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
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
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C / Fan 140 degrees C / Gas 3.
- 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.
- Add a touch more oil to the pan and add your onions, frying for about 10 minutes on a low heat until nicely softened.
- 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.
- Add the ale, beef stock, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Bovril (if using) and the herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Bring to a simmer and then cover and place in the oven for 1 hr.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Place into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Now make your rarebit topping: in a bowl, add the cheese, ale, mustard and Worcestershire sauce to the beaten egg and mix well.
- 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.
- Serve piping hot with seasonal veg of your choice.