British Steak and Ale Pie

Janette Fuschi | Culinary Ginger
Yum

Steak and ale pie is a British classic found at most pubs around England. Serve it with pea and chips for sopping up all that delicious gravy.

British Steak and Ale Pie Photo

Being British means loving a good savory meat pie, and nothing is better than a steak and ale pie. Tender beef is braised with onions, carrots, ale, beef stock, fresh herbs and Worcestershire sauce then a flaky, buttery crust is filled and the pie is baked until golden brown. Best served with real British chips and peas.

Meat pies are popular pub grub and perfect comfort food. The filling for this pie only uses onions and carrots, but you can fill meat pies with anything you like, root vegetables, mushrooms or peas, whatever is in season.

What gives this pie its rich, characteristic richness is the use of ale. Good, dark brown English ale is a must to get a deeply infused flavor. Braising the beef in the ale and other ingredients makes it beautifully moist and tender that comes together to make a delicious, saucy filling.

British Steak and Ale Pie Picture

The pastry is just as important as the pie filling so they come together as the perfect marriage. This pastry recipe is my go-to for all my pies, like this minced beef and onion pie, as well as homemade sausage rolls recently featured on Food Fanatic.

An easy alternative to hand mixing the dough is making it in the food processor. This serves two purposes. It’s quick and easy (we love that), and by not using my hands, it prevents the cold butter from warming up.

The key to perfectly flaky pastry is keeping the butter cold from beginning until it goes into the oven. Another point I’d like to make I do not like a soggy crust. There’s nothing worse than lifting a slice of pie from the pan and the bottom falls out, but I have a fix for this. It’s called blind baking the crust.

British Steak and Ale Pie Image

Blind baking is a ‘pre bake’ of the bottom crust in the pan without filling. It is weighted down with dried beans to keep it from puffing and it baked until crispy, this way, you are not putting the filling on top of raw dough which doesn’t have a chance to bake and crisp up.

This pie is by no means diet-friendly, but everything is good in moderation because this is British comfort food at it’s best. But it doesn’t stop there; this pie is just a delicious warmed up the next day. Just put the leftovers in a 350°F degree oven, uncovered for 20 minutes and this will heat it through and get the crust nice and crispy.

You can find more of my British recipes around Food Fanatic

British Steak and Ale Pie Recipe

    8 Servings

Ingredients

For the Pastry:
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour, Plus extra for rolling out pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups Unsalted Butter, 3 stickes, cubed and kept cold until ready to use
  • small pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 cup Cold Water
  • 1 Egg, Beaten-to brush on pastry
For the Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 2 pounds Beef Chuck, Or brisket, cut into bite size cubes
  • 1 medium Onion, Chopped
  • 2 large Carrots, Cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup Dark English Ale
  • 1/2 cup Beef Stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme, Finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, Finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Egg, Beaten
  • Dried Beans

Directions

For the Pastry:

  1. To a food processor add the flour and salt and butter.
  2. Pulse until you get the texture of fine breadcrumbs.
  3. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in cold water until it forms a ball.
  4. Remove and shape into a ball on a floured board.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 320°F.
  2. Add the vegetable oil and butter to a large, heavy, ovenproof saucepan or braising pan over medium high heat.
  3. Add the beef and cook, turning the pieces until brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  4. To the same pan, add the onion and carrots and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and tomato paste, stir to mix well and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well until all the flour is well mixed. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the ale and stir until it starts to thicken.
  7. Stir in the beef, beef stock, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  8. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour until the meat is tender.
  9. When the meat is done remove from the oven.
  10. Turn the oven temperature up to 425°F with rack in the center of the oven.
  11. Lightly butter a 9 or 10-inch pie dish.
  12. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Wrap one half back in the plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  13. Roll out the other half onto a floured surface to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch.
  14. Cut a circle from the dough 1/2 inch larger than your pan and place into the pie dish allowing the edge to hang over.
  15. Cut a large circle of parchment paper or foil larger than the pan or and place on top of the pastry in the pie dish.
  16. Pour the beans to the center to weigh down the dough and bake for 12 minutes until you start to see the edges get a little golden brown.
  17. Remove from the oven, grab the corners of the paper or foil and remove the beans.
  18. Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork to prevent it puffing. If it puffs, it should go down.
  19. Return the crust to the oven for 5 more minutes to cook the bottom of the pastry.
  20. Once the crust is out of the oven take the rest of the dough and roll out onto a floured surface and cut a 10-inch circle.
  21. Fill the cooked crust with the beef filling.
  22. Brush the edges of the cooked pastry with the egg.
  23. Roll the pastry circle over your rolling pin, lift and place on top of the pie, pinch the edges or press with a fork.
  24. Brush with the egg wash and cut a couple of slits in the center of the crust.
  25. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

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Janette Fuschi

About Janette

Janette is a British ex-pat living in Southern California. On her blog, Culinary Ginger, you'll learn all about it. On Food Fanatic, you'll see her favorite British classics, and ours too!