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Crusted Slow-Cooked Pie

Ingredients

For a family of 4

- you'll need

a) For the filling

2kg stewing steak, such as skirt, shin, brisket, cheek or tail, trimmed of excess fat, but leave in all the gristle, then cut into 3cm cubes
80g plain flour
Salt and pepper
50ml vegetable oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 litre stock or water
50ml Worcestershire sauce
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks

b) For the lard pastry

200g lard, at room temperature
400g self-raising flour, sifted
1 pinch salt
180ml cold water
1 egg
A little milk

Preparation

It's fine to use bought puff pastry, but lard pastry works well as it soaks up some of the liquid. To make a great pie, the meat has to be cooked for a long time, slowly, but you want it to be succulent, so only use shin, skirt, cheek or tail. These have plenty of sinew and a little fat so the meat stays together and is moist.

Shake the meat and flour in a plastic bag with some salt and pepper – a quick way of coating the meat in the flour with no mess.

Heat a heavy-based pan over medium heat and add the oil. When hot, fry the onions for about three minutes. Add the floured meat and cook until coloured, about 10 minutes. Pour in the stock (or water) and add the sauce. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about two hours. Add the potatoes and cook gently for a further one hour.

Make the pastry. Rub the lard into the flour and salt, or put in a food processor and mix, until resembling breadcrumbs. Add the water bit by bit and mix to a dough. Season.

Heat the oven to 190C (gas 5). Three-quarters fill an ovenproof pie dish with the meat mixture. Roll out the pastry to 3cm thick and cut into a shape large enough to cover the top of the dish. Beat the egg and milk and brush over the rim of the dish. Press the edges of the pastry down firmly. Brush with the egg wash, then cut a small hole in the middle for steam. Bake for 40 minutes. If the pastry edges become too brown, protect with some foil.