Despite our last gasp of summer, Autumn is definitely on its way.
As the nights draw in, the mornings become chillier with speckles of dew on the grass, and there’s the faint smell of bonfire in the air, we can look forward to one of the best things about the change in season… food!
Autumn brings with it the opportunity to find comfort and warmth from our most basic of needs.
But it’s not just the familiarity of a hearty meal that’s important. What you eat is key too.
Beef plays an important part in our diets at this time of year. It’s rich in Zinc which supports our immune system, Iron to keep energy levels up, and it’s a great source of Vitamin B12 which will help give you the oomph you need mentally and physically to get out on those long, windy autumnal walks.
The good news is this versatile meat forms the basis of many of our favourite comfort food dishes.
At Douglas Willis we think a classic, warming beef pie is a great meal for the whole family. But we know how important it is to get the details right.
Will any cut of beef work?
In simple terms, no. Our butchers will tell you that if you are after a melt in the mouth texture and rich, intense flavour for your pie then it’s essential you choose the right cut of beef. This is not the time to be using a beautiful piece of fillet or sirloin steak. The best pie recipes will require slow cooking the meat which means rougher cuts like shin or braising steak work best because their layers of tissue and fat break down in the cooking process to give you soft, delicious meat.
What’s the best way to add flavour?
Some of the most impressive flavours come from the simplest of combinations. An onion to beef is like vinegar to salt. The perfect partnership. But extra flavour can come from other vegetables too, so try adding swede, carrots, or mushrooms.
Seasoning is essential, salt, stock or yeast extract all bring out the hearty beef flavour. And black pepper, mustard and thyme will add further depth. If you’re adding alcohol into the mix stick to an ale or stout rather than wine. These work better as they’re less acidic so keep your meat lovely and tender.
Top it off
Whilst a delicious, soft, flavoursome meat mixture is a delight in itself; the ultimate way to boost the endorphins and get that cosy feeling is to combine it with a rich buttery pastry topping. The addition of golden crunchy pastry, either puff, flaky or shortcrust, alongside your meat is a match made in heaven. But (and it’s a controversial but for some!), there’s a lot to be said for an alternative pie topping too so you could try any of the following to mix things up a little
- creamy buttery mash
- soft sliced potatoes with a crispy top
- a velvety Dauphinoise
- light fluffy suet dumplings
Everyone will have their own preference on what makes the ultimate beef pie but we firmly believe that by selecting our very best Welsh beef and adding your own spin on flavourings and toppings, you’ll provide the whole family with nourishment and a warm fuzzy feeling.
So, celebrate the change in season, and visit our butchers in Cwmbran or online and enjoy your own perfect beef pie this Autumn.