Meltingly tender chunks of Northumbrian beef slowly cooked in Alnwick Ale and topped with a golden puff pastry crust – what could be better to come home to as the nights start to draw in ready for the cold season?!
I’ve created this traditional dish using local ingredients as part of the Waitrose #AutumnWarmers campaign which is celebrating quality food and delicious warming dishes from across the UK. They wanted me create a dish that really expresses where I live, and really one of the first things you think of in the North East is pies. The climate is a little on the wild side up here, so a good rich and warming pie is frankly essential if you want to survive the changing of the seasons.
Keep it local
We’re lucky enough to have Nicholson Butchers on our doorstep in Whitley Bay, who have been trading on Park View for over 100 years. Their lamb and beef is all Northumbrian and they are proud to be able to trace all their meat from field to fork. It’s a proper local gem, with an in-house bakery and an impressive offering of fresh vegetables, sauces and chutneys.
The beer i’ve used to cook the Northumbrian steak is Alnwick Ale…. light amber in colour, with a floral hop aroma and refreshingly bitter finish. Obviously it’s gorgeous to drink, but it leant the stew a delicious flavour that wasn’t as intense as the darker ales I would normally use for a recipe like this.
The ale is an ancient recipe from Alnwick, but sadly hasn’t been produced there for 50 years. However the reformed Alnwick Brewery Co is hoping that production can soon return to Alnwick with the development of a new brewery and distillery in the town.
Obviously you can hunt down your own regional ingredients to make this steak and ale pie local to where you live, whether it be the butcher down the road or farm shop it’s always satisfying to know your meal hasn’t had to travel too far to get to the table.
Northumbrian Steak and Ale Pies
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 3.5 hours
500g Stewing Steak, cut into 4 cm chunks
3 tbsp plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 beef stock gel pot/cube
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 tsp horseradish sauce
For the pie crust
ready rolled puff pastry sheet
1 egg, beaten
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Toss the chunks of beef in a bowl with the flour and seasoning.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large flameproof/ovenproof lidded casserole dish over a medium heat and in batches brown the beef, removing to a plate as you go along.
3. Add a little more oil if necessary and then soften the onion and leek for a few minutes. Add the beef back to the casserole dish along with with all the remaining ingredients, give it a good stir, place the lid on and bring it up to the boil, then transfer into the oven and cook for 2.5-3 hours.
4. Spoon the beef casserole into little pie dishes. Cut your puff pastry sheet to fit the tops of your pie dishes, place on top and prick with a knife to let the hot air escape when cooking. Glaze with beaten egg before returning to the oven and baking at 220C/200C fan/gas 7 for 20 mins until golden and bubbling.
5. Serve with steamed greens and a glass of ale!
Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Waitrose who supplied me with vouchers to fund the cost of making this recipe and gifted me with some wine for my time.