What I Liked
I loved the idea of a savory pie. I am very familiar with making sweet pies, with apple being my strong forte. However, savory pies are often overlooked. Everyone knows about chicken pot pie, but what about other savory ingredients. Today I decided to check out this recipe from 1834 for vintage beef steak pie. I liked the idea and even a lot of ingredients that were called for in this recipe. It was something unique and produced quite a show stopper. This is a recipe that could be quite suitable for a dinner party where you want that show-stopping moment.
I felt a spring form pan was the perfect pan to execute this dish. It created a beautiful deep platform to build the perfect pie. The ability to remove the edge of the pan unveiled an incredibly deep pie. It was absolutely beautiful. You can get your own spring form pan here. I like this one because it comes in a set of 3. So you can even do a smaller diameter if needed.
Original Beef Steak Pie Recipe
Butter a deep dish, and spread a sheet of paste all over the bottom, sides, and edge. Cut away from your beef-steak all the bone, fat, gristle, and skin. Cut the lean in small thin pieces, about as large, generally, as the palm of your hand. Beat the meat well with the rolling-pin, to make it juicy and tender. If you put in the fat, it will make the gravy too greasy and strong, as it cannot be skimmed.
Put a layer of meat over the bottom-crust of your dish, and season it to your taste, with pepper, salt, and, if you choose, a little nutmeg. A small quantity of mushroom ketchup is an improvement; so, also, is a little minced onion. Have ready some cold boiled potatoes sliced thin. Spread over the meat, a layer of potatoes, and a small piece of butter; then another layer of meat, seasoned, and then a layer of potatoes, and so on till the dish is full and heaped up in the middle, having a layer of meat on the top. Pour in a little water.
Cover the pie with a sheet of paste, and trim the edges. Notch it handsomely with a knife; and, if you choose, make a tulip of paste, and stick it in the middle of the lid, and lay leaves of paste round it. Fresh oysters will greatly improve a beef-steak pie. So also will mushrooms. Any meat pie may be made in a similar manner.
I felt ground beef is a great choice with this beef steak recipe. It makes slicing the pie much easier. Browning ground beef with the mushrooms and onions allows for an even cook on all ingredients inside the pie. Feel free to season the beef to your taste and thicken the liquid in the pan with a couple tablespoons of flour or cornstarch. Put your favorite pie crust in a spring form pan. You can use my recipe found here. Layer the browned beef, onion, and mushroom mixture with sliced boiled potatoes. Top with pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 1-1.5 hours. If the crust is getting dark brown, cover with foil.
What I Learned
I learned that if you are going to put oysters in this beef steak pie recipe, don’t be landlocked. If you have access to fresh oysters, feel free to try it. I had some jarred oysters and they had the sweet briny taste I was looking for, but it clashed with the other flavors in the pie. This recipe also needs some thickening agent inside. You can blend a couple tablespoons of flour with the water that you put over the recipe. You can see from the picture, when I sliced into the pie, I had some catastrophic flooding. There are a lot of ingredients that go into this dish that add moisture. Mushrooms, beef, onions, and potatoes all have a lot of moisture they give off during the cooking process.
I wanted to like this recipe. So often in cooking I become overzealous in my seasoning and ingredients I add to a dish. This recipe proved to me that less is more. For example, leaving out the oysters would have produced better flavors that I would have enjoyed much more. Overall, this is an amazing idea that isn’t done often enough in American cooking. Next time you are looking for a unique dinner idea, make this beef steak pie.
Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, Eliza Leslie, 1834