So it's done. Christmas is officially finished. The boys are back at school, the tree is bound for the recycling and our truckle of cheese is on its final legs. For two weeks we resumed our perch on the family tree and stayed there, like dumpy birds, being fed and watered by doting grandparents.
And so to January where darkness still arrives not long after lunch and the family still need feeding, just perhaps not so often.
Here a recipe for the ultimate steak pie. The meat wallows in a sea of ale, chestnut mushrooms and sweet carrots for 3 hours before being baked with a sweet celeriac mash. My tip would be to invest in good quality beef and brown the meat over a high heat first, rather than just colouring it as this adds a far superior flavour. Though the most vital is long, slow cooking until the meat falls apart under the fork and you’re left with a spectacularly gelatinous juicy gravy.
STEAK, THYME & ONION PIE WITH CELERIAC MASH
PREP TIME - 30 MINUTES + 3 HOURS SLOW COOKING
COOK TIME - 35-40 MINUTES
600g braising steak, excess fat removed and cut into bite-size chunks
2 tbsp. flour
250g small chestnut mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced thickly
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 onions, halved and sliced
2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 2-3cm crescents
2 sticks celery, cut into 2-3cm crescents
300ml brown ale
400ml beef stock
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. English mustard
FOR THE MASH
1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 3-4cm cubes
3 floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-4cm cubes
75ml semi skimmed milk
A knob of butter
1. Preheat the oven to 160C, fan 140C.
2. Start with an empty, deep casserole pan and add in the beefsteak. Sprinkle over the flour and give the meat a good stir until the flour disappears from sight.
3. Next add in the remaining ingredients needed for the filling; the mushrooms, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, ale, beef stock, thyme and mustard. Again, give everything a good stir so they are evenly distributed and season well. Pop the lid on and put the casserole in the preheated oven for 3 hours, occasionally stirring to make sure the bottom isn’t catching or adding a little water if you think the mixture is becoming dry.
4. Remove from the oven and allow your pie filling to cool. Transfer your stew to a 1.5 litre, ovenproof dish.
5. While the stew is cooking, make your mash. Simply empty the celeriac and potato into a large saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are completely tender. Drain and mash, stirring in the milk and knob of butter. Season to taste.
6. When you are ready to cook your pie preheat the oven to 180C. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is crusty and golden brown and the filling is bubbling below. Garnish with a little fresh thyme before serving.