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Pub-Style Steak & Ale Pie


Intensely savory steak pie is a classic British comfort food, but making it can be a tedious multistep procedure. Our streamlined version has all the flavor and texture of the authentic article with less work. We skipped the traditional browning of the meat, which requires working in batches, and browned the mushrooms and onion instead, building a flavorful fond at the same time. Adding flour early in the process and limiting the amount of stock we added to the pot meant that the gravy formed as the meat cooked so we could bypass the usual sauce-building steps. To make sure the limited moisture didn’t mean limited flavor, we added bacon, garlic, and thyme. We substituted beer for some of the stock and boosted browning with the addition of a small amount of baking soda. Our unusual pastry dough includes an egg for added structure, which together with sour cream also contributed fat, allowing us to decrease the amount of butter. The resulting dough was sturdy enough to go over the filling while it was hot, but it baked up flaky and substantial, the perfect complement to the rich filling.

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  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushroom, trimmed, halved if medium or quartered if large
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • CRUST:
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, chilled
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 6.25-ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled


Servings 4
Preparation time 80mins
Cooking time 210mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Don’t substitute bone-in short ribs; their yield is too variable. Instead, use a 4-pound chuck-eye roast, well trimmed of fat. Use a good-quality beef broth for this recipe; the test kitchen’s favorite is "Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base." If you don’t have a deep-dish pie plate, use an 8x8-inch baking dish and roll the pie dough into a 10-inch square. We prefer pale and brown ales for this recipe.

Combine water and baking soda in large bowl. Add beef, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350°F.

Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over high heat, stirring occasionally, until partially rendered but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 cup broth and stir to coat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are reduced to about half their original volume, about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and thyme and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and fond begins to form on bottom of pot, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture and stir until all flour is moistened. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fond is deep brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in beer and remaining 1 1/4 cups broth, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in beef and bring to simmer, pressing as much beef as possible below surface of liquid. Cover pot tightly with aluminum foil, then lid; transfer to oven. Cook for 1 hour.

Remove lid and discard foil. Stir filling, cover, return to oven, and continue to cook until beef is tender and liquid is thick enough to coat beef, 15 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer filling to deep-dish pie plate. Once cool, filling can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days if needed. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.

While filling is cooking, measure out 2 tablespoons beaten egg and set aside. Whisk remaining egg and sour cream together in bowl. Process flour and salt in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until only pea-size pieces remain, about 10 pulses. Add half of sour cream mixture and pulse until combined, about 5 pulses. Add remaining sour cream mixture and pulse until dough begins to form, about 10 pulses. Transfer mixture to lightly floured counter and knead briefly until dough comes together. Form into 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Roll dough into 11-inch round on lightly floured counter. Using knife or 1-inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Drape dough over filling, it’s okay if filling is hot. Trim overhang to 1/2-inch beyond lip of plate. Tuck overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of plate using your fingers or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush crust with reserved egg. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is bubbling and crust is deep golden brown and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. If filling has been refrigerated, increase baking time by 15 minutes and cover with foil for last 15 minutes to prevent over browning. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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