“Wednesday night was pie night for Gary growing up, but I think this pie recipe is just perfect for a Friday night extravaganza. Using beef skirt gives a ridiculously tender filling, and adding a cheeky grating of Cheddar that melts under the short, crumbly pastry as the pie cooks makes this a really phenomenal eating experience. ”
Place a large casserole pan on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of oil and the butter. Peel, finely slice and add the onions, then pick, finely chop and add the rosemary and thyme, along with the bay leaves. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the onions are soft and turning golden, stirring occasionally.
Slice the beef into rough 2cm strips, then clean and slice the mushrooms. Add both to the pan along with the tomato purée and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Stir in the balsamic, stout, flour and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the meat is tender.
Meanwhile, for the pastry, put the flour and a good pinch of salt into a bowl with the suet, cube and add the butter, then use your thumb and forefingers to rub the fat into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Slowly stir in 125ml of ice-cold water, then use your hands to gently bring it together into a ball, but don’t overwork it. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for later.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
Ladle the stew into pie dishes – you can make a collection of small pies, or one or two larger ones – then finely grate or crumble over the cheese.
Roll out the pastry on a clean flour-dusted surface, so it’s slightly bigger than your pie dishes. Eggwash the edges of the dishes, then carefully place the pastry on top, trimming off any overhang. Pinch the edges to seal.
Decorate the tops with any offcuts, if you like, then brush with a little more egg. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the pastry is beautifully golden. Delicious served with steamed seasonal greens.