Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Scottish Scran 4 - Mum's Steak Pie

Well, it's definitely Autumn. It's sunny today, but there is a bite to the air. My flip flops aren't quite finished with - tucked under the bed, resolutely hoping for an Indian summer. But the boots are back, cosy cardie on, and maybe a light scarf to keep the chill off my neck in the evening. And my final festival of the summer has just been cancelled as the site is water-logged... ya boo hiss, rain.

As with every change of the seasons, the end of summer means a change to how we eat - a cold salad just isn't as appealing when the central heating is on. And though I already miss summer (or the summer that wasn't!), there is something so comforting about cold weather food that I maybe don't feel so blue after all!

So to celebrate the change in the seasons, here is the fourth Scottish Scran dish - a warm comforting Steak Pie.

Not so dissimilar from most typical British pies, the Scottish steak pie is traditionally topped with puff pastry, and has no base crust. It also contains beef sausages - I was distressed as a child to have a steak pie in England and to find out there were no sausages in!! As well as allowing the pie to stretch further, the addition of sausages undoubtedly adds flavour to the finished pie.

Steak pie is an emotive dish for me. In Scotland, Hogmanay/ New Year is traditionally as big a deal - if not bigger - than Christmas! So after bringing in the bells, singing Auld Lang Syne, and doing our first-footing on Hogmanay, we'd look forward to our New Year's Day celebrations. Hair of the dog and a steak pie dinner - what better way to start the year?!

And more than this, steak pie was a regular Sunday dinner, everyone round the table together, and as often as not a grand-parent or two down for the afternoon. For a time, on Sundays, my dad played doms - the grand prize, a family sized steak pie. He hardly ever won...!

And I can tell you one thing that steak pie isn't. It isn't a bowl of meat stew, with a square of separately cooked puff pastry on top. That is a travesty, and should be removed from any (probably less than mediocre) pub menu instantly. My daddy never stood for it, and neither will I.

There are two camps of thought on steak pie pastry: Those who like the middle bit of the pastry, where it's a bit stodgy and all the gravy has soaked into the crust (me and my dad); and those who like the dry flaky pastry at the edges (my mum and sister). An even family split like this works very well, with minimal fighting, and no leftovers. I dread to think what would happen to a family whose steak pie crust preference was unbalanced. I'm quite sure there would be blood loss, possible divorce, and at the very least wasted steak pie.

Steak pies are generally bought at the butcher - and can be bought in varying sizes - through individual portions to huge family sized ones. Every family will have their favourite steak pie butcher - who may or may not be the butcher used for buying meat. The popular butcher can have huge queues - when I was there when I got this photo, the queue was out the door and past the shop front outside. At New Year it's best to order your pie in advance - they'll be well sold out by hogmanay!

Steak Pies!

My mum often used to make her steak pies herself. This involves having to order the skirt of beef from the butcher. It's much easier to get skirt in England - my guess is that it's all used to make the butcher's steak pies in Scotland! Not quite so easy to get beef sausages, but not too difficult... though I still dont' think they're the same... This is one recipe I would never mess with - in fact, despite it's simplicity, I still called my mum twice when making it, just to check my memory. I'm glad I've committed it to writing now!

It's an easy recipe, but it does need a long, slow cook. I would usually make the base up the day before it is needed, the meat should be falling-apart tender. Then the next day you're only half an hour away from dinner!

My Mum's Steak Pie

Serves 6
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1lb skirt beef, chopped big bite size bits
  • 0.5 lb beef sausages
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil to fry
  • Puff pastry for lid. I cheated and bought ready-made... but feel free to make your own!
Preheat oven to 150c.

Prepare the Skirt...

Heat a little oil in a casserole dish and fry off the onions for a couple of minutes. Season the flour and dredge the skirt beef in it. Add to the onions and brown off. Dissolve the stock cube in a bit of hot water and add to the pan, then top up with boiling water until the meat is covered. Add a decent amount of freshly ground black pepper - about a tablespoon.

Put the lid on the pan and put into a low oven for a couple of hours. Check every so often and top up water as required. The water becomes the gravy, so don't let it dry out!

Add the Sausage...
Chop each sausage into three, and add to the meat. Check water levels again and return to the oven for an hour - checking and giving a stir half way through.

Making the Pie...
Righty ho, so we have a lush base which should be full of the tenderest beef steak. If you squeeze a bit between finger and thumb, it should flake without pressure. And that's how you know it's ready!

Increase oven temperature to 170c.

Pour the meat mixture into a pie tray. Roll out your pastry to be slightly bigger than the pie dish. Cut off a couple of edges of the pastry and stick round the edge of the pie tray.


I put the egg holder thingie in to stop the pastry sinking in the middle. But it was too high. So I took it out, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best!

Brush a bit of milk over the edges, and place the pastry on top. Trim the edges and brush the top with milk. Stab in a couple of steam holes and we're set to go.

Bake the Pie!
Put the pie into the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes or so, while you make up some creamy, buttery mashed potato and steam some veg.

It's not pretty food, it's steak pie!

Scottish Word of the Day!

Stodgy - I can't think of an alternative to this word, it's kind of thick, heavy, starchy.

Often mistakenly* used as a negative, in my opinion stodge is often a very good thing. It's the basis of all comfort food. Think mashed potato, rice pudding, pies, chili con carne with rice, fruit crumble... oh yes!


Hmmm... on consideration, I'm not even sure if stodgy is actually a Scottish word! Though it does describe a lot of Scottish food.
So I'll give you some bonus vernacular just in case!

Vino Collapso - cheap, strong wine

Ah wis steamin' last nite - shouldnae hae open'd that last boattle of vino collapso. A boattle o' ginger'll soart me right oot tho!




*IMO!




This is also my entry for Ivy's Savoury Pies event! If you have a pie you think the world should know about, head over and check the announcement page out now - you have 'til the end of the month to get it in!

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43 comments:

jodimop said...

I like stodgy food too Kittie, especially in the winter.

Michele said...

I haven't had a good steak pie since my Gran passed. I would love to make one myself, but I have a terrible fear of pastry. Mine always seems to come out tough. When the weather cools down a bit more I will have to give your Mum's recipe a try. But I'm going to cheat and buy the ready made pastry. :-)

Peter M said...

I do enjoy a good steak pie but they are harder to find here in the less WASP Toronto. With this sudden cool weather here, your pie would hit the spot and I must say, I thank you so very much for relaying the name of that Scottish winery (Vino Collapso)! lol

Núria said...

I never had a steak pie! But, I wouldn't mind getting invitations for one ;D.
It's funny because in Spanish colapso (with one l) means collapse, which is what happens when you drink too much wine :D

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Oh Kittie that looks so good. Still too hot here for a meal like that but hopefully our first cold front will be here in a month or two!

Tom Aarons said...

Hi Kittie! Love the idea of a family happily divided by their love of different parts of the pie crust! And the pie itself looks sublime. :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks delicious! Perfect for the 3 weeks of cold weather we get here in FL. Man do I miss the FALL! I so want to try this!

glamah16 said...

Oh that really looks satisfying and comforting.

CECIL said...

That just looks super good! Love the nice golden brown pastry. Will absolutely make it on winter time! Yummmm!

Nate-n-Annie said...

That just looks so homey and comforting. I'm sure it was a very satisfying meal.

Could you use lamb in this, or would that be too much of a deviation?

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I just so happened to make a steak pie last week and enjoyed the very last of my leftovers...and now I want more! Yours looks really good. Also, I never knew how popular they are in your neck of the woods!

Doo Dah said...

Oh YUM

I am SO going to try that!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Curious how you found me. Are you friends with little Miss Dragon? :-) I dont let the cat out of the bag too often that I am a gourmet, it would ruin the redneck reputation I have *wink*

See you around and I will let you know how my steak pie turns out!

Abigail said...

I miss my British hubby's grandma's steak and kidney pie! She was still making them into her late 80s and early 90s.

My Scottish sister-in-law gave us some Scottish insult tea mugs that are great! My favorite is glaikit - and the example is "he stood there wi' a glaikit look oan his fizzog". Fun!

Nina Timm said...

I made a lovely steak pie the other, sadly not with sausage, but definitely with puff pastry. This was a very interesting post on Scottish traditions. Your pie looks lovely...
http://www.my-easy-cooking.com/2008/07/beef-and-vegetable-piess.html

kittie said...

Hey jodimop - yep, we need stodge to get the warm fuzzies when the temperature drops outside!

I'm scared of pastry too michele... I've never even tried to make it!

Good steak pies aren't too easy to find in Brighton either Peter - lucky they are so easy to make!

Hey Nuria - I'll let you know when it's next on the menu - and you can bring the collapso!

Enjoy your last month or two of heat Judy!

Thanks Tom! Happily divided is fine... fighting for territory is an entirely different matter!

Lol - you'll have a lot of warm weather dishes to get through in those three weeks Jenn! ;)

Thanks coco - the ultimate comfort food in my opinion!

Hey, thanks Cecil - let me know how you get on if you do!

Hi Nate-n-Annie! Yep - lean shoulder/neck would work well here!

Hey Mike - snap! Are you going to post it?? Yep, we love our pies, I have another one coming up too...!

Hey doo dah! Mmmm - I don't recall exactly - there could well be a Dragon link! But don't worry, I won't tell...!

Oooo abigail - glakit is a great word! That and gormless... which is something similar :D

Hi Nina! Your pies look great - and I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

Bellini Valli said...

My mom always made her pie with minced meat so I never had the luxury of having steak and sausages to chow down on:D

Dee said...

I think Vino Collapso is my new favourite word ;)

What are the odds, but I just made pie too. Beef & mushroom. Eli loves the pastry and I love the meat; Jules loves both. We're a good match, but Jules often ends up hungry.

Your ma's pie looks absolutely scrummy!

Dharm said...

I love a good pie and I love sausages too! So that Steak Pie of yours sounds just great!

Sam said...

That pie looks so good! I've never heard of putting sausages in a pie before, what a good idea!

I've started making winter food too, we've had a couple of crumbles and I have oxtail casserole planned.

Jeanne said...

Stodgy is a good thing, given the weather we've been having!! This pie looks fantastic :)

ginger@dinnerdiary.org said...

Looks lovely, I've really been craving pie lately so we're going to make one at the weekend. Perfect for this miserable weather.

kittie said...

Oh, minced meat pies most definitely have their place in my heart Val, but pride of place is the steak and sausage!

Hey Dee - seems like there are a few pies popping up just now - I love it! And I'm glad to see another family has pie division traditions!

Dharm, pie with sausage is a match made in heaven!

Ooooo - oxtail, I'm looking forward to seeing that Sam. I always eye it up at the butchers, but have never actually cooked with it!

Thanks Jeanne, and congrats again on the Click! placing!!

Hey Ginger - you enjoy that pie! And make sure it's served with mash - nowt else will do when it's raining!

Maria said...

Making family recipes are always comforting and usually the best!

Lynda said...

Thanks for visiting my blog all the way in Africa ;) Mmmmm I see what you mean about the comfort food thing .... this steak pie looks really yummy & I like your clever idea of using an egg cup thingy in it !
Bye for now
Lynda, Kilimanjaro, East Africa

Adam said...

Is it possible that I can be in the two camps of scran people. I'd go for stodgy pie or crispy pie :)

Thanks for the recipe, definately a fun Fall keeper.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I certainly ate my fair share of steak pie when I was in Scotland a few years ago. I'm a stodgy girl too! Your pie looks fab! It's brought me a craving, so I suppose I'll have to make one now. ;)

BTW, we've been paired up for the Adopt-a-Blogger event. I'm excited! You've got lots of great stuff here! :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

OMG! I am in beef heaven. If I had been eating sausage in my pie all of my life and was served on without, I'd feel so deprived.

Don't feel bad about buying the pastry. I would too. I think puff pastry will always be something I dno't make from scratch. Maybe if I retire rich and have lots of time and money to screw it up a hundred times I'll try it.

Kristen said...

Hey there :)
Adopt a blogger matches are up on my blog.
Thanks for participating!

kittie said...

Hey maria - i love making dishes from home - I've been really enjoying this return to my roots!!

Hi Lynda! Thanks for stopping by - I love seeing what down at the farm! The egg cup turned out being too high for the pastry so I did it without, turned out fine though!

Ah Adam... an ambi-crustal... ;) You're one of the lucky ones - you get to eat everything!!

Woo hoo! That's exciting news sgcc - looking forward to being your adopted bloggee!

Hi shorty! When we're rich we'll eat nothing but sausage pie with homemade pastry!!

Hi Kirsten - great initiative, I'm excited to take part!! Thanks :D

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Oh my gosh that pie...I want a pie SO bad now :) Looks absolutely delicious. And here in New Zealand, I'm not quiiiite ready to bring my flip flops out from hibernation...

Foodycat said...

I am definitely a gravy-soaked middle bit of pastry person myself. I have never had a steak pie with sausage in, and now I want to!

David Hall said...

Steak pie, it just has to be tasty! Delish.

Cheers
David

Ivy said...

Kittie, where were you hiding all this time lassie? I see that you know most of my friends and yet it is the first time I see you around. I am so glad I've met you and shall be visiting you again. Thanks for participating with this fabulous pie. I have been drooling all the time I was reading your post. We are that sort of a family fighting over the four corners of the pie tin.

kittie said...

Hey laura! I guess the colder we get - the hotter you get! Better get pie eating while you still can... ;)

Hi foodycat - steak, sausage and gravy soaked pastry - what's not to like!!

Hey David - and it was!!

Hi Ivy, and welcome... I didn't mean to hide!! I'm glad you like my pie - I might have another Scottish entry for you next week too :D

Foodycat said...

My boss had steak pie for lunch yesterday (at a Greek deli) and was outraged that it was made with shortcrust and no sausage. He also told me that because steak pie is so often served after funerals that people will say "He's got a smell of steak pie about him" if you think someone is not long for this world... Which confirms my view that the Scots are barking mad.

Ann Crum said...

Hi there - the steak & sausage pie looks delicious. I was brought up in dundee and never ever had steak and sausage pie but have very fond memories of butcher's steak pies at New Year and for Sunday dinner with the family. I've been in New Zealand for the past 27 years and I'll use your recipe with the sausages and hopefully it will turn out as good. At the mo I'm waiting for my mince and peas - scottish style - to cook for my tea. I made it in the slow cooker with marrowfat peas my sister sent out and soaked them overnight. Yummy, I can't wait!

Sally said...

Thanks very much for this recipe, in the sausage phase at the moment and smelling amazing.
I'm Scottish too and as such love my pies, but sausages in steak pies are new to me. We always get a good butchers one at New Year, nothing more homely or warming to set you up for a night on the Vino Collapso. :)
Will be sure to try more of your recipes, looks delicious and simply explained for even amatuers like myself.
Cheers!

Angela said...

came across your blog when I was looking up steak pie on google to see what ould come up. I am a fifer and have never had a steak pie with sausage in it - maybe a regional thing, but one I will try all the same. A very interesting post and blog.

Anonymous said...

Used this recipe today and although the meat was tender and very tasty the amount of pepper completely ruined the other flavours. Will try again in future but with normal seasoning.
Thanks Stewart

Alan, Glasgow said...

Absolutely love this recipe, great to see a truly Scottish recipe :) Used it numerous times before and will always use it in future. My girlfriend now thinks I'm a culinary genius thanks to you so much appreciated Kittie :) Richmond Sausages, tender beef cuts from butcher and puff pasty thawing as we speak, can't wait to make this again tonight :) 10/10

Joanne, Glasgow said...

Delicious! As a self appointed Steak Pie expert, im totally with your dad on the Stew and Pastry travesty!! It gets sent back every time. I think having 'links' (sausages) in your Steak Pie may be a West of Scotland thing also.

KELVIN said...

No cheating using shop pastry, what a hassle making your own is. Recipe looks great and hopefully mine will turn out at least half as good on Ne'erday. Thanks for the recipe.

Ross Taylor said...

Good stuff. The soggy pastry is probably one of the best foods in the World.