steak and ale pie: low syn and delicious

Steak and ale pie. No look, I’m not even going to waffle on for 1000 words about not being able to tie my shoelaces or an hilarious encounter in the office lift. You’re here for steak and ale pie, and we’re the ones to give it to you. Now let’s make one thing clear though – no amount of fancy recipe is going to allow you to have pastry all the way around the dish like a proper pie. Other blogs might suggest you use a Weight Watchers wrap instead of pastry but that’s like using a dildo instead of a toothbrush – it’s just not the same and you’ll chip your teeth. A wrap is bread. Pastry is delicious fat and flour. So, because we’re big fans of the old ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’, we say use proper pastry, use proper ale, and enjoy your dinner. Eat properly, not Frankenfood. You’re allowed 15 syns a day for goodness sake, don’t save them for some rotten homemade Hari-no jelly sweets and fifteen Muller Lights. It’s your body. Let’s do this.

This makes enough for four ‘pies’. The filling is very rich, as you’d expect, and the pastry creates a lovely thick lid to mop up the sauce. You’ll need four pie dishes or small vessels. Or just make a big one and eat it all yourself. Serve with whatever veg you like! Oh and a heavy casserole dish is better, rather than a bog-standard pan, but either way is fine.

steak and ale pie

steak and ale pie

to make a steak and ale pie, you’ll need:

  • about 1kg of braising steak – now, you don’t need to spend a massive amount here because it cooks for long enough to make it tender, but don’t go buying the Tesco Value shoe-leather steaks because you’ll be chewing it come December
  • one large white onion
  • two cloves of garlic
  • two fat carrots sliced into discs
  • a pinch of chilli powder
  • two beef stock cubes made into 600ml of stock
  • a 330ml (small) bottle of whatever ale you want – because we’re Geordies divvent-ya-knaa we use Newcastle Brown Ale. Couldn’t get more Northern if Sting came and made the stock for us. I’m glad he didn’t, because he’s a self-aggrandising arrogant prick, but sssh (6 syns)
  • two tsp of thyme (if dried) or a good pinch if fresh
  • a tin of marrowfat peas, or if you prefer, a good handful of frozen peas
  • optional: button mushrooms cut in half
  • 100g Jus-Rol lighter puff pastry (16 syns) (and actually, although you use 25g each for the lid, that’s being very generous – you’ll probably find yourself using less)
  • one egg
  • pinch of salt and pepper

If you’re wondering where we got our fancy dishes from – they’re actually soup bowls from Le Creuset, which you can still buy on Amazon – just saying!

to make a steak and ale pie, you should:

  • roughly chop the onion – you’re not going for presentation here so don’t take your time
  • cut up your braising steak into small chunks – postage stamp sized is good enough (get rid of any bits of fat) (I know, it hurts)
  • use a few sprays of oil, get the pan nice and hot and then sweat off your onions until golden
  • add the meat chunks – now, this is important – don’t keep moving them around in the pan relentlessly. Let them sit for a bit – they shouldn’t burn, but they’ll get a bit of a crust on them which is far nicer – trust me
  • whilst that’s cooking, mince your garlic and add it in along with the chilli powder, thyme, a pinch of pepper and salt
  • once your meat is browned, whack the heat right up for a moment and then pour in the ale – you want the pan hot so the ale bubbles up, then get a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the tasty crunchy bits up into the sauce
  • next goes the stock, the carrots, the peas and mushroom if you’re using them
  • now just let this bubble gently on the hob for as long as you can – the longer you cook, the softer the steak and the thicker the sauce, but feel free to add some gravy granules if you want to thicken it quicker
  • when it comes to making the pies, get your pie dishes ready, ladle in a load of the mixture and then cut out a lid (using 25g of puff pastry)
  • pop the lid on top of the mixture – nice and snug – and then wash the pastry with beaten egg and a good pinch of both salt and pepper
  • cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or for as long as it takes for the pastry to go golden
  • enjoy!

Honestly one of my favourite meals – no surprise that I do indeed eat all of the pies. OH BONUS RECIPE!

steak and ale pie

We served ours with a wee little caramelised leek, parmesan and Marmite stack! Easy – thinly slice a couple of leeks, sweat them down forever with a pinch of salt and sugar (honestly, low heat, an hour) – they’ll reduce right down. Near the end, add a dollop of Marmite and your healthy extra Parmesan, then shape into little stacks!

Looking for more pie ideas?

Yum! Enjoy, and please do share.

J

cheesy potato cake – goodness me, it’s good

Do you know, I very nearly called this post Potato Cakes (I Just Don’t Know Know) but had I typed that out, the song Baby Cakes would enter my head. Should this happen, the only reasonable course of action would have been to step outside, nip into our garden shed, tip the lawn mower on its side, douse myself in the petrol that runs out and set myself on fire because I ABSOLUTELY HATE THAT SONG. I hate it! Not just in a ho-ho-how-silly way like most people hated on that Crazy Frog song but in a ‘whoops, there goes the skin on my back, cascading over my skull as I cringe in on myself like an alarmed tortoise’ fashion.

You know what’s the real icing on this particular shitcake though?

The stupid head-bobbing action of the frosted-tipped Matalan-shirted, pouting primadonna on the right, pursing his lips throughout the whole thing.  You’ve got no idea what black, boiling rage he stirs up inside me. Everyone has their Moriarty – I didn’t expect mine to be dressed like an fired ice-cream salesman.

Anyway, that’s all entirely by the by – I have every intention of this post being a quick recipe post, so let’s get straight to it. I happened across this recipe in a book by Antonio Carluccio – naturally his recipe calls for all sorts of butters and cheese so we’ve had to dial it back, but this is still a bloody taster dinner or, even better, leftovers-the-next-day meal. It sounds interesting, but honestly, make it and you’ll never look back. I do like Antonio Carluccio and it’s-sad-that-he’s-died-isn’t-it-mate – I love men with those big bushy eyebrows. I feel he’s what I’ll eventually end up looking like, although my eyebrows are already doing that awful thing where a couple of hairs on each side branch out looking for independence from the rest, pointing straight out in front of me just enough to get in my field of vision. Bastards.

The cheesy potato cake then. This is a load of carbs and cheese, but listen, that’s OK sometimes. Sometimes you need something heavy to sit on your stomach, and I’m not always available. This serves six very generously, so don’t balk at the amount of cheese. Trust me: I shagged a doctor once.

cheesy potato cake

cheesy potato cake

cheesy potato cake

to make a cheesy potato cake, you’re going to need:

  • about 900g of potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed – or use leftover mash
  • 200g of mozzarella – we actually used a smoked mozzarella from Tesco called Scamorza, which was tasty, but any will do (4 x HEA)
  • 80g of extra mature lighter cheese (2 x HEA)
  • I used about 250g of chopped wafer ham, but you could use bacon, boiled ham, chicken, anything you want
  • three eggs
  • a good pinch of salt and pepper
  • a bag of rocket, chopped nice and fine – use spinach if you want
  • one whole leek

top tips for a perfect cheesy potato cake

  • this is a good recipe if you’re making the creamy green veg medley that I posted yesterday – any leftover leek, chuck it in here
  • this recipe isn’t an exact science by any stretch – you can add anything you like into this – think of it as a ‘leftovers’ cake
  • get a potato ricer, for the love of God – mashing potatoes is a ballache and you invariably end up with lumpy mash – not with a ricer. Pop the cooked potato in, push it through and you’ll have perfect creamy mash (oh, and if you want to be super fancy, throw in an egg when you beat the mash together – lovely)! You can pick up a ricer from Amazon for just over a tenner and it really will change your life
  • we topped our cake with 25g of panko (dried breadcrumbs) (4.5 syns) for a bit of crunch – I’m trying to re-use ingredients in our recipes so you’re not left with any waste! You could just blitz a breadbun but honestly, worth getting some panko – most major supermarkets stock it
  • if you’re not planning on getting intercourse for a week, you could roast a whole garlic bulb and mash that in with the potato – oh I say!
  • the cheese is the thing that’ll make this dish – go for strong, bold flavours – trust me

to make a cheesy potato cake, you should:

  • if you haven’t already, peel, boil and mash your potatoes (preferably using a ricer, but I won’t shit the bed if you want to do it by hand)
  • heat the oven up to 185 degrees and get a cake tin out of the cupboard, lamenting that you’re not making something with butter, flour and sugar – I know babes, fkn snakes the lot of them
  • chopped up your cheese into little tiny cubes, chop up the ham into rags, chop up the rocket, thinly slice that leek – throw all of this into the pan with the mash, add the three eggs, a really good pinch of salt and pepper and stir
  • stir it like buggery! Stir it with all your might!
  • slop it into the cake tin with all the style and grace you’d ordinarily reserve for a crap behind your car door by the side of the road
  • smooth out the top, coat with breadcrumbs if you want, add more grated cheese if you dare
  • cook for a good forty minutes – though watch the top doesn’t burn
  • once it’s solid (it’ll not be rock solid when it’s hot mind, so use your common sense) take out of the oven and allow to cool
  • once cool, slice and serve – and this is lovely the next day

We just served ours with a simple green salad and Dynorod on standby to handle the inevitable carb-drop.

Want more lunch ideas? Goodness me, you’re keen, but here we go:

Enjoy!

J

four meals from a chicken: chicken, ham and leek pie

Our third recipe using up the leftover scraps of chicken to make a chicken, ham and leek pie – this time, scrape every last bit of meat you can from the bones. It’s all a bit Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but really, don’t waste any. If you’re running short, just up the amount of ham and leek and no-one will notice. Keep the carcass mind! We’re going to boil it up tomorrow. Quick post tonight.

OH! We have a competition! Win yourself a free Musclefood freezer filler courtesy of your favourite blog, right here

Speaking of pie, I was going to post a lovely recipe for apple and persimmon tart, but see Rob came home and I burnt the custard and er, stabbed him in the back. Well obviously not, but does anyone else listen to The Archers? I don’t, as a rule, but I catch the odd episode as I drive home maybe once a fortnight, and feel like I keep up-to-date with the storylines just fine. Goodness, I nearly drove into a ditch as I listened to the last episode. I haven’t been this moved by the radio since poor Heather-Pet died.

Mind, anyone who thinks The Archers is indicative of country living is completely wrong – well, they got one syllable of that right – there’s nowhere near enough of pointing slackjawed at aeroplanes, showing into holes in the ground and bumming behind hay-bales, for one. Anyway, hush, let’s rush to the recipe!

chicken, ham and leek pie chicken, ham and leek pie

to make four lots of chicken, ham and leek pie you’ll need:

  • every last scrap of leftover chicken or turkey, or, two chicken breasts cut into small chunks – perhaps use two breasts from the many, many breasts you get as part of our freezer filler box from Musclefood (£80 of meat for £50, all pure meats, no fanciness)
  • two fancy shallots
  • three big leeks (use a mandolin slicer to make short work of slicing these buggers, and better yet, our recommended mandolin is only £9 on Amazon at the moment)
  • massive handful of peas
  • syn-free wafer thin ham
  • two minced garlic cloves
  • 440g of Philadelphia lightest (440g being 4 x HEA, and as this makes enough for four pies, it’s one each – otherwise, syn 440g of Philadelphia as 5.5 syns per pie)
  • 500g of cottage cheese or Quark – if it’s cottage cheese, you’ll need to make sure you get a syn-free version like Tesco’s Healthy Living
  • 100g of Jus-Rol light puff pastry, divided into four – that’s 4 syns each (4.25 syns really but come on)
  • an egg
  • a bit of milk to loosen it might be needed

TOP TIP: you can make this syn free if you make a bubble and squeak rosti from leftover Sunday veg and use that as a lid instead – you can find the recipe for that right here

to make four lots of chicken, ham and leek pie you should:

  • slice up the shallots, leeks, water thin ham, mince the garlic and add in the chicken and sweat it all down in a pan
  • slowly stir in the Philadelphia with plenty of black pepper
  • slowly stir in the Quark or, if you’re using cottage cheese, blend that first and then pour it in
  • let everything simmer very gentle for maybe half an hour, if it is too thic, loosen it off with a splash of milk
  • when you’re ready to cook, pour the mixture into four seperate pie dishes or one big Pyrex dish
  • stretch out your pastry to cover the top – if you’re struggling, why not just cut out a shape like a star using a cookie cutter (like our post right here) and put that on instead?
  • brush with egg and use any leftover pastry to write an obscene word on the top
  • bake in the oven until the pie is golden and serve with veg
  • easy!

Enjoy! Remember if you’re being a tight-arse with syns you should replace the pastry with the rosti lid – just as nice and a bit more speed too. Oh if you need them, the individual pie dishes can be found here

J