Is there anything better than a good Beef and Ale pie? Pieces of melt in the mouth beef in a fantastic unctuous sauce, encased in buttery pastry!!! 

I’ve seen this fantastic dish made with absolutely no love or care so many times! Meat thrown into a saucepan, covered with water, boiled to within an inch of its life!, thickened with gravy granules and then the final indignity of being wedged between the most tasteless ill made pastry one can imagine!!! By “chefs” too!! 

This recipe I’m going to share with you guys is as far from that method as you can possibly get! We’re going to use the ox/beef cheek for starters, marinated in fantastic dark brown ale, slowly cooked until wonderfully tender……… I could go on and on!! But let’s just get started shall we?? The recipe does take time, but believe me it’s well worth the work 
This recipe will make you a pie enough to feed 6 people easily 


500g ox cheek ( trimmed of the sinew) 

500g piece smoked bacon, cut into lardons 

One bottle of rich dark ale

10g of flour

Beef dripping for frying

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 carrots peeled and chopped

150g button mushrooms, quartered

2 litres beef stock

1 tbsp Of bovril (optional but makes the difference)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 6cm-long marrow bone ( ask your butcher he’ll get you a piece) 

For the pastry 

500g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

chopped thyme leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

100g bone marrow, chilled and grated (or suet)

100g butter, chilled and grated

4 egg yolks, beaten

Cold milk

Marinade the ox cheek

Cut the ox cheek into generous chunks, not too small, keep it quiet big, put the ox cheek in a bowl, add the bacon lardons and marinade in the beer for as long as possible, ideally over night 
For the pastry 

in a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, thyme, a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Gently stir in the bone marrow and butter, then add the egg yolks and enough cold milk to bind,the idea is to bring it together into a paste. Don’t over work the pastry Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least an hour

Cooking the meat 

Drain the meat and reserve the marinade. Pat dry and dust the ox cheek in seasoned flour. Pat dry the bacon lardons. Heat the dripping in a large pan, brown the meat all over in batches, then brown the onion, garlic, carrot and mushrooms. Add the marinade, stock and Bovril and simmer for 3 hours, DO NOT BOIL THE PAN!!!!! Gently cook until the meat is tender.

Making that fantastic sauce/gravy 

Lift out the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and keep to one side,Increase the heat under the pan and reduce the sauce to a coating consistency, skim off any scum from the top, Now return all the meat and vegetables to the sauce,adjust the seasoning and set aside to cool. 

Now for the pie!!!

Fill a pie dish with the meat mix, and stand the marrow bone in the centre, just like a pie funnel! 

Roll the pastry to about 1cm thick and lay over the filling, you’ll need to make a small hole for the marrow bone to poke through,allow a overhang. The marrow bone should sit proud of the pastry. Sitting nicely in the centre of the pie 

Heat the oven to 180C 
Glaze the pastry with milk and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is well browned. 
I’d serve some delicious horseradish mashed potatoes and bashed carrots and swede with this utterly unctuous pie 

You will not taste a better Beef and Ale Pie!! 

Happy cooking 


Written by Jon Fell

Head Chef Rosehill Theatre, Chef on the Simply Good Food TV app, run a Seafood Cookery Class at Peter Sidwell Cookery School, Newspaper food columnist

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