Number 8 pie (or steak, ale, potato, mushroom and four other star ingredients)

Charlie has many women in his life. One of them turned two recently. When asked what birthday she was celebrating she told everyone 'six.' Clearly this habit of adding 4 years to her age won't last forever but I like that she knows her spiritual age.

Charlie's spiritual age is currently eight. He loves the number eight - it's taken over top spot from number two. He used to have two stories before bedtime every night. Now when you ask him how many stories he'd like he always replies 'eight'. He finishes any counting game with the number eight too. He also requests eight treats after dinner each evening. Life is unfortunately full of disappointment for Charlie.

This pie was inspired by Charlie's love of the aforementioned number. It has eight key ingredients. It is a man-pie (is there any other sort?) and serving it more than makes up for stealing your man's beer to make it with.

Feeds 4 - 6. Also inspired by a pie on my lovely friend Hannah's blog


2 tbsp sunflower oil
135g onion, peeled and sliced (1)
160g skirt beef cut into inch square chunks (Skirt is available at Morrisons though I haven't found it anywhere else.) (2)
135g carrot, peeled and chopped into half inch chunks (3)
200g button mushrooms chopped in half (4)
1 tsp chopped thyme (5)
1 tsp ground black pepper
A pinch of salt
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
440ml can of Boddingtons (6)
2 medium sized potatoes peeled and sliced finely (7)
Pastry to cover the pie with - puff, short, filo etc - I used this (8)
Egg to brush the top of the pastry with

This is just so quick and easy to make. No stock, just crack open a can of Boddingtons. This does mean the pie is extra boozy in taste which is a bonus in my book. Worth getting hold of skirt - it is delicious and traditionally used for Cornish pasties, meaning once it's encased and allowed to steam away it stews to the point of tender pretty quickly. 

Preheat the oven to Gas 5 and make sure you have a pie dish that's about 20cm in diameter. I use a ceramic one but metal will do too. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan then add the onions. Fry for 5 minutes until the smell fills the kitchen, then add the beef. The aim is to fry until the edges of the beef have browned so whack the heat up to achieve this if your beef is looking pasty. 

Next add the carrots, mushrooms,thyme, salt and pepper. Give the mixture a good stir with a wooden spoon and turn the heat down slightly before adding the flour. Give it all another good stir to make sure everything is evenly covered in flour. Then add the Boddingtons. Keep stirring as the mixture thickens and then simmer for about 5 more minutes. 

Once the 'gravy' has thickened transfer the lot into your pie dish and then lay the thinly sliced potatoes on the top, covering the pie filling until you can see it no longer. Then cover your pie with pastry. If using short or puff make sure you secure the edges to the pie dish by lining the rim with pastry offcuts using water, then securing the pastry lid to the offcuts with egg. Crimp the edges and leave a little overhang (cut off once cooked for perfect edges) then brush the lot with egg to get that wonderful creosotey glazed effect. Bake for 35 mins in the oven and serve with green things to offset all that beef and ale and pastry. 
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