This is by special request.
750g chuck steak. I use steak from Yare Valley Oils Belted Galloways or Beautiful Beef in Tharston Red Polls. All herds are free-range, ethically raised and slaughtered locally. I say that because some of my friends are very sensitive to animal welfare and not that excited about me eating meat. I live with a vegetarian and so meat doesn’t figure that high on our menus. However I am happy with my conscience knowing that I have incisors (therefore I am a meat eater) and I won’t buy cheap mass-produced meat, preferring to know its provenance.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, chuck steak.
750g chuck steak. Two medium sized onions. One large knobbly carrot. One stalk of celery. Two cloves of garlic. A teaspoon of cumin seed. The remainder of a bottle of red wine (about 100ml), Gremolata Beef stock (in my world, that’s Oxo), half a tin of chopped tomatoes, a little cornflour (this is made from maize, not wheat!), black pepper.
Cut your steak into medium sized pieces and put in a bowl. Add a good tablespoon of gremolata and a good few churns of the pepper grinder, add the cumin. Drop in a couple of bay leaves. Add two tablespoons of cornflour and mix around to coat the meat.
Chop your celery into fine dice and your onions into slices and your large knobbly carrot into moderate sized pieces. Put a big glug of oil into a pan (I use the le Crueset I’m going to use for the meat) and bring it to a moderate heat. Add the vegetables and sweat them slowly and gently with the lid on until soft. Remove vegetables from the pan and scrape around the bottom of the pan a bit. Add a little more oil. Get it hot then drop in about 30% of the pieces of meat and sear it till it gets brown. Don’t overfill the pan otherwise it will just steam and it will go grey instead. Remove meat from the pan and add to the vegetables. Repeat until all the meat is browned. turn up the heat and add the red wine so that it bubbles and boils, boiling away the alcohol. Keep scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan as it boils. Then take off the heat and add the meat and vegetables, turning them round in the winey sludge at the bottom. Put back on the heat and add the tomatoes and sufficient stock to cover the meat. Bring gently to the boil with the lid on, then turn the heat down and simmer for a good 2 hours. Or you can put it in the oven. Then allow to cool. Check the seasoning to see if you need more salt. After it has cooled down, if you are making it ahead of the game, put in the fridge and take out the next day and allow to come to room temperature before you put into the pie.
For the pastry. Use 250g gluten-free flour (plain white, or plain wholemeal) and 120g Flora or similar. Half a teaspoon of salt. Rub the fat into the flour then add sufficient water to bring the dough together. Then leave the dough for half an hour. Put your meat and its gravy into a dish and if you have one, add one of those pretty little pottery birds in the middle – the ones that let the steam out!
Wet the edges of the dish. Roll out your pastry making it a good 2cm wider and longer than the dish. Cut long strips off the pastry and lay along the dampened edges of the dish. Then roll the pastry onto your pin and roll it over your dish, making a little hole for the birdie’s beak to poke through. press the edges down, then glaze either with egg wash or with soya milk mixed with a little custard powder or turmeric. Believe me, it works!
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190C for about an hour, turning down to 160 and maybe protecting the top with a bit of tin foil, after 40 minutes. Depends on your oven.
What can best a good pie, with mash and gravy?