I was very tempted to call this dish “Beef and Guinness Pie” to honour St. Patrick’s Day on 17th March, but as Guinness doesn’t have a gluten-free range (yet!), I am quite happy using one of the many gluten-free beers available. Although the Guinness is missing, the rest of the beef filling is quintessentially Irish. My recipe is straightforward but you’ll need to plan ahead for a few hours of slow cooking. In fact, the beef filling will taste better if made the day before. The flaky pastry can also be made the day before and simply brought out to room temperature an hour before assembling the pie. This pastry gives a nice crispy appearance and has a rich buttery flavour, perfect for beef pies. I would only recommend covering the top of the pie with this type of pastry, as it will become soggy if used as a base. Depending on which country, you live in, there are a number of ready-made gluten-free pastry rolls available, although they are usually expensive, they are convenient to use. My homemade pastry is surprisingly easy to put together – only needing 10 mins of chilling.

Gluten-Free Beef & Ale Pies
Ingredients:

For the beef & ale filling:

  • 1.3 kilos of beef stewing meat (goulash meat in Austria) or beef cheeks, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  •  
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 leek or large onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 400g brown or white mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  •  
  • 330ml gluten-free beer (the darker, the better)
  • 500ml store-bought or homemade beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari or gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the gluten-free flaky pastry:

  • 200g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 200g butter, cold and cubed into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 120ml water, ice-cold
  • 4 drops of lemon juice
  •  
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with a pinch of salt. for the egg wash

 

Step-by-Step Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 C/300 F.
2. Prepare the beef filling first: Mix the cornflour with the salt and white pepper in a medium bowl.
3. Using a paper towel, blot-dry the beef pieces to remove any excess moisture.

4. Add the beef pieces to the flour 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.

5. Place a deep oven-proof casserole pot on med-high heat.
6. Add the olive oil and once hot, add the beef in several batches. I had an extra frying pan to fry the additional batches to speed up this step.
7. Once the beef is seared on all sides, remove the beef to a plate and turn down the heat to medium.
8. Add the butter and leeks or onions. Fry for 5 minutes, stirring often.
9. Add the carrots, mushrooms, garlic and thyme leaves. Fry for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

10. Return the seared beef pieces to the pot and add the beer, stirring well and scraping the bottom of the pot for any residue.

11. Add the beef stock and tomato paste, Tamari or Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf, mixing well.

12. Add the whole sprig of thyme and cover the pot with a secure oven-proof lid and place the pot in the preheated oven on the lowest shelf.

13. Slow cook the beef for 2 hours stirring occasionally after the first hour. The beef should fall apart if pressed with a fork. If not, allow another 30 minutes or longer to get to this tender stage.

14. Add the parsley, salt and pepper, taste and add more seasoning if needed.

15. At this point start to prepare the flaky pastry by sifting the gluten-free plain flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

16. Rub in the cold butter pieces using the tip of your fingers until the flour appears like breadcrumbs.

17. Add the cold water and lemon juice gradually, mixing well with a wooden spoon.

18. Mould the dough into a disc shape and cover it with plastic film. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes or if making the day before, until the next day.

19. When the beef is ready, remove it from the oven and season the beef with fresh parsley, salt and freshly cracked pepper.

20. Allow to cool down slightly before placing the beef and some of the thickened sauce in several pie dishes or one large family-size pie dish.

21. Bring the pastry out to room temperature (if the pastry was made the day before, allow one hour so that it is soft enough to handle).

22. Preheat the oven to 230 C/450 F.

23. Cover the beef filling with the ready-made store-bought or homemade gluten-free flaky pastry by following the assembly instructions below:

1. Roll out the pastry to ½ cm thick between two sheets of baking paper.
2. Cut out a circle slightly larger than the pie dish.
3. Press a small round cookie cutter in the middle of the pastry circle. Alternatively, use your knife to form a small circle. This is important as it lets out the steam from the beef filling while baking.

4. Flip the pastry circle onto the top of the pie dish.

5. Using kitchen scissors, trim the pastry edges, leaving some extra pastry to pinch the pastry edges around the pie dish.

6. Using a clover-shaped cutter, cut out several clovers from the excess pastry.

7. Brush the pastry top with the egg wash.

8. Place the clover pieces on top and brush with the egg wash.

24. Place the pastry-covered pie dishes in the preheated oven on the middle shelf and bake for 8 minutes.

25. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 C/400 F.

26. Bake the pies for a further 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

27. Before turning off the oven, check that the pastry is crisp and cooked through. Bake for a few more minutes if any part of the pastry seems soft.

28. Allow to cool down slightly before serving with some steamed potatoes, peas and your favourite condiments.

Makes 6 individual 10-cm pies or one large family size pie.

These pies go well together with some Gluten-Free Soda Bread.

The beef filling can be cooked in a slow cooker/crockpot on LOW for 6 hours or longer, or HIGH for 4 hours.