I got really excited about the royal wedding. So much so that I was inspired to dedicate my favourite pie to the happy couple. Without being soppy, pies are about sharing; they’re comforting, down-to-earth, humble and luxurious at the same time, and this one in particular is definitely fit for a (future) king and queen. One of the best things about our great British pies is that they look so grand, yet they’re also a great way of using up the less-loved cuts of meat, which are so delicious when they’re given time and a little attention.
If you want to cook the pie from cold another day cook at 170°C/325°F/gas 3 for 1 hour 10 minutes.
For the filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 knob of butter
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
3 fresh bay leaves
3 medium red onions, peeled
1kg shin of beef (ask the butcher to cut it into 2.5cm dice and give you the bone)
sea salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato purée
400ml good local smooth stout
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
1.5 litres organic beef or chicken stock
140g pearl barley
3 teaspoons English mustard
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, to taste
100g good Cheddar cheese
For the pastry
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g Atora shredded suet
1 large free-range egg, beaten
Put the olive oil, butter and herbs into a large casserole-type pan (roughly 24cm in diameter and 12cm deep) on a high heat. Roughly chop and add the onions, with the diced meat, the shin bone and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Mix well, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato purée, stout, flour and stock and stir until everything comes together to a simmer.
Turn the heat down very low, pop the lid on and let it cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. When the hour is up, stir in the pearl barley. Put the lid back on and simmer for another hour, then remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes, or until the meat shreds easily and the gravy is thick. Spoon away any oil from the top, then stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and finely grate in the cheese. Season to taste.
While the stew is ticking away, put the flour, suet and butter into a bowl with a good pinch of salt. Use your thumbs and forefingers to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles cornflake shapes. Lightly stir in 125ml of cold water, then use your hands to gently pat and push it together into a rough dough. Do not overwork it. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put into the fridge until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Discard the shin bone and ladle the hot meaty stew into the pie dish (24 x 30cm, and about 4cm deep, is about right). Use some of the beaten egg to eggwash the edges of the pie dish, then dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry about 1cm thick and a little bit bigger than your pie dish. Carefully place on top of the pie, then trim off any overhanging pastry. Pinch and squash the edges of the pastry to the dish. Eggwash the top, and cook the pie right at the bottom of the hot oven for around 45 to50 minutes, or until your pastry is golden and gorgeous. Serve with steamed drained greens.
Recipe © Jamie Oliver 2011. www.jamieoliver.com. Photography © David Loftus 2011. Recipes taken from Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver published by Michael Joseph, £30. www.penguin.co.uk.