This beef pot pie takes inspiration from Beef Wellington – a wonderful celebration dish that tends to be eye-wateringly expensive as it uses a very large piece of fillet steak. The filling here is made with less pricey braising steak but the resulting pie is wonderfully rich and special enough for any occasion.
The pie filling is essentially a beef stew, cooked long and slow so that the meat is meltingly tender. I decided to ring the changes and use puff pastry instead of my never-fail Pâte brisée crust (which would work wonderfully here) and I have to say that puff pastry is certainly a little trickier. I would advise you use pastry lids with a generous overhang on your pies as the pastry tends to shrink a lot. Do not overfill the pie dishes either – if the filling sits too close to the pastry it will not ‘puff’ properly.
If you can’t be bothered with pastry, puff or otherwise, the filling can be served with mashed potato instead.
Makes 6 individual portions
900g braising steak, diced into bite-sized pieces
4 tbsp plain flour
12 slices smoked bacon, chopped
480ml | 2 cups hot beef stock
240ml | 1 cup red wine
4 tbsp dried wild mushrooms, soaked in 240ml | 1 cup boiling water
(reserving the mushroom ‘stock’)
6 banana shallots, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g | 9 oz chestnut mushrooms, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
Dash Worcestershire sauce
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Olive oil, as needed, to fry
Salt and pepper to season
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp milk to glaze
About 400g | 14 oz all-butter puff pastry (or see recipe below)
1. Trim the beef of any large fat pieces. Season liberally with with salt and pepper. Add the flour and toss the meat to coat.
2. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Fry the meat for a couple of minutes until browned. Do this in batches – if you overcrowd the pan the meat will ‘sweat’ instead of browning. Set the meat aside.
3. Add the chopped bacon in the hot pan and fry until slightly crisp. Set aside.
4. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan with a little olive oil. Turn the heat down and fry for a few minutes until softened.
5. Strain the wild mushrooms, reserving their liquid. Pat dry and chop finely.
6. Add all the mushrooms to the frying pan (adding more oil if necessary) and cook for a few minutes. Add the thyme leaves, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.
7. Transfer all of the ingredients to a large pot and add the stock, wine and mushroom liquid. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has cooked off.
8. Cool, check the seasoning add the chopped parsley. Divide the filling among 6 small ovenproof dishes (or 4 larger ones) filling about 2/3 of the way.
9. Pre-heat oven to 200°C | 400F. Roll out your pastry to at least 5mm thick and cut out rounds large enough to cover dishes with a generous overhang. Brush the edges of the dishes with the egg wash, then place pastry lids on top pressing slightly to seal edges. Brush the top of the pastry lids with the egg wash and pierce a couple of holes using a chopstick for the steam to escape.
10. Bake on top of a baking tray to catch any spillage for about 40-45 minutes. Cool for ten minutes before serving.
Rough puff pastry
Makes about 600g | 21.2 oz
250g plain flour
250g cold unsalted butter, diced
1 tsp salt
About 125ml | 1/2 cup ice-cold water
1. Put the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the diced butter and pulse briefly a few times until the mix resembles large breadcrumbs.
2. Put the flour mixture in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the cold water and use your hands to form a rough dough. Pat into a square, put in a food bag and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Lightly flour your worktop and rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a long rectangle roughly twice as long as it is wide. At this point the dough will be quite brittle with pea-sized pieces of butter clearly visible. As you start rolling and folding it it will become more elastic.
5. Fold one third of the pastry into the middle and remaining third on top to make 3 layers (as you would fold a business letter).
6. Flip the dough over. Turn it so the folded edges are at the sides and repeat process of rolling out and folding (steps 4 and 5) three more times. If the dough becomes sticky and butter starts to soften too much then cover and put in the freezer for 10 minutes before rolling out again.
7. Put the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or ideally longer (overnight is fine). Repeat the rolling out and folding step one last time before rolling out to use.