Steak and Mushroom Cobbler Pie
A cobbler, in the culinary sense, is a rough-and-ready pie, or pastry crust. It’s thought to date back to early American settlers who had to improvise with ingredients as well as cooking implements, pots and pans. Fruit cobblers are covered with a light, soft scone mix, but the rich flavour and dense texture of suet pastry suits meaty pies like this. Skirt steak, incidentally, is extremely lean with a texture that cooks up like loose corduroy. It is very good value an usually sold in one piece. The flavour will be vastly improved if the pie filling is cooked 24 hours in advance, then reheated from cold when the crust is added for the final cooking.
|2 tbsp||vegetable oil|
|a knob of butter|
|2-3||sticks of celery (125g)|
|salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|1kg||skirt steak or stewing steak|
|flour for dusting|
|a few sprigs of thyme|
|2 tbsp||chopped parsley|
|For the crust:|
|2 tbsp||cold water|
|1 tsp||baking powder|
|100g||packet of prepared suet|
|1 tsp||finely chopped thyme|
|2 tbsp||finely chopped flat-leaf parsley|
Heat the oven to 150˚C/gas mark 2. Peel, halve and slice one onion; peel, halve and chop the other. Heat the oil and butter in a spacious Le Creuset-style lidded pan and gently soften the onion with the bay leaf. Peel and dice the celery and carrot into dolly-mixture-size pieces and stir them into the onion. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Dice the steak into large kebab-size pieces. Dust with flour. Scoop the onions into a sieve over the pan so that the oil drains back. Increase the heat slightly and brown the steak in batches, removing it to a plate. Return the onions and steak to the pan, then mix thoroughly while adding the thyme and the wine. Stir to loosen the flour as it bubbles, then put in the wiped, halved mushrooms and the stock. It will seem a terrible squash but the mushrooms will soon flop. Bring to the boil, stirring, then turn off the heat. Cut a piece of baking parchment to cover the pan, letting it sag to touch the food. Hold it secure with the lid and trim off the excess. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 2 hours. Take it out, let it cool, then chill overnight.
Heat the oven to 220˚C/gas mark 7. To make the crust, whisk together half of the beaten egg with the water. Sift the flour into a bowl, then mix in the baking powder, suet, a pinch of salt and the herbs. Gradually add the egg mixture and work it with the flour into a stiff but elastic dough; you may need a little more water. Chill in a plastic bag until required. Pat or roll the pastry to make a thick lid or, if simpler, into 6 patties. Place the lid over the steak. Glaze it with the remaining egg, beaten with the milk. Make a central air hole. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is puffy and golden. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.