Hello Dear Reader,
A very Happy New Year to you and best wishes for 2014!
It is a tradition here in Scotland to have a huge steak pie for dinner on New Years Day – probably an attempt to soak up all that alcohol consumed on Hogmanay (New Years Eve)!
This is followed later by a big pot of tea with various kinds of cake and shortbread.
Here is my twist on the Scottish steak pie tradition – a steak and stout pie.
Steak and Stout Pie recipe
200g pancetta, cut into cubes about 1cm square
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1kg stewing steak. cut into cubes about 1inch square
500ml stout (e.g. Guinness)
200g shallots, peeled
3 carrots, chopped into chunks
1 bouquet garni
½ pint beef stock
500g puff pastry
Pre-heat oven to moderately hot (200ºC, 400ºF, Gas Mark 6)
1) Fry the pancetta in a dry frying pan, over a medium-high heat, until golden and crispy. Set aside to drain off excess oil.
2) In the same pan, fry the onion over a low-medium heat until soft. Add to the pancetta to drain off excess oil.
3) Mix together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the beef cubes in the seasoned flour to cover each piece.
4) Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add some beef cubes, shaking off excess flour before placing them in the pan, to sear on all sides for about a minute until browned. You need to do this in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan, otherwise the beef will stew rather than sear. A good guide is to leave at least 1cm space around each cube of beef. Place each batch in a large casserole dish. You may need to add more oil to the pan between batches.
5) De-glaze the pan with the stout and add into the casserole dish with the shallots, carrots, onion, pancetta and bouquet garni. Stir and add enough beef stock to cover everything.
6) Cover with a lid and bake in pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and then turn temperature down to 150ºC and cook for a further 2½ hours.
Every 45 minutes, stir the casserole and top-up with remaining beef stock if becoming too thick or sticking to the base. Remove from oven & transfer to a large pie dish.
7) Roll out the puff pastry and use to top the pie. Brush with egg wash or milk. Bake in a moderately hot oven (200ºC, 400ºF, Gas Mark 6) for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is beautiful golden and risen.
Note that steps 1-6 can be done in advance and then the stew stored in the fridge for a couple of days, or the freezer for up to three months. Defrost overnight before continuing with step 7.
Of course, being Scotland, it is obligatory to serve the steak pie with mashed potato – and no extra veg! In fact Mr Vohn will be heard muttering about carrots having no place in a New Years Steak Pie – this is the only day of the year I let him get away with no vegetables on the side!
The steak pie will be followed by a selection of cakes, usually Black Bun, cherry cake and sultana cake, along with Scottish shortbread. Black Bun is a very dark fruit cake encased in pastry – great on a cold dark Hogmanay night – but a bit too rich for me for after New Years dinner. I am also not particularly enamoured by sultana cake but I always make sure we have cherry cake and shortbread. This year we received plenty of shortbread in our Christmas hampers, so my grandson and I made cherry cake together, using Delia’s recipe.
I hope you had a wonderful New Year, dear reader, and here’s hoping 2014 is full of great health and happiness for us all!
P.S. I am entering my Steak and Stout Pie into the Credit Crunch Munch bloggers challenge run by Camilla at Fab Food 4 All and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, with Camilla hosting this month. Since the stew part of this dish is slow-cooked for hours, it means you can get away with a cheap cut of meat that will still end up meltingly tender!