Beef and ale tale

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Having interviewed Lorraine Kelly last week I was really keen to crack on with making her beef and ale pie, which is her recipe as part of the Tesco Real Food Challenge, but of course I had to wait until the stars were in the right conjunction … or rather, for a moment when the builders weren’t in the kitchen, doing unspecified banging and stamping and causing great clouds of inedible dust to coat every surface.

My moment eventually came and I swooped – a process hastened by lovely Tesco doing all the shopping for me. If I’d had to actually buy the stuff, as well as pounce on the kitchen and cook it all, we’d still be waiting now.

The recipe is very Lorraine – it’s heartwarming, it’s not artsy-fartsy and it’s easy to get on with. I soon found myself doing my prep like a hardened chef, with the chopped onions and mushrooms flying hither and thither.



I had to improvise on the large pan to simmer the lot in, as most of our pots and pans are still in the garage, which has been barricaded for months with a skip up to here in rubble. So I used a wok to sear the beef in, and then, as it was reasonably roomy, I simmered everything in it too.


I was a bit stuck when the recipe suddenly called for a lid – I think there was once a half-lid thing with this wok but I’m not sure it made it home from Ikea -but I found an upturned frying pan covered everything up pretty well. Now came the two-hour simmer. Luckily, I had to shoot off on the school run at this point, otherwise the delicious scents wafting up would have made me hungry enough to chew my own arm off. So I left the builders salivating.

I returned, with the girls in tow, to do the finishing touches, like roll out the pastry. Slight crisis when it turned out there wasn’t any in with my lovely Tesco food bag! But I made a quick shortcrust.The pie, at this point, had to leave its beloved wok as I was pretty sure I couldn’t put that in the oven. But there was no pie dish big enough – though of course the garage is groaning with them – so it was improvisation time again. This time I used a large square cake tin (the one I ususually do Christmas cake in). The pastry juuuuuust about stretched over the top – a bit like a pair of fine denier tights over a too-chunky thigh – and I popped it into the oven. Twenty-five minutes later we were ready to tuck in and I have to say it was delicious. My ta-da picture is perhaps not as photogenic as I might have wished, but I think given the pie tin etc we just about got away with it.

Anyway, a certain homely charm goes with the whole menu, I think. We ate our pie with broccoli and carrots and jolly yummy it was too. Thank you, Lorraine, it’s a winner.

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