Steak and Ale Humble Pie

September 12, 2010
Author Notes

My sister who has lived in England since the 70's, has introduced me to many British traditions over the years. I also spent a summer working on a dig in York, England, another in Lowestoft and one in Bognor Regis, where I grew accustomed to various meat pies for our short lunch breaks. For this recipe I have elected to "New Englandize" a steak pie recipe. I am suggesting puff pastry (if you have 3 days to make a proper one, I have a great recipe) or a shortcrust pastry with a bit of pumpkin and corn meal added in. I bought my grassfed sirloin from a local farm and the fresh harvest vegetables at my local farmer's market. The pumpkin ale hails from New England. The maple syrup is a gift from a neighbor and herbs from my garden The flour comes from Vermont. If you wanted, you could add some fresh lamb kidney (6 oz.) to this, but I usually don't care for it all that much. This pie has some root to the British humble pie with the original dish dating back to 16th Century England. Then it was called "umbles pie" — a meat pie made from deer umbles (the innards). These less desirable meats would be taken home by the huntsman who killed a deer for a nobleman, while the nobleman would get the venison. The "umbles" would be baked into a more modest dish eaten by the working class: "Umble pie" indicated social order. The term has evolved to have many new meanings and forms, now known as "humble pie," including many meats and even sweet fillings such as huckleberries. For the new year and the coming of spring we make a steak and oyster pie, which is great. Using a sirloin here, the meat was plenty tender. You could also use other cuts of natural preferably grassfed beef, as long as they will be tender for stewing. I have made this using fresh venison and a few juniper berries, when a hunter friend gave me steaks. - Sagegreen —Sagegreen

Test Kitchen Notes

We absolutely loved this pie! Sagegreen truly selected thoughtful ingredients that are just brimming with autumn flavors. I thought the pumpkin ale imparted a nice subtle hint of spice and that combined with the maple syrup, (I used a good one, though not homemade), really added an extra depth to the essence of this savory pie. Take her advice if you go with the shortcrust pastry (as I did) and don’t forget to add the pumpkin and cornmeal. . . wonderful!! – TiggyBee —The Editors

  • Serves 6
  • excellent quality commercial puff pastry or shortcrust pastry made with @ 1 tbl. each of cider vinegar, buttermilk powder, pureed pumpkin, and fine corn meal added to recipe if possible
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds grassfed sirloin, sliced bite size (or fresh venison steak with 2 juniper berries)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • fresh milled pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 two inch sprig of rosemary, leaves only, minced
  • 3 fresh sage leaves, rolled and sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ounces flour
  • 1 cippolini onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 6 ounces pumpkin ale
  • 12 ounces homemade stock, vegetable or beef, with more in reserve
  • 1 leek bulb, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red bliss potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh sugar pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 mac apple, peeled and sliced
  • 1 slice of cooked applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 egg yolk thinned with a tbl. milk
  • small bowl of cold water for sealing crusts together
In This Recipe
  1. Heat a pan with the oil. Add the beef with some milled pepper and sear quickly. Remove from heat and dredge in flour seasoned with herbs, salt, and pepper.
  2. Saute the onions in the pan until translucent. Add the stock, ale, and syrup. Bring to a boil, then simmer.
  3. Add the vegetables, bacon, and dredged sirloin with all the flour and herbs to the pan. Add the apple about 15 minutes later. Simmer gently for about 40 minutes. Make sure you achieve a gravy-like consistency here at this stage. Balance this out by the end (add flour to a cool stock and then add to pan to thicken or add more stock to dilute). Let this mixture rest for several hours or overnight for the flavors to mingle.
  4. Then line the deep dish pie pan with your selected chilled pastry crust. I hope you are able to integrate some pureed pumpkin and corn meal into your crust, just by adding a tablespoon of each to your recipe (I have a shortcrust recipe with my peach pie on this site, if you need one). Brush lightly with oil. Add the filling.
  5. Add and seal the top crust, either as a solid piece with vents or a lattice design to the bottom crust using some cold water. Brush with an egg yolk thinned with about a tablespoon or less of milk. Bake until golden brown in a 400 degree oven (35-40 minutes). Cool but serve warm with some wilted greens like swiss chard in light olive oil and lemon.
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