|steak and ale stew|
While I don't think that "life is too short to stuff a mushroom" as Shirley Conran famously, if foolishly, said, I do think there are other culinary-related scenarios where I would rather use the time spent doing something else . . . making two courses instead of one, baking a loaf of bread or just chatting to friends and quaffing more wine.
Puff pastry is one of those things. I can make it but I would rather use a good ready-made version. In this case, Sainsbury's have a ready-rolled ready-made version. And very nice it was too; beautifully buttery and browned to perfection. (And at £1.25 excellent value as well).
Use your favourite beef stew recipe, or (please, please, please) my beef stew cooked with Guinness.
Skill level: Easy
steak and ale stewready-made puff pastry
1 x egg, beaten with a little milk
- Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
- Fill an ovenproof dish with the steak and ale stew. It will need to be piled "high" in order to support the pastry.
- Brush the edge of the dish with water. (You can also cut thin strips of pastry - about 1 cm wide - to go around the rim of the dish. For 900ml pie you will need about 4 to 5 strips).
- Roll out the pastry using as little flour as possible and place over the dish. Since I was using ready-rolled pastry this was unnecessary!
- Dampen the pastry strips if using.
- Drape the pastry over a rolling pin and then roll it over the filled dish.
- Press the surfaces together to form a join between the pastry strips and the pastry lid.
- Trim off any of the pastry overhanging around the edge. Press down with the back of a knife to seal. Crimp to decorate the rim of the pastry (using the back of a knife to "knock up" the edge, or using the tines of a fork to press into the pastry or using your fingers to create a twisted rope effect.
- Use the trimmings to decorate the top of the pie. (Making pastry leaves is usually a quick and easy decoration to make - good for those of us with less-than-artistic abilities!)
- Prick the pastry with either a fork or a sharp knife (to allow steam to escape).
- Brush the top with a glaze made with the beaten egg with a little milk. (The milk prevents the glaze from becoming too brown in the oven).
- Brush the pastry top thoroughly with the remaining beaten egg (mixed with a little milk) and place the dish on a baking tray in the oven.
- Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown on top.
- Serve with buttery mashed potato and green vegetables - peas or Savoy cabbage would be my choice!
- After glazing, sprinkle over some finely grated Parmesan cheese or fresh thyme leaves.
- To freeze, make the recipe up until the point were the pie is glazed and before baking. Wrap the uncooked pie in greaseproof paper and freeze. When using - thaw at room temperature. Glaze the pastry and cook as above - although it may take another 5 to 10 minutes longer to cook.