It might nearly be spring, but the weather is still pretty wet and cold, so comforting warming food is just what we need. I got the inspiration for this recipe when a friend of mine was telling me about the steak and ale pie she was making; I, of course, didn’t have any steak in the fridge but decided to make a pie using the things I already had on hand. I always keep a block of puff pastry in the freezer (ideal for whipping up mini quiches like these B&E Mini Pies for a picnic lunch or unexpected guests), and usually a packet of mince too.
I wanted this to be really hearty, packed with meat and flavour and not like one of those ‘disappointment pies’ you’ve probably picked up from a pie warmer, where the pastry is dense and there is more gravy than meat. I kept the cheese on the light side too, just enough for a flavour kick without overwhelming which is already a (let’s be honest) indulgent meal. I used water and stock cubes, however, if you wanted more of that ale flavour, just sub the water for beer, and dissolve the stock cubes straight in the pan. The mince mixture freezes well, as would the cooked pies. You could also use Texas muffin pans to make individual pies, I did consider doing this, but for me, cooking should be easy, and if I’m frank, I couldn’t be faffed mucking around with rolling out loads of mini pie cases.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- 500 grams premium beef mince
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- pinch chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 beef stock cubes
- 300 ml boiling water
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp BBQ sauce
- 300 grams puff pastry, thawed
- 100 grams of tasty cheese, sliced roughly
In a large saucepan brown mince on a medium to low heat. I don’t add any oil, instead, let the moisture from the meat do its thing. Use a wooden spoon to break up any clumps.
Peel onions, carrots, and garlic and use a food processor to chop finely. This helps it meld into the sauce. Add this to the browned meat, along with thyme, chilli flakes, pepper, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to low, and cook stirring for another few minutes.
Mix the beef stock cubes with the boiling water. Sprinkle the flour over the mince and stir in, then add the stock and BBQ sauce. Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes till the liquid has reduced and thickened.
Set aside to cool completely. This part can be done a day ahead if you wish.
Oil a pie dish, and preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius. Roll two-thirds of your pastry to fit the pie dishes base and sides. Remove the bay leaves from the mince mixture and fill it into the pie dish. Crumble the slices of cheese over the mince. Roll the remaining pastry to fit the top of the pie dish. Crimp the edges together with your fingers to seal the pie. Prick the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 25 minutes till golden and the filling is hot.
Allow cooling for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.