Sunday 21 April 2013

Recipe - Classic: Steak / Beef and Onion Pie (or Oxtail & Prune Pie w/ Red Cabbage)

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

OK I'm going to have a rant for a moment. Something I've often been presented with when ordering a pie is some kind of china bowl or ramekin with a bit of pastry almost hovering on top, as if they had been combined by accident, having nothing to do with each other. It's as if a bowl of stew was being stalked by a bit of pastry that always wanted to be a pie but somehow never made the grade. As far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't have a pastry bottom it isn't a pie! (Ahem . . . . . with the small exception of my Christmas left over turkey pie!! That doesn't count - it's Christmas and it's left overs!!)

Anyway rant over . . . . .  and thoughts turn to PIE! Can't beat a good pie! Even better if it's got a bottom!! Not a soggy bottom, mind you, we can't be doing with that!!


ingredients (makes 2 pies)
for the oxtail & prune pureé filling

2.5kg oxtail
750g (10) med onions (peeled & cut into 6ths)

100ml extra virgin olive oil
20g thyme (bouquet garni)
8 cloves garlic (cut into 1/4s lengthways)
750ml red wine
20 prunes (pitted)

3L chicken stock
plain flour for dusting
cinnamon powder

for the pie case
2x 375g puff pastry (want to make your own? here's how)

1 egg (beaten)
splash milk

for the red cabbage & beetroot
600g red cabbage (sliced)
2 beetroots (peeled, then 1 cm cubes)
300ml water
600ml tawny port
50g salted butter (small cubes)

special equipment
rubber gloves for beetroot
stick blender
2x 23cm loose bottomed tin (circular)

oxtail & prune pureé filling
Trim all the excess fat off the larger pieces of oxtail.
Season and coat the oxtail in flour and fry off in a pan until golden brown, then add to the boiling pot.
Oxtail usually comes held together with a piece of butcher's string.
You can use this to make a bouquet garni with the thyme: take the thyme, fold it in half, tie it with the string and add it to the pot.
Add the onions, prunes, red wine, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and pour in enough chicken stock to cover the meat by 1cm.
Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer, leaving the lid off.
Top up with chicken stock occasionally to keep the water level above the meat.

The oxtail should be ready after about 2.5 hours. When it is, remove it with a slotted spoon into a tray and pick the meat off the bone, it should fall away with very little effort.

Remove the bouquet garni and dispose of it. Pass the stock through a sieve and return it to the pot, reduce until it is a thick sauce.
Once reduced, return the contents of the sieve and the picked oxtail to the sauce. Mix it together. That's the pie filling ready.

pie casing

Rub the pie tin with a little oil or butter so the pastry doesn't stick to it.
Line the tin with pastry - this is the base - then using a brush, paint the pastry with beaten egg. This water proofs your base so when you fill it you don't end up with a soggy bottom - no body want a soggy bottom! Now you could cover the pastry with oven proof paper and fill it with dry beans and blind bake it. or you can, as you can see from the pics, chuck it directly into
the oven and bake it as is. 200C for 15mins. 15 minutes is enough to seal the pastry with egg and almost completely cook it.

Once the base is out of the oven, fill it with the (hot) spectacularly tasty filling. Add a splash of milk to the beaten egg and whisk it in, then brush around the edges of the pastry - so the top sticks to it. Place the pastry top on and trim it with a pair of scissors.

Throw it back into the oven 200C for 20mins.

red cabbage & beetroot in port reduction

Add the cabbage and the water to a pot with a lid and bring to the boil.
After 3 mins add the beetroot cubes and replace the lid.

After 2 mins more remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate until there is almost none left.
In a separate small pot (without a lid) bring
the port to the boil and reduce by 3/4 to 150ml.

what could go wrong? (TIPS)
My reduction burnt! TIP: Watch anything you are reducing like a hawk. To begin with, it will seem like it will never reduce, but the more it reduces the faster it goes, and it will evaporate completely and burn if you don't keep an eye on it in the final stages!

I burnt my kitchen down! TIP: When reducing alcoholic liquids, be careful. Always keep the lid at hand so that if they catch fire, you can simply put the lid on to put it out. (or let it burn off carefully!)

to serve
Turn out the pie! Easy way to do this is to put the loose bottomed tin onto a tuna tin (better be line caught and not blue fin tuna!) and gently push down the rim of the tin revealing the fabulous pie . . . chef bursts into song with pride, and does a quick victory dance!! Cut up and serve immediately with some cabbage and beetroot!

thinking ahead
You can make the cabbage in the afternoon, and reheat it in minutes when you need it.


  1. Looks so good, thanks for sharing this recipe.


  2. My pleasure, I love slowly cooked oxtail, and combined with pie . . fabulous winter fare!!!


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