Winter is approaching, the nights are coming in and everything is starting to seem that bit more chilly and miserable on the weather front. It’s that time of year where I crave the more traditional dishes; pies, stews and all things braised. This homemade Minced Beef and Mushroom Pie ticks several boxes – it’s comforting, filling and full of pastry. Perfect colder weather food.
When you’re out and about, it’s fairly rare to see a Minced Beef pie on the menu. More commonly you’ll see something along the lines of “Steak and Ale” or “Steak and Kidney”.
Now I like a steak pie as much as the next non-vegetarian, but the best kind of cut to use is braising steak.
The problem with braising steak is that it takes a while to cook – literally hours. This pie filling on the other hand is far quicker and a bit cheaper.
If you’re not a fan of pastry or need to avoid it for any reason, don’t worry. Make the filling roughly as I’ve detailed below, but put it in an oven proof dish and top with mashed potatoes. Hey presto, you’ve got a Cottage Pie!
No, really. Just use 500ml of stock and simmer it to a rich thick sauce, don’t let it get as dry as you will for this one. If you wanted it to be a Shepherd’s Pie instead, swap the minced beef for minced lamb and add a touch of rosemary.
To the mushroom haters out there, I’m sorry. I love the things and think they’re excellent for bulking out meat based dishes like this. Which means there’s an awful lot of them in here. Hence the title!
For this Minced Beef and Mushroom Pie recipe you will need a pie tin or plate. I used a sloping sided enamel tin with an 18 cm base. I’m sure you can make it in other dishes, but the enamel tin helps the pastry to get crisp.
A Note on The Pastry
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; don’t be afraid of pastry. I break all the rules and still come out with something I like to eat.
This isn’t “all butter”; it’s half butter and half margarine. I like the texture it gives in the finish (it reminds me of my Nan’s pastry) but I also think it makes the pastry easier to work.
I don’t chill my pastry in the fridge to start with either. I make the pastry and roll out it, line the dish and then put it in the fridge. At this stage the pastry is more delicate because it’s warmer, so you do need to be a little more careful with it. But the world won’t end if you do it this way.
To roll your pastry out, split the dough roughly, with one piece being just over half the mass. Aim for a 60/40 split. The larger piece is for the base of the pie, the smaller for the lid.
Roughly shape the dough into a round. Start on the far side and work your way towards yourself, tapping the length of the rolling pin on the dough and making little grooves. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the tapping. Do this until the pastry has roughly doubled in size.
It’s a much gentler way of starting off the rolling process and this way you’re not pulling at and stretching the dough from the start.
Because I’m not interested in having to return to rolling out pastry after the filling is in the dish, I also roll the lid out at the same time.
Simply transfer it to a clingfilm covered plate, cover it in clingfilm, then plonk it into the fridge with the lined pie tin. Why the two layers of clingfilm? It makes the whole thing easier to handle and move when you’re ready to assemble the pie. It also means there’s zero chance of your pre-rolled pastry sticking to the plate.
To Finish and Serve
Once the filling is cooked, it needs to cool. That means this pie is great for advanced prep. You could make the filling a day or two before, if you really wanted to.
At the end, assembly requires little effort.
Pour the filling into the lined tin. Run a bit of egg wash around the pastry rim before laying the lid over the top. Firmly press the pastry edges together to seal, then trim the excess pastry from the edge.
Crimp the edge as you like, egg wash the surface and cut a couple of steam vents into the lid.
Job done, it takes about 5 minutes.
Serve this with any veggies you like; I usually go with a potato of some sort, broccoli, carrots, parsnips. That sort of thing.
On the other hand, go full on “northern” and serve it with chips and extra gravy. It’s a carb fest, but it’s a deliciously comforting carb fest. In these pictures I’ve used McCain Skin on Fries, because McCain make chips better than I can.
Homemade Minced Beef and Mushroom Pie
This dish is proper comfort food for the colder months. Minced beef, mushrooms and an onion gravy get caught up in a shortcrust pastry case and baked til golden. Delicious!
Course: Main Course
- 450 g Beef Mince
- 2 Medium Brown Skinned Onions, Skin Removed, Chunkily Diced
- 250 g Chestnut Mushrooms, Cleaned, Cut into Wedges
- 1 1/2 tbsp Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- 1/2 tsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- 1 x 400ml Beef Stock (Recipe Pictured Used: 1 Knorr Beef Stock Pot)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 300 g Plain Flour
- 75 g Butter, Cold, Cubed
- 75 g Margarine
- 2 tbsp Cold Water, to Bind
- 1 Egg, beaten with a splash of milk (Egg Wash)
- In a large pan on a medium hot heat, fry the beef mince until browned.
- Add the diced onion, frying for a further 2 or 3 minutes, until the onion has started to soften.
- Add the mushrooms, frying until the mushrooms are cooked through but still have a bit of bite to them – roughly 5 minutes.
- Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of plain flour to the pan, mixing thoroughly to ensure no pockets of flour remain.
- Add 400ml of beef stock, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce and half a tablespoon of tomato puree. Mix well.
- Simmer the beef mixture on a medium hot heat until the stock reduces. This will take about 10 minutes and you’re looking for the sauce to be very thick and very reduced. You’re aiming for the sauce to act as a coating, rather than a rich loose gravy.
- Once the meat mixture has reduced, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool fully.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour with the cold diced butter and margarine. Using your fingertips, gently but briskly rub the fat into the flour until it’s incorporated well and there are no obvious large lumps of butter left.
- Add just over a tablespoon of cold water to the flour mixture and using a rounded knife give it a brisk stir in one direction. The flour will begin to clump together. If it looks very dry, add a little more water.
- Using your fingers, bring together the dough. Don’t be afraid of being firm with it, but be purposeful and quick. Once you have a ball of pastry, split it into two portions, one slightly larger than the other (60/40).
- At this stage you can either tightly wrap the pastry in clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge until you’re ready to roll it out. Or you can roll the pastry out, line the tin and then leave that to rest in the fridge.
Rolling Out the Pastry
- Place the larger portion of dough on a well floured surface. Roughly shape the dough into a round.
- Start on the far side and work your way towards yourself, tapping the length of the rolling pin on the dough and making little grooves. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the tapping. Do this until the pastry has roughly doubled in size.
- Gently roll the pastry out to a circle large enough to cover the base of your pie dish.
- Carefully roll the pastry over your rolling pin and use it to lift and position the pastry on your pie dish. Lightly press the pastry into place along the bottom and sides of the tin.
- Using the same method, roll out the second portion of pastry to a circle large enough to cover the top.
- If rolling out the pastry before chilling: Place the pastry lid on a clingfilm covered plate. Cover both the lined tin and the pastry lid with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until ready to use.
Assembly and Baking
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F) for fan assisted, or 200 C (400 F) for a standard oven.
- Fill the pastry case with your cooled filling, smoothing out the surface with the back of a spoon. Brush the exposed rim of pastry with egg wash.
- Carefully lift and position the pastry lid across the top of the filling. Press down firmly at the edges, creating a good seal between the top and bottom layers of pastry.
- Trim off the excess pastry and crimp the edges in whatever way suits you best. Brush the top liberally with egg wash then cut two steam holes into the centre.
- Place the completed pie on a baking tray and into the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 160 C (325 F) for fan assisted, or 180 C (350 F) for a standard oven. Cook for a further 45 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Trimming Pastry: Balance the pie on your non dominant palm, supported by your fingertips. Using a sharp knife, follow the edge of the pie plate to cut away the excess. Angle the blade at around 45 degrees away from the centre. The bottom of the knife will be closer to the centre of the pie and the tip of the knife will be pointing away from it. As pastry will shrink when cooked, this method of trimming will give you little more pastry on the edge.
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