Tag Archives: slow cooked

Beef and Ale Pie

This is a classic recipe – beef and ale are a perfect combination, and make for a wonderfully rich and delicious pie filling. We’re using shin of beef here, which can be a bit tough if you don’t cook it nice and slowly, but it’s absolutely packed with flavour. We had no worries about cooking it too fast as we stewed it over a whole weekend – about 12 hours altogether – in our slow cooker, but you don’t have to be that leisurely! It’s served with some deliciously mustardy leeks and lovely kale.

Ingredients for 2 people:

  • 250 g shin of beef (or any other diced cut of beef)
  • 500 ml dark ale
  • 100 ml beef stock (use a whole stock cube)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 5 pickling onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 small turnips
  • 3-4 new potatoes/1 large potato
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250 g puff pastry (we used shop-bought pastry that we keep in the freezer)
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 100 g shredded kale
  • Seasoning

Pie Veg Chopped

This has to be one of the easiest recipes ever – to get the filling going, cover the beef in the flour, and then put all the ingredients up to the bay leaves into a large casserole dish (or better yet, a slow cooker), bring to the boil and then turn down to a very low heat for at least 3 hours – the longer the better! Stir it occasionally and make sure that it doesn’t reduce too much – you want it to be a silky consistency.

Silky Pie

Once the filling is cooked, you can optionally take out the meat and pull it apart, to ensure it is spread evenly throughout the pie.

Meat Pulled Apart

Roll out your pastry so that it will cover your pie dish – it should be about 1 cm thick. Brush around the edge of your pie dish with a bit of beaten egg to ensure the pastry sticks. Put your filling in the dish and lay the pastry over the top, trimming any excess and pressing around the edges with a fork to make sure it sticks down. Brush the pastry with egg for a nice golden colour – we mixed our egg wash with a bit of mustard, which was amazing! Make a hole in the middle of the pastry with a knife to let any steam out. Put this in the oven for about 20 minutes at about 180 ºC, or until the pastry is golden-brown.

Pie Before

Pie After

To cook the leeks, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the leeks. Once this has started to sweat down, add the mustard and continue to cook until they’re completely softened. Braise the kale along with a bit of seasoning.

Pie Done

If you’ve timed it right, everything should come together perfectly! Serve with a pint of good ale.

Ultimate Comfort Chilli

We made this dish at the weekend, it was the perfect cheer-up food after a rain soaked Saturday. The smell of it cooking away slowly in the oven was incredible, you have to be very patient!

There are so many recipes for chilli con carne around, this one wasn’t particularly planned, we tend to throw in what we have lying around for a lot of our cooking so feel free to replace things if you don’t like that particular vegetable/spice or if you don’t have it in.

Ingredients (makes enough for 4-6 people):

  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • smoked pancetta (you don’t have to add this but it creates a gorgeous base of smokeyness)
  • 500g good quality lean beef mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • ½tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tins/cartons of chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1 tin of kidney beans in water
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • around 30g of really good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • rice and sour cream to serve

If you wanted to make a vegetarian version of this dish one obvious substitution would be the meat for Quorn (other brands are available!), but we think it would be more interesting not to take the easy route and to bulk it out with lovely, meaty mushrooms and extra beans instead – some black eyed beans and/or pinto beans would make a lovely addition. To get more of the rich flavour without using beef stock cubes you could add a teaspoon of Marmite – it may sound odd but it gives that deep, savoury kick which you might miss otherwise.

Perfect for practising those knife skills.
Perfect for practising those knife skills.

To start with soften the onion, garlic and celery in a large casserole dish over a low heat, cook for at least 10 minutes but try not to get much colour at all on them, you want them to soften and sweeten. Add the diced smoked pancetta, we used barely any in this so you could leave it out if you wanted to but it definitely adds a little something! Fry this for a few minutes until it has lightly cooked and become fragrant and then add the beef mince, breaking it up with your fingers as you put it in. Immediately add 200ml of beef stock (use a whole stock cube to make it) – by not browning the beef off you’re making sure it cooks really slowly and melts in your mouth. Now it’s time to add your herbs and spices! The amounts listed above are a guide, obviously adjust to your own chilli preference and remember you can always add but you can’t take away. We were a little cautious at first and then added more about halfway through the cooking time.

Kidney beans

Once you have stirred the herbs and spices in add the chopped tomatoes followed by the pepper and kidney beans, give it a good stir, bring to a very gentle simmer and then pop in a really low oven (around 130°C) and leave alone for at least an hour. Cook for 3 hours minimum stirring every hour until you can’t take it any longer and have to eat some!

Right before serving place a couple of squares of dark chocolate on top and drool as they melt into the chilli. Don’t worry, this won’t add any sweetness, just the most fantastic, rich flavour.

Resist the urge to put your face in it...
Resist the urge to put your face in it…

Serve with rice and sour cream and if you’re feeling fancy (we were) some homemade guacamole.

We made a really simple guacamole by mixing 1 ripe avocado with a good pinch of sea salt, 1 diced tomato and a big squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Give it all a mix up and you’re ready for your Mexican feast!

... Now you can put your face in it!
… Now you can put your face in it!

This was the perfect meal to sit down to and ignore the rain lashing at the windows – warming, comforting and pretty healthy too.