Steak, mushroom and ale pie with rarebit potato topping

The beautiful cheesy, mustardy rarebit topping adds a special twist to this classic steak and ale pie.  Husband and Teen thought it was ‘proper pub grub’ – their words, not mine! It’s meat and potatoes taken to a whole new level.  I made this as one huge pie but I think it would be really lovely made up into individual portion size pies.  Use the best quality beef you can find and try to use a nice mature cheddar or full flavour hard cheese for the rarebit topping.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

For the casserole base:

  • Sunflower oil for frying the beef and onions
  • 1 – 1.2 kg good quality casserole or stewing steak cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 onions roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 250ml ale (I used Spitfire as that’s what we had in the house)
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 2 tsp demerara sugar – the sweetness of the sugar cuts across the taste of the ale and adds to the overall flavour of the casserole
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Bovril (optional) – I use this to add extra meaty flavour
  • Large sprig of rosemary
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 -3 sprigs of thyme
  • 350g chestnut mushrooms, cut into large pieces or kept whole if using button mushrooms

For the rarebit potato topping:

  • 1kg potatoes thinly sliced – try to use waxy potatoes
  • 250g grated cheddar cheese
  • 5 tbsp ale
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 rounded tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C / Fan 140 degrees C / Gas 3.
  2. Using the sunflower oil, brown the meat in batches in a large casserole pan. Add some pepper as you’re browning the meat.  Remove meat and juices from the pan once browned and set aside.
  3. Add a touch more oil to the pan and add your onions, frying for about 10 minutes on a low heat until nicely softened.
  4. Now sprinkle over the flour and cook off, stirring for about a minute. You want the flour to brown a little so you know that it’s cooking off and you won’t have a raw, floury taste to your dish.
  5. Add the ale, beef stock, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Bovril (if using) and the herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Bring to a simmer and then cover and place in the oven for 1 hr.
  7. Remove after the hour is up, stir, add the mushrooms, taste and add more seasoning or a splash of Worcestershire sauce if needed. Place back into the oven for another 1 hr.
  8. Now to make your topping: peel and thinly slice the potatoes – I use a mandolin but you can either just slice them thinly using a knife or the large side of a box cheese grater. Watch your fingers!
  9. Meanwhile, remove your casserole filling from the oven, decant into an ovenproof pie dish (or individual dishes if using), and turn the oven up to 200 degrees C / Fan 180 degrees C / Gas 6.
  10. Add the potato slices to a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Boil for about 2-3 mins or until tender.  Drain and once cooled enough to handle, layer the slices onto the top of your filling.  Season between the layers.
  11. Place into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  12. Now make your rarebit topping: in a bowl, add the cheese, ale, mustard and Worcestershire sauce to the beaten egg and mix well.
  13. Once the 20 minutes are up, spread the rarebit topping onto your potatoes. Place back in the oven for a final 10 minutes or as long as it takes for the rarebit to go nice and golden brown.
  14. Serve piping hot with seasonal veg of your choice.

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