This isn’t your 2am, on the way home, gluey gravy and chalky crumbs in the back of a taxi steak and cheese pie. Neither is this some sort of gourmet, gilded gold leaf monstrosity. It takes a little bit of time, but for the someone, who’s closest dairy or bakery is at least 16,000 km away, this brings a little slice of home to the big city.
Steak and Cheese (slow cooked beef and cheddar)
- 1 kg beef (I got about 1.1kg of beef shin on the bone from my local butcher, they’ll chop it up for you but if you’ve found this recipe you’ll probably do it yourself – 20 mm slices or “chunks”)*
- 1 Tbsp. Cumin (ground)
- 1 Tbsp. Smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp. Dried oregano/or mixed herbs
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 Tbsp Flour
- 1 large Onion (I used red)
- 2-3 cloves of Garlic
- 500ml of Beef Stock
- 1 sachet of Gelatin
- 500ml of porter/stout (I used M&S(meantime) London porter)
- 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 1 Tbsp. Marmite
- 1 Tbsp. Soy sauce (light)
- 1 tsp. Fish Sauce
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Cornflour
- 1 Tbsp. Honey
- 500g rough puff/puff pastry
- 1 egg
Sort out all your shit before you get started, preheat your oven to 165c, boil your kettle if you’re using a stock pot or cube, peel your onion and garlic, get rid of the skins, get everything out to hand. Get a big mixing bowl out for your beef, and smaller bowls for the other ingredients.
I use a cast iron dutch oven so I can throw it straight in the oven, if you don’t have one start it off in a large pot then transfer to some sort of vessel that you can cover. You could cook the whole thing slowly on your hob but you won’t get even & gentle heat distribution or the ability to brown it all at the end.
*You don’t have to go to a butcher, I do, mines cheap, but any chunk of supermarket slow cooking beef you can get will work, ideally find something with some fat in it, that’ll render down as you cook.
And as Uncle Paul always taught me, you should always have at least 3 cans of beer before you start cooking.
Filling: (I never said this would be quick)
- In a bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and mix to combine. Get the dutch oven on the hob – medium heat.
- Trim off any fat but don’t chuck it away! Dice up beef in to 20mm chunks
- Throw that beef fat into the cold dutch oven with some olive oil and let it slowly render for 5 or so minutes, you won’t eat it but you’ll get the flavour!
- Add beef to bowl and toss to coat.
- If you’ve used the fat trimmings, they should have shrunk, and slightly browned, you can discard or let cool and offer to your four legged friend. Splash more olive oil (or oil of your choice – but not coconut)Add beef to dutch oven, one layer at a time, you want to brown the beef on all sides.
- You’ll have to crank the heat up slightly, as the beef will bring the temperature of the dutch oven down a bit.
- As each batch of beef is browned, transfer to a plate or bowl near by.
- By the time you’ve browned all the beef (including the bone), there should be a layer of browned bits and flour. Add a splash of water and watch it bubble! Use a wooden spoon to scrape off all the bits and mix with the liquid. Transfer to where ever you’ve left your beef.
- Veges! Add a bit more oil to the oven and get those onions on, use a medium high heat and keep stirring for about 8-10 minutes. To speed up, add a splash of water every time to start stick, they’ll fry and steam and caramelise.
- Add garlic, cook for 2 miuntes, until it starts to colour.
- I usually mince it up using a pinch of salt and the side of my knife (Rick Stein mincing garlic)
- Add tomato paste, cook for about 4-5 minutes – stirring until there is a brick red hue to the mixture.
- If it starts to stick add a splash of water.
- You may still have the bowl you mixed up the flour, spices and beef. If there is anything left in that scrape it out into the dutch oven.
- Add back in all your Beef and any juices, herbs and bay leaf – mix around throughly.
- LIQUIDS. Beef stock, in case you’re one of those fancy pants people who buys those big sachets of the lumpy jelly filled stuff (or you make your own – good for you), you’ll be using one of those little stock pots or cubes. Make up 500ml or so of that stuff and dump in the gelatin, stir it up. Once dissolved, add to the rest. Take a bit of time to think about it all. Then get your wooden spoon and make sure you scrape any bits stuck to the bottom.
- The point of slow cooking beef is to break down the fat and sinew in to delicious gelatin. By adding extra gelatin to the stock you’ll end up with gravy which will have a deliciously sticky consistency.
- FLAVOUR BOMBS. We’re going to get this as savory as we possibly can. So add the Marmite, fish sauce, Soy & Worcestershire sauce in and give it a stir.
- MORE LIQUIDS. Open that beer, have a sip. You should already have a drink on the go but go on, just a sneaky sip then add it in.
- Add in that honey, it’s going to be so savory that I add a little bit of honey or brown sugar to give it some balance.
- Taste it, TASTE IT NOW. Add salt and pepper. Always add salt and pepper, probably more pepper that salt, because beef and pepper is good.
- Finally (for now) mix a Tbsp. of cornstarch and a Tbsp of water and mix into a slurry (wetter and looser than a paste)
- This will help thicken it up later
- STIR AGAIN, make sure there are not any bits stuck to the bottom of the dutch oven, you’ll feel them. If there are scrape them off, there’s enough liquid to help.
- Lid on. Oven it. 2.5 hours. Go do something else like wash up all your other mess. Check in an hours time and give it a stir.
- Lid off. Back in the oven.
- This is where the roast beef flavour will come from, the top will brown and the beef will get a bit of a char.
- STIR. TASTE. More salt and pepper? Probably. Season to taste.
- Remove the bone, if there is any marrow still there, scoop it out and mix it in. (Discard the bone and sinew/fat or let cool and give to your furry friend.
- Let cool, discard that bay leaf. Always make pies with cool fillings, otherwise they’ll ooze out too quickly.
Preheat your oven to 180c
Pastry. Remember that flaky/rough puff and a bunch of butter in it. The longer you have it out and the more you touch it, the more it’ll melt.
Work quickly, don’t dick around, use enough flour when rolling out so it doesn’t stick.
- Crack an egg in a bowl and whisk it up
- Roll out your pastry (if you haven’t got pre rolled sheets)
- Flip your greased pie dishes (or dish) upside and trace a couple of millimeters around from the dish with a knife. Lids first. Always.
- I like to go 100% flaky/rough puff for my pies. Mainly because I don’t want to make two different types of pastry. And I’m greedy. If you do the lids first, you can re roll the excess into another sheet (just make sure you layer then in the same direction) and use that for the bases.
- Roll out and cut out bases, use the dishes (or dish) as a guide, go about 30-40mm out from the dish so you have room to let it sag.
- Fill. It’s not time to be stingy. make it level with the edge of the dishes (or dish)
- CHEESE. Grate up the cheddar and toss it with some cornflour.
- Brush the edges with egg and get that lid on.
- Trim around the edges. Depending on how much you have left over, you could re-use it!
- Seal them edges. Use you thumb, or a fork, or the back of a spoon.
- REST. Give them 30min – 1hr in the fridge to help the pastry cool down.
- Glaze. Use a brush (mines a small painters brush from poundland) and eggwash the top.
- Sprinkle any toppings over, Sometimes cheese, sometimes dried herbs, sometimes cracked pepper.
- BAKE. 180c. 25 – 30 minutes-ish. Until golden on top. If you put your ear up to it you can hear it bubbling away.
- Wait for a bit, they’re actually thermonuclear (Safer Communities)