Sunday, 10 November 2013

Beef Pie with Quick Flaky Pastry

In a previous post I talked about how I like to use leftovers in a variety of ways to create meals for my family.
Pies are a great way to make something tasty out of food that you might have remaining from a previous meal. By making a simple sauce and including a few vegetables, you can transform what otherwise might lurk around in the fridge until you inevitably end up throwing it away. For example, if I have some of the meat leftover after making a roast chicken, I use the bones from the chicken carcass along with a few basic vegetables to make a stock from which I make a tasty sauce into which I put mouth-sized pieces of the chicken meat and add a few sautéed mushrooms or leeks.  I then pile this into a pie dish and top it with flaky, puff or shortcrust pastry and bake in the oven.
The pie recipe that I give here uses up some of the Beef and Guinness Stew that I have previously written about. It really does make a delicious pie and is so simple to make.
You can use shop-bought puff or shortcrust pastry and whilst it is a bit of palaver to make authentic puff pastry at home, shortcrust pastry is quick to make and home-made tastes so much nicer that the mass-produced versions that are available in the supermarket. To be honest, I prefer to use a puff or flaky pastry when making savoury pies, but that is just a personal preference. The whole point is that with a little planning it is actually far simpler than you might think to create tasty nutritious meals rather than resorting to ringing the take-away or sticking a ready-meal in the microwave.
Given my liking of puff pastry but my hatred of the time that it takes to make puff pastry, I was delighted to discover this recipe for quick flaky pastry many years ago. I can’t remember where I got it from, but I suspect that it may have come from a “Delia” book!


225g plain flour
155g butter, put in freezer to get really cold about an hour before you want to make the pastry
4 tblsp very cold water
1 egg beaten with a fork


1. Put the pastry into a large bowl. Using the coarse side of a grater, grate the cold butter into the flour. Do not rub in the butter but make sure that it is gently mixed through and coated in the flour. Add the water and bring everything together until it just forms a bowl. You will still be able to see flakes of the butter in the dough, but don’t worry this is the way that it is meant to be. Briefly knead on a lightly floured work surface.
2. Wrap the ball of pastry in cling-film and leave in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
3. To make the pie, preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas Mark 6.
4. Pile your pie filling into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry until it is about 5mm thick, working it as little as possible.
5. Cut a thin strip of the pastry, about 1.5cms wide and place on the rim of the pie dish. Put a thin strip of pastry around the rim and using a pastry brush, paint with a little of the beaten egg. Next place the rest of the pastry on top of the pie and the pastry rim. Trim with a knife to give a neat finish and crimp the edges. Any leftover pastry can be quickly cut into leaf shapes and used to decorate the top of the pie.
6. Place in the preheated oven for approximately half an hour until the filling is piping hot and the pastry risen and golden on top.

Serves 4