This is a steak, ale, and chorizo pie. Gaze longingly upon it, and know that you can’t have any because I’ve already eaten it. Long ago, back when I last made a post in this blog, I promised to one day divulge the secrets of pie-making. The stars are aligned, the nights are drawing in, and all the greenery is falling off the trees and turning the colour of a lightly-baked Gregg’s steak slice. It is time. Let’s talk ingredients.
600g(ish) stewing steak – there are essays written on the best meat to use for pies, and the answer is always the same; use the worst, toughest, fattiest meat. The pie-process will do amazing things to them that you could never imagine being done to a so-called “prime” cut. It needs to be cut into what you might term “lumps”.
Some carrots – two biggish ones, or more than that if they’re smaller. It’s not rocket science.
Two red onions’ volume of shallots – If we’re all being perfectly honest, shallots are just onions with ideas above their station. So you can use shallots, or actually red onions are just as good. Fuck you, shallots, I’m calling you out, you rugby-ball-shaped motherfuckers.
Herbs and that – Herbs and that are essential for adding subtle nuances to the big, beefy, sausagy flavour you’re about to create. Also, nobody can be taken seriously as a chef without using some herbs and that. The following herbs and that will come in handy: rosemary, thyme, a few cloves of garlic. You’ll also need things like oil, butter, and sugar, the kind of thing that I shouldn’t have to tell you you need in your kitchen in the same way that I don’t have to tell you to wear underwear. Please, wear underwear. Especially if your jeans are too loose. You know who you are.
500g(ish) Puff pastry – You can make your own, it’s far far easier than you’d think. If this is your first pie, though, stick with the shop-bought stuff. In the UK, every supermarket you can think of will sell pre-made pastry in the fridge cabinet with the butter and stuff. In the US, apparently you can only buy it frozen, and they make it with the vile concoction that is high-fructose corn syrup, so it’s a real pisser to work with. Plan accordingly, and leave the country.
Chorizo – Some. You want a piece about the length of a typical breakfast chipolata. Probably a bit more, because you’ll accidentally eat some while you’re working.
No celery – What the hell, man? Every British savoury pie recipe I read calls for celery. Fuck you, celery. You manage to simultaneously taste of nothing and taste vile at the same damn time. Fuck you, celery. Prick.
A pint of beer – You might be prepared to use any old shit if you’re cooking, but you’re wrong. Remember, if you’re not prepared to drink it, don’t be prepared to force your dinner guests to eat it. Of course, knowing the tramp’s wee some people I know are prepared to drink, that don’t say much.
Cooking Time: 20 minutes divving around, a two-hour transatlantic Skype call, another 20 minutes of divving around and then an episode of acclaimed BBC / HBO drama Parade’s End.
Melt some butter in a decent-sized casserole pot or similar. When it’s bubbling, throw in all your veg and your herbs and that. When they’re all golden and softening, throw in your beef and make sure it’s sealed. Once you’re done with that, throw in everything else that isn’t pastry or chorizo. A good slosh of hot, spicy-based thing (Worcester sauce, paprika, that kind of thing) and also sweet thing (I’d recommend a dark sugar, or possibly honey, though I’ve never tried it with that) needs throwing in there too. Maybe a bit of tomato puree or something. Drop the heat, stick on a lid, and go place your Skype call. Stir occasionally.
Once the Skype call’s over, take the lid off and stick Parade’s End one in the background. While you’re yelling at the TV for Benedict Cumberbatch to just give in to his emotions, ditch his horrible wife and go off with that girl who’s perfect for him, roll out the pastry. Line a pie dish when it’s quite thin. If it’s too thin, you’ll know because it’ll fall apart in your hands. If it’s too thick, you’ll know because you won’t be able to see over it. Look, you’ve eaten pies, you know how thin the pastry should be. Keep the spare, you’ll need it.
Get out a frying pan and heat up some oil while you slice your chorizo. Eat a couple of lumps of chorizo while you’re thinking about what to do next. God, that stuff’s good, isn’t it? Quick, chuck what’s left in the pan and seal it before you eat the lot. Give it a few minutes on each side, so that the tasty orangeness starts to ooze out.
Your pie filling’s ready now, so throw it in the lined pie dish, leaving enough of a lip to use to seal the lid together in a minute. Dot your bits of chorizo on top of that, and then lie some more pastry on top for your lid. Crimp it together with the lip of the bottom part (or, in plain English, squish ’em together). Brush it with beaten egg or milk (milk also works well as pastry cement if bits are falling off). You have a pie! Top work!
If there’s any spare pastry, you can write thing on your pie, like I did, imaginitively writing the word “pie”. Bang it in an oven that’s about 180C for half an hour or so. Eat it with mash. Gloat about it to your friends.