I’ve been seeing a snippet on the food network cooking channel on TV in which one of the chefs made a beef and oyster pie. Well, this really intrigued me, I mean, how delicious does that sound! Nothing as good as real pub-grub.
I’ve managed to see bits of this filler programme about four or five times now, not enough of it each time to be able to write the whole recipe down, but it still started up a craving for beef and oyster pie in me like you won’t believe. So eventually I just decided to wing it, and make up a recipe along the same lines.
I duly defrosted the stewing beef one evening, then forgot to put it on to cook early enough in the evening, for it to be finished by bedtime. So out came my slow cooker, the stew got fried up in my cast iron pot, then tossed into the slow cooker bowl, and left on low all night. Next morning, I stirred in the tin of smoked oysters, let the bowl cool a bit and shoved the whole thing in the fridge shortly before I galloped out the door on my way to work (late as usual).
When I got home in the evening, I made the short-crust pastry quick, added the cold filling, stuck the pie in the oven and YUM, YUM – it came out SO well, people!
Think crispy pastry, and a gorgeously rich, meaty gravy with just a hint of smoked oyster here and there. Oh it was so good, I NEED another piece right now!! The pie made enough to feed six, so we had the left-overs for supper the next night, too (score), and the pastry even retained it’s crispiness when heated in the microwave.
So, I have discovered a whole new trick to making pies, which I love to eat, but seldom make, because of the work (never mind the calories, but then, I’m not on diet right now!).
First, as said in that TV snippet, the filling for a pie should always be cold, this keeps the pastry crisp (it really, really does). And using the slow cooker overnight, and chilling the filling all day improved the flavours no end, besides being an awesome time-saver.
A light crisp pastry also depends on everything being cold. I usually avoid making pastry because ‘it’s difficult’, but if you use a processor, it’s really not. And if that’s all you have to do because half the work’s already done the night before, well then, a pie for supper is in easy reach! So here’s my recipe, as inspired by Ed Baines (I think that’s who it was).
Beef and Smoked Oyster Pie
500 grs beef, chuck or brisket are good, cubed
2 Tbsp flour, seasoned generously with salt and ground pepper
A little oil for frying
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery, with leaves, thinly sliced
1 bottle of beer
+/- ½ cup of stock (I used Ina Paarman’s roast onion flavour)
Few drops of Tabasco sauce
1 sachet of tomato paste
Salt and pepper, if needed
1 tin of smoked oysters
- Coat the meat in the flour, heat the oil in a large pot, and fry in batches until browned, remove from the pot, and set aside.
- In the same pot, fry the onions, carrots and celery until tender.
- Add the meat and any juices to the vegetables.
- Add the beer, stock, Tabasco, and tomato paste, stir well, and bring to the boil.
- Once the stew is boiling, spoon it into the slow cooker bowl, and leave to cook on low for 8 hours.
- Stir in the smoked oysters, check the seasoning, and place in the fridge to chill thoroughly.
- Once the filling is cold, make the pastry.
Short crust Pastry
400 grs cake flour
5 mls salt
200 grs butter, straight from the fridge, cubed
80 mls of iced water
- Place the flour and salt in the processor bowl, pulse a few times to mix.
- Add the butter and process to rough ‘breadcrumb’ stage.
- With the processor running, add the water slowly, you may not need the whole 80 mls.
- Process until the pastry just binds into a ball, and stop immediately. You don’t want to knead the pastry like bread dough.
- Turn the pastry out onto greaseproof paper, wrap it up and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Now assemble the pie.
Divide the pastry and set aside about a third of it. Roll out the bigger piece into a circle, and carefully pick it up by rolling in around your rolling pin, then unrolling it over your greased pie dish. Don’t stretch it, just gently tuck it into the dish.
Now add the filling. Roll out the second piece of pastry, and repeat the process over the top of your pie. Crimp the edges, and trim the excess pastry with a knife. Brush with an egg and milk wash, and make a small hole in the centre. Bake at 220°C for about ½ hour, until golden brown. And then – enjoy!!!
We had this with a fresh green salad, and it made a lovely filling meal, both times.