Friday, 22 January 2016

Steak, Onion and Cheese Pie

Mmmm, meat pie...comfort food for my husband, and something I don't make often enough for him.

The flank steak in the freezer inspired this; I decided to braise it and use it as the filling, along with the last two carrots and lots of onions.

Looking around I was able to use up a few other things...the pink peppercorns are all gone now! I also made good use of the cream cheese, open red wine and beef stock.

I made this over two days, marinating the beef overnight in red wine, Balsamic vinegar, pink peppercorns and fresh rosemary. I braised it with onions and beef stock, then shredded it and used the liquid to make the gravy, adding more onions and carrots.

While the filling was cooling, I made the pastry using butter and cream cheese as the fat. This results in a rich, flaky pastry, that is easy to work with and a bit more forgiving than one made with only butter.

I served this with oven fries and salad, my take on pie and chips!

Make the marinade by combining:

1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, crushed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place the marinade into a re-sealable plastic bag, along with:

1lb flank steak (I had just over a pound, in 2 separate pieces).

Seal, removing as much air as possible, and refrigerate overnight.

To cook the flank steak, remove it from the marinade, reserving the marinade.

Sear both sides of the meat in a hot pan.


1 medium onion, thinly sliced


The reserved marinade
2 cups beef stock

Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer, cover and leave to cook until the meat is falling apart, 2 - 3 hours.

Remove the meat from the braising liquid, reserving the liquid to make the gravy. Measure the liquid so that you know how much flour you need to thicken the gravy. When the meat is cool enough, shred it and set aside.

Over a medium heat, with a drizzle of olive oil, cook until soft:

1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
Salt and pepper

I had 3 cups of braising liquid, so I added:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup flour

Cook, stirring until the flour and oil make a paste.

Add the reserved braising liquid, and bring to a boil, whisking to prevent lumps from forming.

Turn the heat down and allow the gravy to simmer for 5 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from the heat.

Stir the shredded braised beef into the gravy (I had 3 cups of meat) and allow it to cool completely before assembling the pie.

While the meat is braising, make the pastry so that it has time to rest and chill before being rolled out.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream until blended:

8 ounces softened butter
6 ounces soft cream cheese


2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Mix on low speed until a soft, shaggy dough forms.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and gently knead on a lightly floured counter to bring it together into one ball.

Divide the dough into 2, and form each into a disc.

Wrap well with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

When the filling is completely cooled, you can start to assemble the pie. Turn the oven on to 425F.

On a lightly floured counter, roll one piece of chilled dough out to a thickness of about 1/8".

Use the rolled dough to line a 10" pie plate.

Roll the second piece of dough out to the same thickness.

Scrape the cooled meat filling into the pie plate, and top with sliced Cheddar cheese.

Brush the part of the pastry that is resting on the rim of the pie plate with egg wash.

Carefully place the second piece of rolled dough on top of the pie, pressing it down to the egg washed edges of the bottom piece of pastry.

Trim the edges of both pieces of pastry, tuck them under and crimp decoratively.

Cut a steam hole in the centre of the top crust.

Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash.

Place the pie plate onto a baking sheet and into the oven. Turn the heat down to 350F and bake until the crust is golden and the filling inside is bubbling, about 1 hour.

Allow the pie to rest for 5 minutes before cutting it and serving. We are sauce lovers, so I tend to make the gravy on the runnier side. This makes for a messier presentation, but the taste is much nicer, in my opinion...I'm not a fan of thick, stodgy gravy!

  • If you are not comfortable making your own pastry, use store bought pastry. The pie can also be made as a pot pie, by placing the filling into an ovenproof dish, and topping with a single layer of pastry. Purchased puff pastry is a great choice for this, as it has so many flaky layers.
  • Another pastry recipe that can be used is the one in the post  Goat Cheese Tart with Grape Tomatoes and Fresh Basil
  • The pastry can be flavoured with chopped fresh herbs if you choose.
  • The pastry can be made a few days ahead, and kept well wrapped in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen.
  • Individual pies can be made if you have small tart shells; muffin tins can also be used. You can also make hand pies if you like (see the post Chicken Hand Pies ).
  • Leftover stew makes a great filling for a pie; all of the work has already been done!
  • Some people like to add potato to their pies; I prefer not to. If you want to add potato, why not try sweet potatoes or yams? Rutabagas can also be used.
  • The pink peppercorns added a hint of lemon and heat to the filling; the Balsamic vinegar gave some depth. The acidity from the vinegar helps to cut through the richness of the meat,  but as such a small amount is used it does not overwhelm any of the other elements of the filling. You can discard the marinade if you like, and just braise the meat in beef stock.
  • Other tough cuts of meat can be used, as you are marinating and braising it; these both help to break down, and add flavour to, tough cuts of meat. The other advantage of using tougher cuts is that they are often cheaper. Try skirt steak, blade steak, brisket or outside round.
  • I had two small flank steaks, with a total of just over a pound of meat. This made enough filling for one 10" pie plate; leftovers for lunches the next day after feeding four people.
  • The cheese is optional, but the gooey melted cheese does add a lot to the enjoyment of the pie. Any strong, melting cheese will do...asiago, cheddar, pepper Jack, havarti, blue cheese...whatever you have to use.
  • If you want a thicker gravy, use 1/2 cup of flour and 4 tablespoons of olive oil or butter. As I mentioned, we like sauce and prefer a runnier pie gravy.
  • The pie can be assembled and frozen. It can be baked from frozen; allow extra time for it to heat right through.

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