steak and mushroom (forestiere) pie

Makes enough filling and pastry for four people. Any leftover filling can be frozen and defrosted for later use.

You will need four 10.5cm (wide) x 3.5cm (deep) pie tins (recyclable foil tins are ideal).

The filling is best made at least a day in advance as this improves the flavour no end.


The Filling:

  • 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and cut into 5mm slices
  • 300g chuck or skirt steak, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 150g field mushrooms, cut into 1cm slices
  • 250ml full-bodied red wine
  • 1ltr beef stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of cornflour slaked (mixed with) in a little cold water

The Pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 medium free range egg, beaten (one for the pastry and one for glazing the top)
  • A little cold water to moisten

To make the filling:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  • Melt a little butter (approx 25 grams) in a roomy frying pan and fry the onions until translucent and taking on a little caramelisation. Tip into a large bowl.
  • Add a little more butter to the same pan and fry the cubes of beef until browned all over. Add to the bowl.
  • Again, adding a little butter, fry the sliced mushrooms until browned and reduced in volume by as much as half (this concentrates the flavour and stops them tasting slimy). Add to the bowl.
  • Place the frying pan back on the heat and deglaze using some of the red wine. As it begins to bubble use a plastic spatula to scrape up the lovely caramelised bits of browned meat, etc. Pour into the bowl along with the rest of the wine, the beef stock, the bay leaves and a little salt and pepper.
  • Tip everything in o a roomy roasting tray and stir. Place in the oven and cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until good and hot.
  • Stir, then cover tightly with a double layer of foil, then return to the oven. Reduce the heat to 130°C and cook for two hours, stirring occasionally. By then the meat should be very tender and soft (return to the oven for multiples of 30 minutes as necessary until tender).
  • Strain the filling through a colander into a saucepan and place the liquid on the hob on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then add some of the slaked cornflour, stirring or whisking constantly until thickened. Repeat if not thick enough. Adjust the seasoning, adding a little more salt if necessary. Mix this gravy into the meat mixture and allow to cool completely.

To make the pastry:

  • Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with either the metal blade or plastic dough blade.
  • Whizz for a few seconds to ‘sieve’ the flour and incorporate the salt.
  • Add the cubes of butter to the flour in the bowl and pulse until you have course breadcrumb-like consistency.
  • Add one of the beaten eggs (reserve the other for glazing the pie) and pulse several times until you have a semi-homogenous dough - it should start to come together when squeezed in your hands. If the mix is still a little too stiff add a little cold water and pulse again.
  • As soon as the mixture begins to come together, empty it out onto a lightly floured worktop.
  • Go in with your hands, bringing it together into a ball.
  • Knead once or twice sufficient to knock out any air pockets, then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to rest for half an hour or so.
  • Knead the dough lightly to prevent it cracking when you roll it out, then use in your recipe.

To make the pie:

  • Pre-heat oven to 220°C.
  • Grease the pie tin or tins with a little softened butter.
  • Roll out the pastry on a floured worktop and use to line your tin, leaving some excess over the edge. Pack in the filling to come a little higher than the rim of the pie tin, making sure you get the meat right into the corner between the base and sides. Brush the edges of the opening with egg wash.
  • Using the rolled out pastry trimmings, cut a disk or disks slightly larger than the opening and place on top of the meat. Bring up the edge and squeeze the lid and sides together. Finish with the tines of a table fork. Trim off the excess pastry. Glaze with the remaining beaten egg and cut a 1cm slit in the lid.
  • Place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes (20 minutes for small pies). Reduce the heat to 180°C and continue to bake for a further 20 minutes (10 minutes for small pies).