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Gluten-Free Beef & Ale Pies – Perfect Comfort Pub Food!
Nothing beats a homemade savoury pie filled with tender beef cooked slowly in ale, onions, carrots and mushrooms. The gluten-free flaky & buttery pastry is homemade and crisps up nicely as a lid over the beef filling.
Irish Comfort Food
This is the perfect comfort food for those cold days or to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! In fact, I was very tempted to call this dish “Beef and Guinness Pie” to honour this day celebrated on 17th March, but as Guinness doesn’t have a gluten-free range (yet!), I resorted to using one of the many gluten-free beers available, the darker the better. This gives the beef an added boost in flavour.
Can I make the beef & ale pie filling the day before?
Preparing the beef filling the day before will deepen the flavours. Slow cooking the beef filling in the oven takes between 2 to 3 hours to become fork-tender. However, if you prefer to slow cook the beef in a slow cooker/crockpot, this is a practical cooking method to use when planning ahead, especially if left on LOW overnight for a maximum of 8 hours.
Is it difficult to make gluten-free flaky pastry?
Surprisingly, no! Although this pastry looks and tastes similar to puff pastry, the steps to make the flaky pastry is less elaborate and time-consuming compared to puff pastry. I would only recommend making flaky pastry as a lid to pies or savoury biscuits, not as a base or container to hold fillings.
Following the steps precisely, you should have crisp, buttery, puffed-up pastry topping the warm beef and ale filling.
Important tips to make the gluten-free flaky pastry:
Use cold butter, before mixing it in the flour. Popping it in the freezer for 10 minutes will do the trick to keep it cold throughout the mixing.
Don’t over-mix the cold butter with the flour. Any visible specks or streaks of butter in the dough are a good sign and will help puff up the pastry.
If you are using your fingertips to rub in the butter, make sure they are cold. In fact, rubbing some ice cubes on your hands prior to mixing will keep the dough nice and cool. The idea is to prevent the butter from warming up and melting into the flour, which will eventually lose its ability to puff up nicely.
Can the gluten-free pastry be made the day before?
This is perfectly fine to make ahead of time. Make sure to wrap the pastry well in plastic film and keep it away from any strong-smelling food stored in the fridge. Bring out the pastry to room temperature half an hour before assembling the pie and try not to roll the pastry out twice, so as to retain those lovely layers.
Gluten-Free Beef & Ale Pies
Beef & Ale Pie Filling
- 1.3 kg beef stewing meat (goulash meat in Austria) or beef cheeks, cut into 3cm pieces
- 3 tbsp cornflour Known as cornflour in the UK and corn or maize starch in the USA
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp butter
- 1 leek or large onion, sliced thinly
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 400 g brown or white mushrooms, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme (optional)
- 330 ml gluten-free beer (the darker, the better)
- 500 ml store-bought or homemade beef stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Tamari, or store-bought or homemade gluten-free Worcester sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 handful of fresh parsley
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Gluten-Free Flaky Pastry
- 1 egg yolk mixed with a pinch of salt
- 1 tsp water
Beef & Ale Pie Filling
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F.
- Mix the cornflour with the salt and white pepper in a medium bowl.
- Using a paper towel, dry the beef pieces to remove any excess moisture.
- Add the beef pieces to the cornflour mixture and coat them well. Alternatively, the beef can be flour-coated in a clean plastic bag by shaking the bag. This gives a very even coating.
- Heat a deep oven-proof casserole dish or Dutch oven to med-high heat.
- Add the olive oil, followed by the beef in several batches. I use an extra frying pan to fry the additional batches to speed up this step.
- Once the beef is seared on all sides, remove and cover the beef to a plate, and turn down the heat to medium.
- Add the butter and leeks or onions. Fry for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the carrots, mushrooms, garlic and thyme leaves. Fry for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Return the seared beef pieces to the pot and add the beer, stirring well and scraping the bottom of the pot for any residue.
- Add the beef stock and tomato paste, Tamari or Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf, mixing well.
- Add the whole sprig of thyme and cover the pot with a secure oven-proof lid and place it in the preheated oven on the lowest shelf.
- Slow cook the beef for 2 hours stirring occasionally. After 2 hours, The beef should fall apart if pressed with a fork. If not, allow another 30 minutes or longer to get to this tender stage.
- Add the parsley, salt and pepper, taste and add more seasoning if needed.
GLUTEN-FREE FLAKY PASTRY
- Freeze the butter cubes for 10 mins.
- Sift the gluten-free plain flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.
- Quickly rub in the cold butter pieces using the tip of your fingers, two knives or a paddle attachment if using a stand mixer, until most of the butter has blended into the flour. Don't worry if you can see specks or streaks of butter in the dough, this is a good sign that it hasn't been over-mixed.
- Add the cold water and lemon juice gradually, mixing well with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment on the stand mixer.
- As soon as the dough comes together, stop mixing and cover it with plastic film. Chill the dough for 10 mins.
Assembling the pies
- Preheat the oven temperature to 230°C/450°F.
- Roll out the pastry to ½ cm thick between a sheet of baking paper at the base and plastic film over the top, to prevent the pastry from sticking.
- Cut out a circle measuring the top of the pie dish and press a small round or square cutter in the middle of the pastry circle. Alternatively, use your knife to form a small shape. This is important as it lets out the steam from the beef filling while baking.
- Fill each pie dish with the beef and ale filling.
- Place the pastry circle onto the top of each pie dish and using a fork or knife, mark the edges in a uniform pattern as a decorative border.
- Mix the egg yolk, salt and water to create an egg wash and brush each pastry top with the egg wash.
- For a decorative touch, use a clover-shaped cutter or any design to cut out several pieces from the excess pastry. Place them on top of the pastry top and brush the pieces with the egg wash.
Baking the pies
- Bake the beef & ale pies in the oven on the middle shelf for 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool down slightly before serving.
- Serve with some steamed parsley potatoes, mint peas and your favourite condiments.
- Keeps for 3 days chilled
- Beef & ale filling is suitable to freeze
- Uncooked gluten-free flaky pastry is suitable to freeze