Baby it's cold outside . . . so welcome to a warm pie embrace! a traditional steak and ale pie

steak and ale stew
What could be more welcoming on a cold wet autumn night than a beef and ale stew? Actually, a beef and ale pie is even better. I think my love for puff pastry is well-known and the combination of light, buttery and crisp puff pastry with an intensely savoury stew is richly satisfying; a perfect homely pie to banish away the drizzlin' blues.

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 stew

ready-made puff pastry
1 x egg, beaten with a little milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Fill an ovenproof dish with the steak and ale stew. It will need to be piled "high" in order to support the pastry.
  3. 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).
  4. 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!
  5. Dampen the pastry strips if using.
  6. Drape the pastry over a rolling pin and then roll it over the filled dish.
  7. Press the surfaces together to form a join between the pastry strips and the pastry lid.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!)
  10. Prick the pastry with either a fork or a sharp knife (to allow steam to escape).
  11. 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).
  12. 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.
  13. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown on top.
  14. 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. 


Patricia (La Chatte Gitane) said...

Rachel has given me ideas for a Boxing day Christmas feast !
Pies like your steak and ale pie or chicken pie are so quintessential British and I just might be tempted to make a buffet style dinner for friends and family. These pies will be a welcome treat here in Belgium.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Glad I could have been of help! It does have a real feel of tradition about it . . . but a turkey and ham pie might be a good bet too. Whatever you decide, the beauty is that they can be made and frozen in advance :)

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

am getting well into pie mode so this sounds delicious. Have you tried Dan Lepards ale-crust potato pasties they are heaven sent on a dish.

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

Salisbury's? I agree... when it comes to puff, buy it... your pie looks bloody gorgeous!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

thank you guys!

BTW when I saw Dom's comment about "Salisbury's" I thought WTF? I hadn't realised it was my typo. Doh . . . and then the shame of it . . . a lovely chap at the real Sainsbury's let me know (very sweetly I might add).

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Rupert (or "Algarve" as my friend Heathcliffe has taken to calling you!) - haven't tried Dan Lepard's recipe but since he has never bowled me a wrong 'un I think it is on my to do list!