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    Braised Beef with Thyme Pastry Tops

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    Braised Beef with Thyme Pastry Tops

    Slow-cooked braises are perfect for making in advance, and can taste even better after being refrigerated for 1-2 days, before re-heating and serving. This wonderfully rich braise is quick and easy to make, and is packed with flavour.

    • Preparation time: Prepare 20 minutes, plus cooling time
    • Cooking time: 180 minutes
    • Total time: 3 hours 35 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 35 minutes

    Serves: 8


    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2kg diced braising steak
    • 2 onions, halved and finely sliced
    • 3 tbsp plain flour
    • 1 tbsp English mustard powder
    • 5 fresh bay leaves, torn in half
    • 6 fresh sprigs thyme
    • 250g pack soft pitted prunes
    • 2 x 500ml bottles Guinness
    • 2 x 500g packs Saxby’s Puff Pastry
    • A little milk, to glaze


    1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Place a large flameproof casserole dish over a high heat on the hob. Add the oil and, when sizzling, add a small handful of the beef. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until well browned. Remove from the dish and set aside. Return the dish to the heat and repeat this process, cooking the beef in small batches until all the meat is browned. Set aside.
    2. Return the empty casserole dish to the heat and add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Stir in the flour and mustard powder, and cook for about 1 minute. Add the bay leaves, 2 sprigs of thyme and the prunes to the dish, then gradually stir in the browned meat.
    3. Steadily pour the Guinness over the beef mixture and stir well. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven. Cook for 2½ hours until the sauce is rich and thick, and the meat is tender. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge until needed – for up to 2 days. Remove the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme, then spoon the cooled beef mixture into 8 small ovenproof serving dishes, about 10-12cm wide.
    4. Roll out the pastry until about 5mm thick, stopping halfway to sprinkle the remaining thyme leaves over the top so they embed themselves in the pastry as you roll. Cut the pastry into 8 even circles and place them on top of the dishes. Use a sharp knife to trim the excess pastry away from the edge, then use the tip of the knife to make a little nick in the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge until needed.
    5. When ready to cook, remove the pies from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Place the pie dishes on a baking sheet and brush the tops with a little milk. Bake the pies for about 25 minutes until golden and risen. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with plenty of creamy mash and seasonal vegetables.

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    Cook's tips

    If you are preparing the pies in advance and then chilling before cooking, it is essential they are covered with clingfilm. If the pastry becomes dry, it will not rise properly.


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    5 stars