One of the best ways of conjuring a memory is with the help of food. A meal can have the special ability to transport you back to a place and time and can even go as far as to symbolize a feeling. My trip in 2014 to London was definitely bittersweet – I was finally spending time with my SO after 4 months in Barcelona, but minutes before getting on the plane from Spain to the UK, I got a call that absolutely broke me: my grandmother had passed away. Nonetheless, we soldiered on to London, were it probably seem grayer than usual to me. It was freezing and damp and I didn’t really feel like doing much considering the circumstances. The sun finally came out (metaphorically, of course) during our last day in London when we stepped into a pub, ordered a tall pint of Guinness and a steak and ale pie. It sounds odd, but the flavors reminded me of my Abuela’s empanada gallega, with the same meaty flavors and flaky crust. It was a sign.
I was missing Abuela recently, so I decided to recreate the steak and ale pie topped with cheddar, with a side of mushy peas: frozen peas sautéd in some bacon fat with salt and pepper, and then mashed with a back of a fork or in a food processor.
Steak & Ale Pie with Cheddar
4 1/2cupsall-purpose flour
2 1/4stickscold unsalted butter (or 18 tbsp), plus extra for greasing
3/4cupice water, plus 1-2 tbsp extra
1egg yolk, beaten
4tbspgrated white cheddar
Steak & Ale Filling
2cupschopped red onion
4garlic cloves, minced
1cupquartered cremini mushrooms
2.25lbsstewing beef, cut into 1" cubes
1 1/2tspdried rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/4cupdark ale beer, such as Guinness
1 1/2cupslow sodium beef broth
Use a food processor to pulse together flour and salt. Then, add butter and pulse until completely combined. Gradually add in ice water until a soft dough comes together.
Knead the dough, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Steak & Ale Filling
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until fragrant and softened. Stir the garlic, carrots and mushrooms into the pot.
Toss beef cubes in the flour, removing any excess flour. Add the beef, rosemary, bay leaves, worcestershire, salt, and pepper to the pot and stir, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Pour the beer and beef broth into the pot, and extra water if needed to cover the beef.
Bring the beef to a simmer, cover and cook on medium low for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. The beef should be tender in a thick dark sauce. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside uncovered.
Assembly & Baking
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Transfer your dough to a work surface and roll it out to 1/8" thick. Cut out 8 larger circles (big enough to line your muffin tin or molds with a little bit of overhang) and 8 smaller circles to top you pies.
Use butter to grease your tins and then flour them, shaking off any excess flour. Press the larger circles into the bottom and side of each mold. Add the steak filling to each mold to the very top, making sure to not add to much sauce (this would make the pies soft and soggy). Top each pie with the smaller dough circles, pinching the edges along the rim of the pie to bring together the sides and top.
Brush the top of the pies with the beaten egg and sprinkle on about 1 tsp grated cheddar. Bake for about 28-30 minutes, until the crust in golden and crisp and the cheese is lightly browned. Carefully remove each pie from it's mold once cool enough to handle by gently twisting the pie until if becomes loose. Serve and enjoy.