Its National Pie week this week (6th March - 12th March) and with Sue being a 'Northern Lass' its a highly celebrated week in the Tranter household (although I don't really notice a difference from a normal weeks menu!)
We've all got a favourite Pie: Sue's is Steak and Kidney whereas mine is Steak and ale and it turns out these are the two most popular pies in the UK according to a survey by 'Jus-Rol'. According to their findings 30% of us favour Steak and Kidney and 26% of us Steak and ale, 25% Chicken and mushroom, Chicken and leak 9% with vegetable (8%) and game (1%) bringing up the rear.
A few more Pie facts for you:
- The Romans used pastry shells as a baking dish in which they would cook their meats, fish and vegetables, serving it in this to keep everything in place. The pastry was often tough and inedible and therefore the rich would eat the contents of the pie and give the servants the pastry to eat.
- Did you know Shakespeare killed two of his characters off by baking them into pies? In Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare's first tragedy), Titus Andronicus takes revenge on Queen Tamora and her family for their evil deeds by baking her sons into a pie and serving it to her. (Even Sue wouldn't eat that one!)
- The annual World Pie Eating Championship takes place at Harry's Bar in Wigan and has been going since 1992. Originally contestants had to eat as many pies as possible in a given time limit, however this changed in 2006 to meet the governments' healthy eating guidelines. Contestants now have to eat a single pie in the least amount of time (we're thinking about entering Sue)
So to celebrate pie week here's my favourite recipe for Steak and Ale Pie. Feel free to share your recipes and comments (or any Pie facts you might have!)
Steak and Ale Pie Serves: 6
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 800g Diced Braising Steak
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 300ml Ale
- 400ml beef stock
- 2 tsp light brown muscovado sugar
- Bunch thyme or rosemary
- 2 carrots, cut into chunks
- 200g button mushrooms
- 500g shortcrust pastry
- Milk for brushing
- Heat half the oil in a large saucepan and cook the diced steak for about 5 minutes until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the onions and bacon for about 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute then stir in the ale, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the stock, sugar, herbs, carrots and browned meat and any juices, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer very gently for 2 hours until the beef is tender.
- Preheat your oven to 220ºC, gas mark 7. Stir the mushrooms into the filling then transfer to a 25cm pie dish with a pie funnel in the centre. Dampen the rim of the pie dish with a little water. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and place over the filling. Trim the edges, pressing down well, and make a hole in the centre of the pie to fit over the pie funnel, then brush all over with milk. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30 minutes until the pastry is dark golden. Serve with mash and steamed greens