“In my mind, a pie isn’t really a pie without pastry on the top, sides and bottom – the filling should be enveloped by melt-in-the mouth crumbly, golden pastry to really hit that heavenly status. And, made with a good handful of fresh, fragrant herbs scrunched into the mix, this version really is incredible. Now, let’s talk filling: I’m using chuck steak and brisket here, which has a mixture of fat, making it good for stewing. Cook it until it’s dark and caramelised, as this colour will really bolster the flavour of your filling later on. Use quality wine to clean the pan and let it bubble away for a Marmite-like deep flavour and maximum deliciousness. ”
For the filling, slice the beef into 2.5cm chunks, then toss with the flour and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil into a large pan over a medium heat, add the beef and brown all over, then remove to a plate, leaving the pan on the heat.
Peel and roughly chop the onion, and trim and finely chop the carrots and celery. Add to the pan with the bay and cook for 5 minutes, or until starting to soften, adding a splash of water, if needed, then remove to the plate with the meat. Meanwhile, peel and chop the the potatoes into 1cm cubes.
Pour the wine into the pan, leave to bubble away and reduce by half, then add the cooked meat and veg back to the pan with the potato.
Pour in the beef stock, bring to the boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender, adding splashes of water to loosen, if needed.
For the pastry, put the flour and cubed butter into a food processor with a good pinch of sea salt, then pulse until just combined.
Pick and roughly chop the herb leaves, then add to the food processor along with 100ml of ice-cold water and pulse again until it forms a rough dough. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Once cooked, season the filling to taste and leave aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3 and lightly oil a 20cm loose-bottomed round cake tin.
Cut off two-thirds of the pastry and roll out on a clean flour-dusted surface to 2mm thick. Loosely roll the pastry around your rolling pin and unroll it over the cake tin, gently easing it into the shape of the tin. Patch up any holes and trim the edges neatly.
Spoon two-thirds of the cooled filling into the pastry-lined tin (freeze the rest and serve as you would a stew on another day) and crumble the Stilton on top. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg.
Roll out the remaining pastry so it’s slightly bigger than the tin, top the pie, crimping the edges to seal, then make a small incision in the centre for the steam to escape.
Use any spare pastry to decorate the pie, if you like. Eggwash the top of the pie, then bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the pastry is golden and the pie is piping hot.
Leave to stand for 30 minutes, then serve up – delicious with mash and steamed greens.