This was supper for three, with left-overs, last night in the Pink Mansion. My cousin wanted something filling after a day spent schlepping across London house-hunting; his girlfriend was feeling poorly and wanted something homely; I wanted beef. It was a pretty easy sell. It's filling, homely, and beefy. It's also dead easy. Don't think that you need to make the puff pastry by hand; shop-bought puff pastry is entirely adequate. Put this way, if it's good enough for James Martin, it's good enough for me. All that you need is a dollop of patience whilst the beef cooks.



Put a tablespoon or so of flour into a ziploc bag and season with salt and pepper. Tip in the beef, seal the bag and shake it about to coat the beef.

Heat a generous tablespoon of oil in the base of a heavy flameproof dish. Seal the meat in the hot oil and remove it to a plate.

Fry off the onions, carrots, and mushrooms in the beefy oil. The onions should be glassy and the carrots tender. Give it about five minutes.

Throw the beef back into the pan and cover it with the ale. Add the herbs, mushroom ketchup, redcurrant jelly, mustard, and salt and pepper. Bring the pan to a simmer, cover and let it cook slowly until the beef is tender. This will take at least one hour, but ours was on the hob for two. Also: you want the gravy to be thick, but you want there to be plenty. If you think it's getting a bit gloopy, add some beef stock.

Don't forget to taste-test and adjust the seasonings as necessary, either.

When the beef is cooked, pour into a pie dish (I used a 30cm by 20cm pyrex dish) and pre-heat the oven to about 200° Celsius, and then get on with the business of rolling out the pastry. My cousin was actually in charge of pastry-rolling last night. Half a pack (so about 250g) was rolled out on a floured surface so that it would cover the pie dish.

Pastry rolled out, it was laid over the beefy stew and a few cuts slashed into its top.

The entire thing was then placed in the oven for just over 30 minutes, until the pastry was risen and golden. What with the beef already being cooked, we didn't need to worry about that.

We had our pie with roast potatoes and cabbage. There was beer, too. And it was delicious.

Music to cook to: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N., Noah and the Whale

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