This hearty pie makes a supper for a winter evening. We like it served with baked potato and steamed curly kale. The filling makes a great casserole on its own if you are trying to cut down on the carbs. The ingredients below make enough filling for two pies - I always cook in large quantities and freeze half, it's so handy to have easy suppers ready in the freezer. So much nicer than a horse lasagne! The pastry doesn't keep so the ingredients below are for one. I have tried making and freezing these pies with the pastry already on but it's never as nice and the pastry is so easy there's not much point.
The key to success is long slow cooking of the casserole, this means you can use cheaper meat that has a higher fat content which stops the meat from drying out. You really do need to cook it for a long time to enable all the fat to melt out of the meat though. If you cook it faster and at a hotter time you'll run the risk of the meat drying out.
Filling / casserole (for two pies):
1kg stewing steak, large cubes (2 - 4cm)
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped into 1cm pieces
6 onions, roughly chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
8 mushrooms, sliced
2 handfuls button mushrooms
beef stock cube
2 cans beer (not lager!)
tbsp tomato puree
Suet Pastry (for one pie):
225g self raising flour
110g vegetable suet
Make the filling,
Fry the onions and bacon in a large casserole dish on the simmering plate (for agas) or over a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring often, then add the mushrooms and stir in the flour. Meanwhile brown the steak in batches in a frying pan. Add the steak to the casserole dish and then the carrots, stir. Add the beer and watch it froth! Stir in the stock cube and tomato puree. Add water if necessary - most of the ingredients should be submerged with just a few bits poking through. Cook in the bottom of the aga overnight. Last time I did this I cooked it for 20 hours; the meat was so tender.
If you want to make your pie immediately then put the filling into your pie dish and freeze the rest. If you are going to assemble the pie later put the dish in the fridge when cool enough. Don't assemble the pie until you actually want to cook it, suet pastry doesn't like hanging around!
Make the pastry,
Put the flour and suet in a bowl, stir. Gradually add cold water, stirring after each little addition, until all the flour is incorporated and you have a single blob of rather sticky pastry. Take care as the pastry can easily get too wet if you add too much water! Then put the pastry onto a floured board and stretch to shape. No need to roll. Moisten the edge of your pie dish and put the pastry on top. It should look rustic and bumpy rather than smooth. Make a little hole in the middle and even up any big lumps and bumps with your fingers. Cook in the top oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the pie is sizzling. Serve immediately!