml stout
30ml black treacle (use molasses if unavailable)
1 litre beef stock
20g unsalted butter
2 medium brown onions, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
10 button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bunch thyme, leaves picked and roughly chopped
3 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Assembly

Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity see method for ingredients
1/2 quantity see method for ingredients
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Method

  1. Roll out the savoury shortcrust pastry into a sheet roughly 4 mm (1/8 in) thick. Wrap the sheet in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Roll the puff pastry into a sheet roughly 3 mm (¼ in) thick, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Let the pastry rest after rolling it out – this will stop it shrinking once cut.
  2. To make the filling, heat 40 ml (1¼ floz) of the vegetable oil in a large frying pan until hot. Season the beef cheeks with salt and pepper, and cook them over a medium heat until they are brown and caramelised on all sides.
  3. Transfer the beef cheeks to a large pan with the stout, treacle and beef stock. Bring it to a simmer and then reduce to a low heat – you barely want to see a ripple while it’s simmering. Braise on the stove, uncovered, for 1½–2 hours, until the beef just begins to come apart with gentle pressure. Remove the cheeks from the stock and set aside to cool. Increase the heat and simmer the stock until reduced by half.
  4. While the beef is cooking, you can prepare your vegetables. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining 60 ml (2 floz/¼ cup) of oil, and the butter. Gently fry the onions and garlic until soft and translucent, then add the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in the thyme and remove from heat.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, chop the beef cheeks into roughly 2 cm (¾ in) square chunks. Put the beef and the cooked vegetables into a large pan together with the reduced stock and bring to the boil. In a small bowl, mix the cornflour with a little water and stir until you have a loose paste or slurry, adding more water if needed. Stir the cornflour slurry into the pie mixture until it begins to thicken. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool slightly, then season to taste with salt and pepper and leave to cool.
  6. Before you assemble the pies, preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and lightly grease your pie dishes. Lay the savoury shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured bench, and cut out 8 discs of pastry for the bases, 2 cm (¾ in) wider in diameter than the base of your pie dishes.
  7. Line each pie dish with a round of shortcrust pastry and press it well into the corners of the base with your thumb. Trim off any excess and lightly brush the edges with the beaten egg. Lay out your sheet of puff pastry and cut 8 discs slightly larger than the diameter of the top of your pie dishes. Fill each pie generously with the filling and top each with a puff pastry lid. Press the edges of the pastry base and lid together to seal.
  8. Brush the top of each pie with egg wash, pierce it a couple of times with a sharp knife or a fork, and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake at 180°C (360°F) for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160°C (320°F) and bake for a further 30–40 minutes, until the pies are nice and golden. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before eating.
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