19 January 2012
The pie for me is a timeless british traditional dish....when it is done right. Im not a fan of stodgy food that leaves you feeling like youve eaten a Rhino, but l am a fan of being full and satisfied after my food. I like to enjoy what l eat, whilst getting what my body needs.
For this recipe l tried to make an all in one meal, as such. This has the nutrients of the bone stock, the protein and natural fat from the meat, the goodness from the vegetables and of course the almond based pastry topping.
This recipe was pretty much an experiment. The bone stock is something that l wanted to try for a while, but when l had it l wanted to put it to better use than another soup recipe. I thought of a stew, then it evolved into the pie. Having looked around a little online there did not appear to be many paleo pies about that didnt have a form of mashed lid....so l thought l would take a risk and give this a try. I have to admit that l wasnt confident as it was cooking, but the end result was absolutely delicious.
The ingredients for a decent sized paleo pie are as follows;
500g diced stewing steak
4.5 cups of bone stock - prep for this is required, along with some beef bones.
2 red onions
1 large parsnip
A medium sized floret of brocolli
3 cups of Ground almonds (or even better a bag of skin on whole almonds that you can ground yourself)
Salt, pepper, mixed herbs
Ideally if you have one, a slow cooker would also be of benefit.
PLEASE NOTE THAT AN ELEMENT OF THIS RECIPE REQUIRES AN OVERNIGHT COOKING OF THE BONES IN ORDER TO GET YOUR STOCK/BONE BROTH RIGHT.
I got my bones from a local butcher. Generally they only cost a few £. For those of us that live in Plymouth the best time of the week to get them is on a Thursday. Once made your stock can have many uses, for example, a base for a paleo gravy, a soup, or even frozen in portions in an ice cube tray to add to something like a stir fry. For more information on bone broths and their health benefits, click here
STEP 1 - place your beef bones into a slow cooker and cover them with water. Initially put the bones on a high heat until the water is almost bubbling. After this has happened, turn the bones down to a low heat and leave them for 12/14 hours. Ideally overnight is best, the longer you allow, the better the stock and its nutritional content.
STEP 2 - Once your stock has had its period of cooking allow it to cool a little. As it cools you should find that some fat will form on the top, skim this off to either save for other cooking or to dispose of as you see fit.
STEP 3 - After skimming, pour the contents of the slow cooker through a seive. You should find that you are left with a light brown liquid. This is your completed stock.
STEP 4 - get a bowl, place a covering of ground almonds into the bottom and mix it with salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Once you have done this put your diced stewing steak pieces in, making sure that they are evenly covered.
STEP 5 - Heat up a large pan or wok, add a teaspoon of coconut oil and place the pieces of steak in once it is up to a moderate heat. Lightly brown the pieces of steak in the coconut oil.
STEP 6 - whilst this is taking place, cut up all of your vegetables and dice the red onion. Place your carrot, parsnip and brocolli into a pan with water and part boil them for around 10 minutes.
STEP 7 - now that your steak pieces should have browned, add your red onion and mix in with the meat. You may find that the ground almonds make the pan a little slushy if there is too much coconut oil in there. If this happens, dont worry it will all come good near the end.
STEP 8 - once the onions have browned off a little add 3 cups of your bone stock, a good amount of your mixed herbs, along with salt and pepper to season. This will initially look like an absolute mess, but dont worry. Leave on the heat for around 60/70 minutes. The result that you are after is the stock reducing so that it covers the meat and onions like a thick sauce. Combined with the seasoned ground almond this comes out really well. If it takes less or more time, dont worry. Get that end result where the meat is nicely covered in a thickened style sauce.
STEP 9 - whilst the stock is reducing and flavoring your meat, take your vegetables off the boil and drain. You then want to put the vegetables into the dish that you intend the pie to be cooked in when in the oven. Put this to the side.
STEP 10 - now for the pastry for the pie. Get a mixing bowl and put 2/3 cups of ground almond in. If you have a food processor, l would suggest blending some skin on whole almonds in your food processor instead. That way l found that l could make the almonds a little more coarse than the pre-ground which adds something to the pastry and its texture. Now season the almonds with salt, pepper and herbs to make them taste more savory. Work on the principe that 1 cup of ground almond along with 1 egg white will be the right ratio for a portion of pastry. If your pie dish is bigger/smaller reduce or add to that amount accordingly. Dont throw away your seperated egg yolks as we will use them to glaze the pastry in a few more steps.
STEP 11 - the pastry will not be that easy to work with at this point. Lay out some greaseproof paper and put your pastry mix in the middle in a ball, then flatten a little. Next put another sheet of greaseproof paper on top and roll it flat with a rolling pin or pressing by hand. Again the thickness of your pastry is a personal preference, but bear in mind the thicker that it is, the longer it will need to cook. Take a piece off the end of the rolled out mixture, this wants to be enough so that when it is rolled into a thin sausage it will go around the circumference of your pie dish to finish off the rough edge. The easiest way to do this is to take the piece, roll it into a ball and put it into the freezer for 30 mins wrapped in cling film. Once your happy with your flat pastry, put this in the freezer too. For this to get to the point where its pliable enough to make the lid properly l would say leave it in the freezer for about 45 mins, again depending on its thickness. If it gets too hard, dont worry leave it at room temp for a few mins and it will soon be just right.
STEP 12 - once your meat and stock has reduced add your raw mushrooms to the pan and stir in so that they are coated in the sauce. Once this is done, add all of the contents of the pan to your vegetables in your pie dish, scrape that sauce out, get it all in. Once this is all mixed together and evenly covered, pour in your remaining cup and a half of bone stock. This will make the mixture look watery, but again its going back in the oven so dont worry. At this point pre heat your oven to 175 degrees.
STEP 13 - by the time that your meat has reduced and everything has been mixed together its time to get your pastry out of the freezer. Remove the top sheet of greaseproof paper and put the pastry face down once the top of your pie dish so the remaining sheet of greaseproof paper is against your hand. Once this has been applied remove the other sheet of greaseproof paper and cut your edges with a sharp knife to fit your dish. Take put your ball of pastry and roll it into a long thin, sausage shape. Put this on the top of the pastry around the circumference of the dish to finish it off nicely. Then get a sharp knife and make a hole in the centre of the pastry lid to allow steam to escape and prevent getting soggy pastry. As a finishing touch, glaze the pastry lid with your egg yolk put aside from earlier on.
STEP 14 - place the finished pie into the oven for around 40 mins, checking regularly for the browning of the almond pie top. Again the cooking time really depends on the thickness of your pastry and size of the dish. The touch test works, if you touch it and it feels firm, then its cooked. I found it best to use the outer thicker piece to check rather than the thinner lid.
STEP 15 remove from the oven, cut into portions and....tuck in and enjoy!
As you can see my batch came out pretty well!
I was over the moon with how this came out and was taken by surprise by how good it tasted. Its something than can be fairly versatile and made with other meats and stocks such as chicken, lamb or fish. The vegetables that you add can be varied to make new flavors, along with adding different herbs and spices to the pastry for the lid.
The stewing steak is a fairly cheap cut of meat, but literally fell apart in my mouth with the soft veg, just before getting that crunch from the lid that was enfused with herbs and seasoned perfectly. If your a fan of hearty dishes that paleo doesnt generally provide, give this a try. Its a regular dish for me from now on!