What is a Steak Pie?
A steak pie refers to a savory meat dish enjoyed as a part of traditional British and Scottish cuisine. The dish is basically steak, vegetables, and gravy cooked inside of a pastry shell. The meat pie is somewhat similar to chicken pot pie, an American classic consisting of chicken, chicken gravy, and vegetables cooked inside a flaky pastry shell.
In a basic version of the steak pie, beef meat is seared in a skillet until browned on both sides or placed in a pressure cooker. An onion is usually added and cooked until tender, and mushrooms can also be sautéed and added to the dish. Other vegetables that are sometimes added to the savory pies include carrots, potatoes, and a tomato puree. After cooking the meat and vegetables, gravy can be made, and the entire dish can be allowed to continue cooking until tender on the stove or in the oven. If the gravy is not made from scratch, it is often made using a dry gravy mix or beef stock.
Once the stew is done, it is cooked inside a pie crust. Scottish steak pies are usually cooked inside of a rectangular-shaped puff pastry shell. In some versions, the crust is placed only on top of the casserole dish. In the traditional version, however, the bottom and top of the dish are both usually lined with crust. The pastry is customarily cooked with the dish and not precooked, allowing the crust to soak up the flavor of the dish.
Potatoes are often served as a side dish to the steak pie. They are normally served mashed or as chips, the name for fries in some parts of the world. The fries are usually garnished with salt and vinegar or covered in chippie sauce, a thin brown condiment found mainly in the Edinburgh region of Scotland. The exact ingredients of the sauce are debated, but ingredients reportedly included in some versions include malt vinegar, bacon, and various spices.
Steak pie is usually made from stewing steak. This cut of beef is suited for slow stewing with lots of moisture to make the tougher cut of meat tender and juicy. Alternatively, beef stew meat, round steak, or other cuts of beef are used in some variations of the recipe. One variation is steak and kidney pie, a popular British savory pie made with beef and diced kidneys from sheep or veal. Beef sausages are another popular addition in some variations.
In Scotland, the steak pie is a part of everyday cuisine but is also typically served during celebrations. Most notably, the pie is served on New Year's Day. Parties typically start the night before and include eating steak pie while enjoying other festivities to ring in the New Year.
I got kind of burned out on steak pie when I went to Scotland. My friends were really weird about what they would eat, and they didn't want anything "weird," so we bought a lot of steak pies and split them for our meals. It got kind of old. That was several years ago, so I might be ready to try one again.
I have to say it really irritated me about their eating. I'm kind of an adventurous eater (no haggis, though), so I was ready to try a lot of the local food, like the pub grub, which is really good. I did get out a couple of times to check out the local places, but we stuck pretty close to the tourist trail. I want to go back with the husband and do a real life trip through Scotland.
In the US, we call it "beef pot pie." Same idea. I've made steak pie and it is so good. It's kind of labor intensive to get it right, but if you want a good dish, it's worth the trouble. I usually use stew meat and I cut it up some, and then sprinkle it with flour and braise it in my iron skillet. That really tenderizes the meat, and then it gets even more tender inside the pie.
Most people who eat beef do like steak pie. It's savory, hearty, has a good crust and nearly always tastes good. What's not to like?
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