25 September 2014

Beef and Bacon Pie - Classic Pub Food

The rant is nothing new here. Sit me down with a good bottle of beer and a good plate of pub food and I am in heaven. Well folks, here you go with another in my list of great recipes for pub fare.

This beef and bacon pie is an old (and I DO mean old!) recipe. This particular version of beef and bacon pie can be traced back to a book of receipts from 1545. Yup ... it's a classic mince meat pie that is sweetened with the addition of a small handful each of raisins, dates, and prunes. The bacon is fried to release the fats and then leeks are added to wilt. Bits of beef chuck are added with copious amounts of black pepper, a pinch of allspice and coarse salt, a splash of red wine vinegar and red wine.

Then, beef broth finishes the sauce and the whole mess gets a slow braise for a bit. The broth is thickened to a smooth gravy and cooled before the pie is assembled.  The secret to the pie is a super chilled crust and an oven that's ready for baking the moment the top crust has been brushed with egg. This is such a pretty pie, especially if one takes the time to embellish the top crust with some dough art!

You end up with a rich meat pie that is sweet and sour with the sweet fruits and the tangy sour sauce created with that red wine vinegar. Plated with some simple roasted carrots and steamed green beans with buttered almonds, this is a fine supper - and it demands a beer that has a lot of body and a fair amount of malt that will stand up to the flavours. I chose a coffee brown dubbel ale from the Ommegang Brewery of Cooperstown, New York called Abbey Ale. It has a really rich and softly sweet malty flavour and a foamy head that stays true for a good while after being poured. The sweet fruitiness of the ale perfectly complements the pie's tangy sweetness!

...Pub food and beer ... a natural for a Friday night... 

Now, to be honest. I planned this supper to fulfill a promise I made to a representative of Vegas,com's webpage. You gotta love a group of people that will organize a foodfest that revolves around good beers and that's exactly what the folks in Vegas have done. Saturday, September 27th will bring beer hounds and foodies to the Desert Hops celebration at the Cosmopolitan Hotel - Las Vegas to tilt a few cool ones that have been paired with the perfect food offerings. In celebration (and in order to promote) the event, I was invited to try my hand at pairing a fave brew with a killer dish. So, there you have it, Jennifer!

... my take on a good brew and a tasty bite ...

Beef and Bacon Pie
an adapted recipe from A Propre New Booke of Cokery -1545
further adapted from how it appears in A Feast of Ice and Fire


½ c. bacon, cut into small pieces
1 ½ lb. chuck steak, cut into small dice
1 leek, washed well, whites and some of the green, sliced into thin half-moons
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. coarse salt
A pinch of allspice
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. dry red wine
⅓ c. each diced dates, prunes and raisins
2 c. strong beef broth, divided
3 tbsp. flour or cornstarch

Pie crust for a double crust pie, well chilled

1 egg, beaten for brushing the crust

Making the Pie:

  1. Prepare the pie crust dough and wrap it well. Chill for at least two hours.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the bacon bits in the bottom of a heavy Dutch oven until crisped.
  3. Add the leek half moons and wilt them.
  4. Add the beef mince, spices, red wine vinegar, red wine, and fruits. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat, add 1 ½ cups of the beef broth measure. Cover and simmer the mix for about half an hour.
  6. Mix the flour and the remaining ½ c. of the beef broth measure to make a slurry.
  7. Add to the braising meat and stir to make a smooth, shiny gravy.
  8. Cover the pot and turn off the heat, letting the mixture continue to tenderize the meat and slowly cool.
  9. Pre heat the oven to 375° F.
  10. Pull the dough from the fridge and divide in half. Roll the dough on a floured surface. Use extra dough bits to create some pretty decorations for the top crust.
  11. Line the bottom of a deep dish pie plate. Turn the cooled meat and gravy into the pie pan and top with the second crust. Crimp the outer edges to seal the pie.
  12. Brush the top crust with the beaten egg, add the decorations and brush them as well. Poke a couple steam vent holes in the top crust and bake the pie immediately.
  13. Pie will bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden and shiny and you can hear the juices bubbling.
  14. Cool the pie on a rack for about a half hour before serving.


  1. Oh good lord yes please. Utter utter perfect food. Rich meat sauce. Gorgeous pastry. Good company. A glass of cold beer. Heaven!

  2. I love this pie.
    I tried to make it few months ago but it didn't turned out beautiful as yours :-)

    1. Manu! You KNOW how I love to fuss with pies! I did fiddle with the recipe too, as the amount of vinegar that was initially recommended seemed too much ... so red wine was added to mellow things out. PLUS I added leeks to the bacon to give the sauce more body. I thought the pie improved the next day in flavour. How about you? Next time I bake it, I plan to make it a day before I want to serve it ...

  3. Your presentations of the food you make are always so beautiful. This reminds me of something that my mom would make. Mmmmmm....

  4. And a beautiful pie it is Susan. My favourite as a kid was chicken pot pie, but if this had have been on the menu this would have changed.


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