It hasn’t take much of a downturn in the weather for me to dust off the casserole dish and fire up the oven. This pie is the acme of old-fashioned comfort food. If the idea of smoked oysters revolts you by all means leave them out, but it would be a shame as they lend the pie filling a depth of umami flavour. You can find tins of smoked oysters in bigger supermarkets. I’ve made life simple by opting for ready-made puff pastry, but if you love making pastry a rough puff or even a plain shortcrust lid would certainly not be sniffed at.
- 880g trimmed shin of beef, cut into 3cm pieces
- 4 tablespoons plain flour seasoned with salt and ground black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil e.g. sunflower or rapeseed
- 5 large echalion shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 500ml Guinness
- 300ml beef stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 x 85g tins smoked oysters, drained
- 320g ready rolled puff pastry (all-butter preferably)
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
- Heat the oven to 150˚c, fan oven 130˚c, mark 3. Roll the meat in the seasoned flour until the pieces are evenly dusted (doing this in a freezer bag makes life very simple). Lift the meat out of the flour, keeping any leftover flour for later.
- Heat about 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil in an ovenproof casserole and brown the meat in small batches for 3-4 minutes, adding a little more oil if necessary. Set the meat to one side. Wipe out the casserole with a piece of kitchen roll.
- Heat the remaining oil and brown the shallots for 5 minutes, turning them over after 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the leftover flour and cook for a further minute. Stir in the Guinness, beef stock and tomato purée and bring to the boil. Boil for two minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme, honey and browned meat. Season with a little salt and ground black pepper. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2 ½ 2 ¾ hours or until the meat is really tender. Cool then stir in the smoked oysters. You can make the pie filling a few days in advance but be sure to bring the meat to room temperature before baking.
- Heat the oven to 200˚c, fan oven 180˚c, mark 6. Remove the bay leaves and put the pie filling into a suitable pie dish. Cover with the pastry and brush the top with the beaten egg mixture. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the filling is piping hot and the pastry golden brown.