This has to be one of the most Classic British pie fillings. Season generously to give the pie extra flavour – keep tasting the filling until you are happy with it.
up to 4-5 tbsp sunflower oil
200g smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into 1cm strips
2 medium onions, peeled, halved & sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
850g good quality braising steak, fat & gristle removed, cut into 2.5cm cubes
500ml bottle of real ale (I use Newcastle Brown Ale, but I am a Geordie)
500ml good beef stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp creamed horseradish sauce (optional)
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stalks & finely chopped
2 bay leaves
250g small chestnut mushrooms, wiped & halved or quartered
2 tbsp cornflour
500g ready-made puff pastry
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the bacon and onions until pale golden in colour and then add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Transfer the contents into an oven proof casserole dish using a slotted spoon.
2. Season the steak with salt and pepper and heat 1-2 tbsp of oil to the frying pan and add the steak, you may have to do this in batches. Fry the meat until it is well browned all over. Add more oil if necessary. Transfer the steak to the casserole dish.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Deglaze the frying pan with half of the ale. Bring the ale to the boil and stir hard to remove all the sediment from the base of the pan. Pour this over the steak and then add the remaining ale, stock, tomato puree, horseradish and herbs to the dish. Bring to the boil and then cover and place in the oven, cook for 1 ½-2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Mix the cornflour with 2 tbsp of cold water and add to the casserole. Put the dish back in the oven uncovered for a further 5 minutes or until the juices are thick. Season to taste and allow to cool.
4. In the meantime turn the oven up to 200°C/Gas 6. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms over a high heat for about 5 minutes until golden and add to the meat. Spoon all the contents of the casserole dish into a 1.2 litre pie dish.
5. Roll out the pastry on a well-floured board and brush the edge of the pie dish with egg. Place the pastry gently over the filling and press the edges firmly to seal. Trim the pastry neatly and decorate the top with the excess pastry and brush with the beaten egg to glaze.
6. Place the dish in the centre of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.