This large well-flavoured pie can be made with a beef, game or venison filling, plus mushrooms. It is slowly cooked in half a bottle of red wine and topped with rough puff pastry, which is quicker, simpler and less rich than traditional puff pastry.
To make the rough puff pastry:
1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the pieces of cold finely diced butter and stir gently with a round-bladed knife until they are thoroughly coated in flour. Stir in enough icy water to bind the dough, adding it a tablespoon at a time. The dough should be lumpy, soft and moist but not sticky or wet.
2. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured worksurface and shape it into a brick by gently patting with floured fingers. Using a floured rolling pin roll out the dough (rolling away from you) to a rectangle about 45x15cm.
3. Fold the dough in three like a business letter: fold the bottom third of the dough up to cover the centre third, and then fold the top third down to cover the other three layers. Gently but firmly seal the edges by pressing down with a rolling pin. This is the first ‘turn’.
4. Lift up the piece of dough and give it a quarter turn anti-clockwise, so the folded edges are now at the sides. Roll out and fold in three again, just as before, then give the dough a quarter turn anti-clockwise, and repeat so the dough has been rolled out and folded up three times.
5. Wrap and chill for 20 minutes then do three more ‘turns’ so the dough has been rolled out and folded up a total of six times. Chill for 20 minutes before using.
To make the filling:
1. Toss the pieces of beef, game or venison in the flour mixed with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole or saucepan and quickly brown the meat in batches, removing the coloured pieces to a clean dish.
2. When all the meat has been browned, lower the heat and add the chopped onion, celery and garlic (if necessary add a little more oil to the pan) and cook very gently stirring frequently, until very soft – about 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Meanwhile soak the dried mushroom, if using, in a little of the measured stock or wine, and wipe the button mushrooms.
4. Return the meat and any juices in the dish to the pan and add the wine, stock and thyme plus the dried mushrooms and the soaking liquid (the button mushrooms go in later). Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pan and cook for 1 ½ hours stirring from time to time.
5. Add the button mushrooms and cook uncovered for a further half an hour or until the meat is very tender and the gravy thick and full of flavour.
6. Taste and add more black pepper if necessary - the gravy should have a warm peppery flavour.
7. Leave to cool then store, well covered in the fridge or freeze until needed.
To make up the pie:
1. Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to an oval about 7cm larger all round than your pie dish. Cut off a strip of dough about 1cm wide and long enough to fit around the rim of the dish. Dampen the rim of the dish and press the pastry strip of dough on to the rim, joining the ends neatly.
2. Spoon the filling into the dish, mounding it slightly and using a pie funnel in the centre if you prefer. Dampen this strip. Roll the oval of pastry around the rolling pin and gently lay it over the pie so it unrolls without stretching. Press the dough on to the rim to seal firmly.
3. Trim off the excess dough with a sharp knife – the trimmings can be used as decorations. The sides of the crust can be ‘knocked up’ with the back of knife held horizontally to make small knocks or cuts in to the side of the crust all around. The edge can then be fluted by placing two fingers on the pastry rim and gently drawing a small knife between them to give a scalloped effect. If decorating the crust with dough trimmings cut into shapes and stick them on with a little water or egg glaze. Make a small steam hole in the centre.
4. Chill while heating the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6.
5. Stand the pie on a baking tray, then brush with beaten egg to glaze and bake for 15 minutes.
6. Turn down the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is a deep golden brown and crisp. Serve hot.
The filling can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen, and the pastry made up to a couple of days ahead.
For the rough puff pastry:
225g Marriage’s Finest Plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled and finely diced
About 125ml icy water to bind
For the filling:
900g stewing steak, diced mixed game meat or venison
2 tablespoons Marriage’s Finest Plain flour
¼ teaspoon each salt and coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large stick celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, fined chopped
10g dried mushrooms (optional)
250g crimini or button mushrooms
½ bottle (350ml) red wine
350ml good game or beef stock
A sprig of fresh thyme
Beaten egg to glaze
A large pie dish about 1.25 to 1.5 litres