- 3tbsp olive oil
- 4 red onions, each half cut into three wedges
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 250g (9oz) button mushrooms
- 1.4kg (3lb 3oz) stewing beef, eg shin, cut into large cubes
- 40g (¼oz) flour
- 500ml (18fl oz) brown ale, such as Caffrey’s
- 150ml (¼pt) beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2tbsp bramble or redcurrant jelly
- 2 x 90g tins smoked oysters, drained
- 500g (1lb 2oz) block puff pastry (we love Jus-Rol all butter)
- 1 egg, beaten
Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Fry the onions for 4 minutes or until softened and slightly browned. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan.
Put the meat in a large bowl or food bag, add the flour, salt and black pepper and toss to coat. Add the rest of the oil to the frying pan and turn up the heat. Shake off the excess flour from the meat and quickly fry it in small batches until browned on all sides. (It is important not to overcrowd the pan, so that the meat is sealed and brown on the outside and not stewed.)
Place a large casserole dish over the heat, add the browned meat, cooked onions, garlic, mushrooms, ale, stock, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and jelly and stir well. Cover, bring to the boil, then simmer. Turn down the heat to very low (a heat diffuser is useful here) and simmer gently for 3 hours or in the oven at 140 C, 120 C fan, 275 F, gas 1. Strain through a colander, return the sauce to the pan and bubble for 30 minutes to reduce. (If it is not thick enough, add a little cornflour mixed with cold water.) Add the sauce to the filling and stir in the oysters. Put in a 2 litre (3½pt) pie dish. Cool slightly before topping with the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 200 C, 180 C fan, 400 F, gas mark 6. Roll out the pastry to fit the dish plus a little more. With the trimmings, cut an extra strip for the rim of the dish. Make pastry leaves with any remaining pastry bits. Brush the edges of the dish with beaten egg, lay over the pastry strip, glaze again with the egg and add the lid. Trim the edges, then crimp with a fork and make a small slit in the middle to let the steam escape, or use a pastry funnel. Decorate with the leaves and glaze again. Place the pie in the fridge for 20 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.