Beef & Ale Puff Pastry Pie | Beef & Ale Pie Recipe

This beef & ale puff pastry pie recipe will teach you how to make the perfect beef and ale pie filling and comes with the perfect puff pastry recipe as well.

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Beef & Ale Puff Pastry Pie | Beef & Ale Pie Recipe

Beef & Ale Puff Pastry Pie | Beef & Ale Pie Recipe – An Introduction

When it comes to pies, there are plenty of classics. Quickest to my mind is chicken and mushroom, a wonderfully creamy opportunity to ladle utter comfort into a pie case and bake it crisp. After that, I jump to steak and kidney, an always delicious, decidedly hearty affair, unfortunately out of favour in the present-day world of pies.

Of them all, however, I think beef & ale might just be the true quintessential classic. Carefully sidestepping the more commonplace nature of those made with chicken or ham, the beef and ale pie stands firm at the upper end of the scale, it’s luxurious beefiness able to draw people in without being ever quite so hampered as it is when coupled with the not-so-reputable offal of its steak and kidney counterpart.

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This Beef & Ale Pie Recipe

While I, and I’m sure a great many others, might still thoroughly enjoy kidney, its reputation is perhaps even lower than that of most of the offal we might stumble across in our culinary adventures. It is, after all, rather difficult to shake the reputation of being something of a piss sack. And while that isn’t strictly, biologically quite the case, I dare anyone to adopt such a reputation for any substantial period of time and later work out how to shake it.

Furthermore, by dropping said irreputable ingredient, we open the door for the addition of a newer and much sexier co-star, the undeniable and always-in-fashion booze. Ale, to be specific, not that beef doesn’t hold up just fine against almost any kind of alcohol you can think of.

This particular beef and ale pie recipe was born as a cheat meal – a needlessly overindulgent meal-for-two-for-one sort of deal. The result is a deliciously soft beef, braised, along with a few carefully selected herbs and spices, in ale and encased in perfectly made, incredibly crisp puff pastry – a perfect pie recipe.

Puff Pastry Pie Recipe

Containing almost a kilo of beef, this beef and ale puff pastry pie might be small in size, but it’s very much a two man recipe. It would be perfect with chips, mash or simple vegetables.

Or, you know, eaten whole by a greedy man starved of delicious food for far, far too long!

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Beef & Ale Pie Filling

The most important thing to note about the beef and ale pie mix in this recipe is that it’s not simple cooked with the pie. It is in fact braised down slowly with beer and a select choice of herbs and spices, all carefully chosen to emphasize and compliment the beef as much as possible.

Most of us know at least a little about how to braise beef. But if you’ve ever wondered how to braise the very best beef possible, the best place to start might be to examine just what braising is. That begins with collagen.

Collagen can be found throughout the body. It comprises part of the connective tissues which exist within everything from our eyes to our bones. Tougher cuts of meat contain more of these connective tissues and thus more collagen.

How to braise beef

Braising is the name given to the technique of gently simmering those meats in water, causing the collagen-heavy connective tissues within the meat to break down into gelatin, which holds far more value to us as cooks.

This is because gelatin possesses the desirable trait of being far easier to eat than collagen and the property of serving as a wonderful thickener for sauces. More than that, gelatin can even serve as a powerful setting agent, as we see in a great many of the sweets and treats we all know and love. For the purposes of this simple beef and ale pie recipe, however, we will only be employing its less vaunted, but still valuable ability to thicken our sauce.

So when it comes to how to braise beef, the answer is in fact very simple. We cook it long and slow in a suitably flavoured liquid to allow all of those wonderful things to happen gradually and naturally.

Cooking the pie mix

How to braise beef

The thing that really makes all the difference when it comes to the filling in this beef and ale pie recipe is the flavours we choose to pair with the beef. Beef and ale pie is a classic for a reason, so ale will be the starting point in this particular recipe. But alongside that ale will be an assortment of other, equally important ingredients that bring depth to our sauce and highlight the beef.

The first of those ingredients is more of a combination than an ingredient itself. It is a simple mirepoix of vegetables, comprised of onion, carrot and celery, diced finely enough that they will all but blend into the sauce as it cooks. This serves to further thicken our sauce and forms the base of a deeper flavour profile on which we can build more and more layers and complexity.

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Also in with the mirepoix, a little garlic and some star anise will serve as wonderful accompaniments to the beef. Garlic will always lend itself to garlic, but star anise just makes it sing. Anything aniseed always goes wonderfully with beef and is far more frequently overlooked than its deliciousness warrants.

To them, we’ll add our already seared beef, chopped into pieces perfectly suited to your chewing needs, along with a bay leaf or two and a neatly tied bundle of thyme, or in fact any hardy herb you might prefer.

Finally, we’ll add our beer and give the bottom of the pan a good scrape, ensuring the wonderful bits and pieces of flavour at the bottom don’t get forgotten, then we’ll simply braise everything down gradually over at least a couple of hours with a generous helping of black pepper.

Puff Pastry Pie

For me, the real star of any pie is the pastry. Originally invented as a simple covering, to protect ingredients from the full intensity of the heat, pastry quickly became not only a very meaningful ingredient in itself, but an art form.

I know I’m not alone in relishing the satisfying first crunch of a perfectly made puff pastry pie even more than the first full mouthful of filling. Even when I’m especially happy with the flavours wrapped up inside. Something about that perfectly crisp outer layer shattering like salted glass just works for me on a level few other things in food can.

One thing I can absolutely say for certain is that I find homemade pastry exhibits these characteristics in a way that simply cannot be matched by pastry bought from elsewhere. That’s what this recipe is all about.

This puff pastry pie recipe will show you how making your puff pastry with a little love and care can turn a good dish into a fantastic one. It will also show you how even the very best filling can be easily outshone when your pastry game is on point.

Puff pastry wrapped in clingfilm

Making the puff pastry

One thing that often gets lost in the intricacy of pastry making is the sheer simplicity of it. Making puff pastry is actually remarkably straightforward, rendering a puff pastry pie like this one a whole lot simpler than you might expect.

When you’ve been making puff pastry yourself for a little while, you’ll quickly realise that what sounds complicated when you first read it is actually much easier than most recipes let on.

I will try to explain the process and the purpose behind it so we can build a better understanding of just what goes into making puff pastry and just how overblown most recipes tend to make it seem.

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Really, when you’re making puff pastry, all you’re actually doing is making an incredibly simple dough from water, flour and a pinch of salt, layering it with butter and repeatedly folding it to create more layers.

So many homemade puff pastry recipes fail to make this clear, allowing or even encouraging you to conclude that the process of buttering and rolling the dough is somehow more scientifically involved than it ever really becomes.

In truth, you can eyeball your ingredients and you can roll your pastry however the hell you like, as long as you follow one simple principle: Folding the pastry over the butter again and again, each time rolling it out and repeating the process, creates more and more layers of pastry, each one thinner and more amenable to creating that wonderful crunch we’re looking for.

So don’t feel like you need an exact amount of butter or that you need to perfectly line up your dough. Working neatly and cleanly are important, but what matters most is creating those layers of butter and dough and building up that internal complexity.

Puff pastry how-to

We will begin by combining the water, flour and salt to create our basic dough, kneading them together and resting it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge.

If we then roll out our pastry long and flat – far more so than in the above picture – we’ll have a great place to start. We can then layer thin slices of butter all over one half and fold the other half over the top to complete that first layer.

We can then roll it out again and repeat the process, each time folding the dough and rolling it over to create additional layers.

If the dough starts to stick, sprinkle a little flour over the top. If it starts to resist the rolling pin, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for a while. Resting that gluten will allow you to roll it out far more easily when it comes back out.

Once you’ve folded and rolled the dough at least 5 or 6 times, you can neatly fold it one final time and dust it with flour, wrapping it up and once again resting it in the fridge.

Beef & Ale Pie Recipe | Putting it all together

Aside from tearing it apart once it’s ready, the most important part of the process is putting it all together. It’s also the most complicated. As you might be able to tell from the pictures, it didn’t go so smoothly for me this time around, but I got there in the end!

Ultimately, the shape of your pie is fairly unimportant. So when it comes to finding a mould, use what you have available. I used a 15cm x 6cm cake mould to create a single pie that really should have served two people. If you have something slightly bigger or slightly smaller, you can up or downscale your pie as required or even make two smaller ones.

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The above link to my bacon and leek pie recipe will give you a good guideline for the quantities to use if you’d rather make something a little smaller.

Of equal importance is remembering to grease your mould before you lay down your pastry. I forget this step all the time, which has meant many heartbreaking moments realising the beautiful pie I worked so hard on is going to be torn to shreds when I remove it from its mould. So just make sure you rub a little butter or oil on the inside of your mould before you add your pastry.

From there, it’s a case of simply rolling out that pastry until it’s 3 – 4 mm thick and long / wide enough to cut out your pieces. You’ll need two circular pieces for the top and bottom and one long, thin piece for the side. Place the bottom in first, as you might expect, then brush the edges with water and line the sides as well, pressing down slightly to make sure the sides join the base.

Blind baking the beef & ale pie case

Once the base and sides neatly line your mould, poke a few tiny holes in the bottom, or one neat one in the centre. Now line the inside as neatly as you can with ideally a single piece of tinfoil.

It doesn’t matter if it’s rough or crinkled, only that it covers the majority of the surface area. Next, fill it with rice or dried beans to stop the pastry expanding inward as it cooks.

You could just use baking beans if you have any lying around. But if you’re the kind of person who has baking beans, you probably aren’t the kind of person who needs in-depth pie construction tips.

Up next is to cook that, in the mould and lined with the rice or beans, for 10 – 15 minutes at a relatively low temperature, around 180c. You want the pastry to cook through just enough that it will be able to support the weight of the filling without picking up too much colour. If you don’t think it’s ready, give it a little longer.

You’ll then want to allow it to cool briefly and remove the rice and tinfoil, then also remove it from its mould, spoon in the filling and drape the lid on top, again poking holes to allow steam and pressure to release as it cooks.

Brush the whole thing with a beaten egg, place it top side down on a tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake it in the oven at a higher temperature, roughly 200 – 220 c. The inside is already cooked, so all you’re doing is colouring and crisping up the pastry.

You can’t over or undercook the contents, so trust your judgement. This will take roughly 20 minutes.

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Similar Recipes & Useful Sides

Easy Shortcrust Pastry Recipe – Just another link to the above noted shortcrust pastry recipe. I do have a slight preference for puff, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love pastry, regardless of which type?

Homemade Puff Pastry Sausage Roll Recipe – By my count, there are three real snack-time pastry classics. We’ve done pies, we’ll do pasties soon and then there’s the ever-humble sausage roll, beloved by all but the unpleasable.

Homemade Cottage Pie Recipe – For a totally different kind of pie, check out this tasty cottage pie recipe, with minced lamb, creamy mash and all sorts of flavour.

Bacon & Leek Pie with Homemade Puff Pastry – This recipe will show you how to make a beautiful, creamy bacon & leek pie mix and how to make the homemade puff pastry pie case we’ll be putting it in. Best. Pastry. Ever.


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Beef & Ale Puff Pastry Pie | Beef & Ale Pie Recipe

Ed Chef
This beef & ale puff pastry pie recipe will teach you how to make the perfect beef and ale pie filling and comes with the perfect puff pastry recipe as well.
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dinner, main, Main Course
Cuisine English
Servings 1 Pie

Equipment

  • 15cm Cake Mould
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pastry Brush

Ingredients
  

Puff Pastry

  • 400 g Plain Flour
  • 200 g Butter Unsalted
  • 200-250 ml Water
  • Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cups Rice, Dried Beans or Baking Beans

Pie Mix

  • 800 g Beef any braising cut
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2 sticks Celery
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 btl or can Ale ideally dark
  • 1 sml bunch Thyme or any hardy herb
  • 1/3 cup Cream
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt

Instructions
 

Making the beef & ale pie mix

  • Start by slicing the beef into bitesize pieces and sear all over in a hot, oiled pan, seasoning with a little salt.
  • Set the beef aside and finely dice the onion, carrot and celery, then cook them in the same pan, topped up with more oil if necessary, on medium heat, for 4 – 5 minutes, before chopping up the garlic and adding that as well.
  • Add the beef back in, along with the bay leaf and star anise, then stir everything together and season generously with black pepper.
  • Pour in the beer and stir everything together, scraping the bottom of the pan to reintegrate anything stuck. Bring the mix to a gentle simmer and leave it to cook slowly for at least a couple of hours, topping up with water if necessary.
  • When the beef is perfectly tender, add the cream and reduce further, until you have a suitably thick sauce to add to your pie once the pastry is ready. If necessary, season with salt.

How to make puff pastry

  • Start by adding a good pinch of salt to 400g plain flour, then add roughly water, bit by bit, mixing it into the dough by hand until the dough can be formed into a smooth, but relatively firm ball, then knead for a couple of minutes, dust with flour, wrap in clingfilm and place into the fridge to rest.
  • Once rested, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it as squarely as you can until it's roughly 3 – 4 mm thick. Trim any particularly rough edges. You'll be folding the dough over repeatedly, so a relatively neat and tidy shape will help. Don't worry about losing a little dough here and there. This recipe is designed to leave you with a little excess.
  • Slice the butter thinly and layer it over half the dough, then fold the remaining half over the top and gently press down.
  • Dust the dough and the work surface with a little flour and roll the dough out in one direction, lengthening and flattening it.
  • Fold the dough over again, bringing it back to a squared shape, then roll it out again, this time along the opposite axis.
  • Repeat this process at least 4 or 5 more times, then fold the dough into a square, dust with flour and wrap in clingfilm, placing it again into the fridge to rest.

Putting the beef and ale pie together

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180c.
  • Take the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a dusted work surface until you have a thin piece of dough big enough to cut two rings for the top and bottom and one long strip for the side. The exact size of these will depend on your mould.
  • Grease your cake mould with a little butter, then line the bottom with one ring of dough, followed by the side. Keep the remaining ring of dough covered to the best of your ability to save it from drying out.
  • Poke a few very small holes in the bottom of the pie, then line the inside with greaseproof paper or foil and pour in your rice and dried beans. Or simply use baking beans if you have them available.
  • Cook the pastry for about 10-15 minutes or until it stiffens slightly without picking up too much colour. You want it stiff enough to support the weight of the pie mix when you add it to the case.
  • Remove the rice and the foil and remove the pie case from the mould, then spoon in your pie mix and layer the final piece of pastry over the top. Poke another few holes and very carefully flip the pie over onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Brush the pie with beaten egg all over and place it in the oven to cook until coloured at about 200c. This will take roughly 20 – 30 minutes, but I recommend checking on the pie every 10 minutes or so.
Keyword beef and ale pie, beef and ale pie recipe, beef pie, beef pie recipe, how to make puff pastry, making puff pastry, puff pastry pie, puff pastry pie recipe

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