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Sea Pie/Pot Pie Recipe
A beef stew with a suet crust lid. It obtained its name, as it was essential shipboard food - being a complete meal in a pan. Nowadays, it's more likely to be made in a casserole.
Although not traditional, the suet crust pastry can be replaced with bought puff pastry - although these vary in quality, and all-butter versions are worth the extra expense.
Filo pastry - brushed with butter between 3 layers, is another modern alternative.
For 6 generous helpings:
2 oz/60gr Plain White Flour, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper
2 lbs/900gr Stewing Beef – Skirt is best if you can find it, as its glutinous layer produces a delicious rich stew
12 rashers of Streaky Bacon, cut into 1 in/2.5cm pieces
2 oz/60gr Butter
2 medium Onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons Dried Mixed Herbes (although not traditional, like the garlic, Herbes de Provence will give the dish a lift – the best comes from www.gourmetherbs.co.uk)
1 big Carrot, peeled and sliced
2 Celery Stalks, any strings removed (if there are any) cut into small pieces
1 Parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
2 pints/1.1 litres Beef Stock (if using cubes, use just one)
1 tablespoon (15ml) Tomato Puree
½ pint/300ml Red Wine (optional, but adds character)
8 oz/250gr Plain Flour
2 teaspoons (10ml) Baking Powder
½ teaspoon (2ml) Salt
4 oz/225gr Shredded Suet
3-4 tablespoons (60ml) Water
Equipment: a flame-proof casserole, with a fitting lid, big enough to hold all the ingredients
1. Cut the beef into large cubes – about 1½ ins/4cm
2. Cut these with the seasoned flour, so they are well coated.
3. Gently fry the bacon pieces in the casserole to extract most of its fat, remove the bacon and set aside.
4. Add half the butter to the casserole with its bacon fat, and over a medium heat seal the beef cubes by turning them around in the casserole so each side has browned.
5. Remove the beef cubes as they brown, thus giving you more room to finish the rest. Set them aside.
6. Add the remaining butter, when it foams, add the onions, carrot, celery and parsley – and cook for 5 minutes turning occasionally.
7. Return the beef and bacon to the pan, add the beef stock, wine if using, the herbs, garlic and tomato puree. Mix well together.
8. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture barely simmers – cover with a lid, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
9. While this is happening, make the pastry.
10. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, then stir in the suet. Add most of the water and stir until you have a stiff dough. Add the remaining water if the dough seems too dry.
11. Roll out the dough, on a lightly-floured surface, until it's ½ ins/1 cm thick.
12. Using the lid of the casserole, cut a circle out of the pastry.
13. Put the pastry on top of the meat mixture and cover with the lid.
14. Return to a very low heat and cook for a further 1½ hours. Don't at any time remove the lid, as the steam it holds in will encourage the pastry to rise.
Serve straight from the casserole.