91 – Beef and Ale Pie

If you’re looking for a fast, easy meal for tonight’s dinner, then this pie isn’t for you. Seriously, this isn’t what you’re looking for. For something much less time-consuming – and equally as delicious – head over to my homepage and peruse all that From James to Jamie has to offer. However, if you’ve got some time on your hands, and you’re into the sort of “labour of love” that this savoury pie is, then you definitely need to give this recipe a try.

This pie is a mash-up of two of the best dishes I’ve made over the past year and a half. The filling is actually a very slight adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s basic beef and ale stew recipe. Time-consuming yet incredibly easy to throw together, I’ve made this delicious stew many times, playing around with which dark ale or stout to toss in. The crust is actually inspired by a sour cherry pie recipe that I mastered last year. In fact, that pie is the dish that got me onto this “actually cooking for myself” kick that I’ve been on.

Now I know I usually do a longer blurb before getting to the recipe, but there’s no time for that now. This recipe takes roughly 4 hours from start to finish (though there is a lot of down-time) so you’d  best get started. Be sure to read through all of the directions first, so you can best utilize your time (and so you know what you’re getting into). Honestly though, if you want to speed up the process, skip the whole crust part, buy some yummy bread instead, and you’ll be almost as satisfied as with yourself and your meal. You can do it though, start to crusty finish – I believe in you.

 Beef and Ale Pie


For the filling:

  • 3 carrots, cut length-wise then chopped2015-11-29 16.52.26
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 heaped tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 lb. stewing beef, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bottles Newcastle Brown ale (or similar brown ale)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, plus extra for seasoning to taste

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold, salted butter
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 7 tbsp. ice water
  • 1 egg + water for egg wash


  • In a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and toss in the carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaves. Cook the veggies for 10-12 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the beef and flour to the veggies and give it all a good stir.
  • Pour in the tomatoes and the beers, season with the salt and pepper (1 tsp. & 1/4 tsp., respectively), and give another good stir.
  • Turn up the heat slightly to allow for everything to quickly come to a boil. Once it starts boiling, turn it down to low, cover, and let simmer for 2 1/4 hours. Stir it occasionally during this time, and adjust the temperature if necessary to maintain a light simmer.
  • After 2 hours (when the filling has 15 more minutes simmering away covered), get started on the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together the salt and flour. Cut the butter into small, cm-sized cubes and all these to the dry mix.
  • Using clean hands, toss the butter pieces in the dry mix to coat them well. Working with a handful of this mixture at time, rub the cubes of butter between your thumb and fingers, pressing the butter into wide, thing pieces. Repeat this process until no large cubes of butter remain and the butter has been incorporated well into the mix, but still identifiable.
  • Add the ice water, a tbsp. at a time, stirring with a fork between each addition. Pause after adding the first 5 tbsp. of water to check on how well the dough presses together. If the dough is too dry, add the additional water, 1 tbsp., at a time, until the dough binds together to your liking.
  • Split the dough into equal portions, pour out onto wax paper, and use the wax paper to gather together the dough and press it into a 1-inch thick disk.  Wrap this disk in the wax paper and toss in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this step with the 2nd portion of dough.
  • Once the filling has simmered away for 2 1/4 hours, remove the lid and adjust the temperature slightly continue maintaining that simmer. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 45  minutes.
  • At this time, preheat your oven to 375°F and place a rack on the bottom level.
  • When your dough is finished chilling, remove and roll out each disk on a lightly floured surface. Place one sheet of dough on the bottom of a standard-sized pie dish, cutting off any excess and patching any holes with the excess. Reserve the other sheet of dough for the top of the pie.
  • When the filling has cooked uncovered for 45 minutes, season with additional salt as necessary (I added another 3/4 tsp. sea salt) and remove the bay leaves. Carefully spoon into your pie shell. If it looks like the liquid may overflow if all the filling is added, use a slotted spoon to add the last of the veggies and beef without adding all of the liquid.
  • Cover the top of the pie with the second sheet of dough, trimming the edges and crimping the two layers of dough together. Use the remaining dough to cut out festive shapes to add to the top of the pie for pure aesthetics (or to cover up any cracks in the crust). Brush the top of your pie lightly with egg-wash (made by vigorously mixing together an egg with about 1-2 tsbp. of water)
  • Cut some ventilation slits in the top of your pie, then place the pie on a baking sheet and toss on the bottom rack of your oven.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes, monitoring the crust past the 20-minute mark (your looking for a light, golden brown colour).
  • Remove from the oven and serve piping hot, or allow to cool slightly so the filling doesn’t run as much when portioning out slices.
  • (Optional) Take a picture of your masterpiece and tag me in it on Instagram (@fromjamestojamie) to let me know how awesome it is.

Serves 6

beef ale pie

2015-11-29 16.59.24

2015-11-29 16.56.22

Beef and Ale Pie





5 thoughts on “91 – Beef and Ale Pie

  1. Welcome to FF James! This pie was a labor of love and you mastered it. The crust is perfectly golden and looks totally flakey. The leaf cutouts are a nice touch. The beef filling makes this pie perfect hearty fare for the cold weather months. Thanks for sharing it at FF.


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