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Steak and ale pie

(Serves six)

1½ kilo stewing beef
4 tbsp seasoned flour
2 tbsps olive oil
2 onions, thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
25-cl bottle Lacto stout
Beef stock
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
175 g butter or margarine
350 g plain flour
250 g dark mushrooms, thickly sliced

Trim all the fat and sinew from the beef and cut it into two-centimetre cubes, then roll it in seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Heat the oil in a pan and, working in batches, fry the meat until it is browned all over. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onions to the pan and fry until starting to soften, then add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the Lacto and enough beef stock to cover the meat, then add the thyme, bay leaves and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to barely simmering, cover the pan and cook for about 1½ hours, or until very tender, stirring from time to time. Alternatively, cook in a 180˚C oven. Leave to cool.

Put the butter, a pinch of salt and 125 ml of water into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the flour all at once and beat it until smooth. Form it into a ball, cover the pan and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Cut off and reserve one third of the pastry and roll the rest to line a23-centimetre deep pie plate. Don’t worry if the pastry breaks, it’s easily patched, but make sure there are no holes. Stir the mushrooms into the meat, then using a draining spoon, transfer the meat to the pie plate. Add a little of the juices and keep the rest for gravy. Roll out the rest of the pastry, top the pie and pinch the edges together.

Brush the pie with beaten egg, make a hole in the centre for the steam to escape and bake for about 40 minutes until it is a rich golden brown. Serve with the gravy and some crinkly green savoy cabbage.

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