Healthy Beef Pie
By Teresa Cutter
What's great about it
Here's my popular healthy version of a beef pie. This is based on a traditional French Style beef bourguignon recipe I learnt to make years ago as an apprentice chef. The first key secret lies in the quality of the beef you use. For this, I've used beef cheeks that I purchased from my local butcher. What I love about them is that they respond exceptionally well to long slow braising - each piece is tender and moist and basically melts in the mouth when you eat it. I've used lots of onion that helps to thicken as well as flavour the sauce and a little star anise that adds that special touch and marries perfectly with the red wine used in the recipe.
1 kg beef cheeks or chuck trimmed and cut into large chunks
4 onions, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, smashed
few sprigs of thyme
2 cups good quality red wine
1 litre (4 cups) water
2 star anise
500 g mushrooms – quartered/halved (see notes)
Spelt and olive oil shortcrust
Combine 125 g (1 cup) wholemeal spelt flour with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ cup (60 ml) water and a pinch sea salt. Form a soft dough and rest for 30 minutes. Divide into 4 pieces and roll each piece into thin round disks between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper. Brush the top of each disk with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes 180°C. Use as required.
Gluten Free shortcrust
Combine 2 cups (200g) almond meal, ½ cup sesame seeds (reserving some to garnish tops), a pinch of sea salt and 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed. Add 1 organic egg and 2-3 tbsp water to mix into a soft dough. Divide dough into small portions and roll each portion into round disks between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper. Brush the top of each disk with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C and enjoy as needed.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and brown the beef on each side for a few minutes.
- Place the beef in a heavy-based/cast iron casserole dish.
- Deglaze the frying pan by adding 2 cups of red wine then add it to the casserole dish.
- Clean your frying pan and sauté the onions over a medium heat until golden brown.
- Add the onions, mushrooms, thyme, star anise and water to the casserole dish and stir well.
- Cover well with foil so all sides are completely sealed.
- Cook for approx 3 - 4 hours or until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened. Check halfway through and add a little more water or beef stock if required.
- Taste and check, season with a little sea salt and pepper if required.
- Thicken if necessary by reducing the stock or by mixing in 1 - 2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in a little water.
- Enjoy with or without the short-crust pastry.
Notes and Inspiration
I've given two options for the shortcrust if you decide to include it in the meal. A delicious wholemeal spelt and olive oil crust as well as a gluten-free almond and sesame crust.
This pie can also be served with cauliflower mash and green peas.
Beef cheeks are used for braising or slow cooking and produce a delicious and tender meat. Order them ahead from your butcher and get them to clean it up for you.
If beef cheeks are not available, use chuck or another good braising beef.
Mushrooms can be replaced by 1 large carrot.