Tuesday, November 23, 2010

English Steak and Mushroom Pie

     I cooked thousands of these steak and mushroom pies, while I was a chef at an English Pub.  I also made a similar Steak and Kidney Pie entree.  English meat pies are definitely some fine comfort food!
     The Steak and mushroom pie in the pictures is a free standing pie that was made with a pop-ring mold.  You can use a conventional pie tin to make this recipe too.
     Many modern pubs simply bake this recipe in a crock with only a pie crust topping or puff pastry topping.  That version is not a true English meat pie in any way!  A long time ago, pie was originally a method of preserving food.  A pie from the early middle ages of history was made with a thick hard inedible crust that surrounded food like a modern tin can.  The food would remain edible inside the hard crust shell for days or weeks, depending on the temperature of the season.
      Later in history, pie crusts were made to be edible and they became part of the preserved meat filling meal.  Everywhere that pies were made, signature styles and textures of pie crusts were developed.  Irish pastry dough (flakey pie crust dough) is most often used to make English meat pies, but a French pate brisee yields a finer texture that is a bit more refined.
     Meat pie enthusiasts do prefer a meat pie to be surrounded with pie dough, just like old fashioned meat pies.  A free standing savory meat pie on a plate is a nice presentation in itself.  I did bake this pie a little bit on the light colored side, but the crust is fully cooked.  This was the first time that I have made one of these pies in a quite some time.  This entree looks a little bit better when the crust is baked to a light golden brown color.    
     Pate Brisee Recipe:
     Irish Pastry Dough (Flakey Pie Crust Dough) and Pate Brisee are nearly the same recipe.  The difference is that larger pieces of butter are added to Irish pastry dough and the dough is barely kneaded to create a flakier texture.  Pate Brisee has a finer flaky pie crust texture.
     Place about 1 cup of flour into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of sugar.
     Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk.  (The flour should look like grains of rice.)
     Cut 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
     Gently add a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time to the riced flour.
     Work the dough lightly with your fingers and for a minimal period of time leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
     Chill the dough, till it becomes very firm.
     Roll the pate brisee into a thin sheet on a floured counter top.  (The sheet of pate brisee should show streaks of butter!  This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
     Refrigerate the sheet of pate brisee, till it becomes firm again.
     Steak and Mushroom Pie Filling Recipe:
     Slice a 5 or 6 ounce piece of beef steak into bite size cube shaped pieces.  (Top round steak, chuck steak or sirloin steak is good for this recipe.)
     Slice 5 ot 6 mushrooms into wedges.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 4 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add the beef and mushrooms.
     Saute the beef and mushrooms, till they become browned.
     Sprinkle enough flour into the pan while stirring to soak up the excess grease and to form a pan roux.
     Stir till the flour combines and it is smooth with no lumps.
     Add 2 cups of  beef broth while stirring, to form a thin gravy.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of marjoram.
     Simmer and reduce the gravy, till it becomes a medium sauce consistency.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Allow the beef and mushroom mixture to cool to room temperature.
     Steak and Mushroom Pie:
     Line a small 5" buttered pop-ring cake pan (or a small pie tin) with a thin sheet of the pate brisee pie dough.    
     Trim the edges.
     Spoon the steak, mushrooms and gravy into the pie dough lined pop-ring mold.
     Reserve any extra gravy for later in the recipe.
     Cover the top of the pie with a thin sheet of pie dough.
     Trim the edges.
     Press the two pie dough sheets together around the edge of the pie to seal the pie, within the rim of the pop-ring mold.
     Press a fork on the pie edge to decorate it.
     Brush the top of the pie with egg wash.
     Cut two small slits on the center of the top of the pie, as steam vents.
     Cut a mushroom shape out of the excess dough.
     Place the decorative pie dough mushroom shape loosely over the steam vents, so the steam vents are partially covered.
     Brush the decorative pie dough mushroom with egg wash.
     Place the steak and mushroom pie on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 350 degree oven, till the crust becomes golden brown.
     Place the pie and pop ring mold on a plate.
     Remove the pop-ring mold and the pop-ring mold base.
     Reheat the reserved excess steak and mushroom gravy.
     Spoon the gravy around the pie onto the plate.
     Serve with asparagus spears and buttered thyme carrots.
     Delicious!  When the pie is cut open, a wonderful rich hearty beef and mushroom aroma fills the air! The steak is tender and the gravy has a rich mushroom flavor.  This is some good old English comfort food cooking!  ...  Shawna


  1. Hello, this recipe is so great, thank you for sharing, I gotta make this pie :D My question would be if you could tell how much the 5-6 ounce meat is in kilogrammes?

    1. Thanks!
      I have this recipe on my desk top list of recipes to edit, so I will do a final edit on this popular English style meat pie next.
      The answer to your ounce to gram conversion question is: 1 ounce=28.3grams. 5 to 6 ounces is a standard small portion of meat that is the size of a handful. 5 to 6 ounces = 142 grams to 170 grams.
      English weight measurements were actually imposed as a means of standardized trade a long time ago. At that time, most weight measured trade was precious metals and food stock. The English weight system is a natural for measuring cooking weights. For example: 1 tablespoon (1 half ounce) fits into the cupped palm of a hand.
      Tablespoons, teaspoons and cups are volume measurement and they are not weighed measurement. When baking, if you weigh the volume of flour in 1 even tablespoon, there may be some variation due to humidity and the settling of the flour in the tablespoon. That is why critical measurements in baking recipes are always weighed and not written by volume. Non critical baking measurements are usually written by volume.
      Small Volume Measurements:
      Small recipe measurements are measured in pinches. A pinch equals about 1/16 to a little less than 1/8 teaspoon or about .35 grams to .45 grams.
      1 teaspoon = 1/3 of a tablespoon or 1/6 ounce or 4.7 grams.
      1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce or 14.15 grams.
      Keep in mind that cooking is not a precision science. It is an art. Flavors change with the seasons and slight measurement adjustments must be made. Old classic French recipes were never measured and only descriptions were used. For example: A dash, a pinch, a small amount, a bunch, 1 small handful, enough to wet etc.
      Savory recipe measurements are usually precise approximations that are guidelines to achieve an ideal flavor or effect.
      Sweet and baking recipes are written precisely with exact measurements, yet adjustments must be made for environmental altitude, temperature and humidity.

    2. Thank you very much Shawna, and also thank you for the effort on this long and precise comment! I actually was in problem with the meat weight, as I know - as you said too, it's not easy to measure the things while cooking, only some basic ingredients. I agree, cooking is a kind of art. Well I'm a 19 years old Hungarian student, a fan of the UK, so I'm afraid this pie is a little bit forward comparing to my cooking skills :D Anyway I'll give it a try someday :) Thank you very much for the help!

  2. The recipe is for 1 pie right? :) I'm planning to make some tomorrow :)

    1. All my recipes are written for 1 portion, unless otherwise stated. Its easier for most people to add or multiply when in a hurry than it is to divide. People who live single get tired of dividing recipes to make 1 portion.

      There is always leftover pie dough from any pie dough recipe. It can be frozen. The pie in the photos is single portion. 5" wide x 2 1/2" deep.