Recipe: Red-braised beef brisket pie

This red-braised beef brisket pie is rich, dark and heavenly for winter nights.

This red-braised beef brisket pie is rich, dark and heavenly for winter nights.

Red-braised beef is one of my favourite winter stews to serve with rice, but here I've somewhat bastardised this Chinese dish to use those same delicious flavours in a pie.

Usually in a red braise, the meat would stew gently for hours in a master stock, but here I've added those flavours to the base to ensure it makes for wonderful eating – rich, dark and heavenly for winter nights.

Sometimes I increase the amount of chilli bean paste to make a spicier version. I like to serve it with either a sharp watercress salad or braised gai lan. If you are making individual pies, you will need extra short pastry for the bases.

Makes 8 individual pies or 1 large pie / Preparation 40 minutes / Cooking 3 hours 

For the filling
1kg beef brisket, cross-cut blade, chuck or other slow-stewing cut of beef, cut into 4cm cubes flour for dusting
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 bunch spring onions
5cm piece of ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 tablespoons chilli bean paste (toban djan), depending on how hot you like it
½ cup Shaoxing rice wine
1 cup dried sliced shiitake, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 20 minutes, then drained (reserve the liquid) and roughly chopped
2 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1½ cups beef stock or water
3-4 medium carrots or 6-8 radishes or baby turnips, cut into chunks 
2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoonswater (if necessary)
1 sheet Paneton savoury pastry (if making Individual pies, you may need 2 sheets)
1 sheet Paneton flaky puff pastry
1 egg, beaten with a little water
roasted brussels sprouts and chutney to serve (optional)

Dust the beef in flour and fry in batches in the oil to brown, then remove and set aside. 

Cut the white parts of the spring onions into 5cm lengths (reserve the greens for later). Add to the pan along with the ginger, garlic and chilli bean paste and fry for a minute, then add the Shaoxing, shiitake and liquid, star anise, cinnamon, soy sauce and beef stock. 

Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and either simmer for 2 hours on the stovetop or in a 160°C oven, adding extra water if it looks like it's drying out. 

Serve with roasted brussels sprouts for ultimate winter comfort.

Serve with roasted brussels sprouts for ultimate winter comfort.

In the final hour of cooking, add the carrots or radishes. When the beef is tender, remove the star anise and cinnamon, thinly slice the green parts of the spring onions and stir through. 

If there is too much liquid, add some or all of the cornflour slurry and simmer to thicken for a minute or two. Cool before using.

For the dough & to assemble
1½ teaspoons active dried yeast 
250g fine semolina
2 teaspoons sugar
350g high-grade flour
1 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the bowl and tin
1 egg, beaten with a little water

Put the yeast, semolina and sugar in a bowl with 300ml tepid water. Sit for 10 minutes until it smells yeasty (you may also find a few bubbles forming). Add the flour, salt and oil. Knead in an electric mixer with a dough hook or by hand until the dough comes together and is smooth – 5-10 minutes. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200°C. 

To make individual pies
Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll out to 4mm-thick rounds. Put a large spoonful of filling onto 1 half of each round, brush around the edges with the egg wash, fold over and crimp the edges to seal. Put onto a baking paper-lined tray and rest for 20 minutes to allow the dough to rise. Brush with egg wash and make a couple of slits in the top of the dough so steam can escape. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Serve with chutney, if desired. 

The July issue of Cuisine is now on sale

The July issue of Cuisine is now on sale

To make 1 large pie
Cut the dough into 2 balls, 1 slightly larger than the other. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 4mm. Lightly oil a 26cm round tin. Put the larger piece of dough in the bottom of the tin and press up around the sides. Put in the cold lamb filling and lightly brush the edge of the dough with the egg wash. Put the top piece of dough on and crimp the edges together. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and make a couple of slits so steam can escape. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden. Serve with chutney, if desired. 

WINE MATCH A peppery, linear syrah. Try the Church Road McDonald Series Hawke's Bay Syrah 2013. 

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