13 November 2011

Jamie Oliver's "Kate & Wills' Wedding Pie" - using a slow cooker

Those of you who are in the U.K. can't have missed the fact that Jamie Oliver has a new t.v. programme out at the moment.  Named "Jamie's Great Britain", its premise is that Jamie is seen travelling around the country in a mobile pub (named "The Cock in Cider") talking to food producers and local people about what makes their area great for food, then goes away and produces a dish based on what he's been talking about.

It's a fairly tried and tested, if not somewhat predictable, premise for a cooking show.  Personally, I can't see the point in his travelling in the cumbersome Pub on Wheels (which started off life as an Army lorry) as he is rarely seen doing anything much in it.  Which supports the idea of it being a pub, but he could so easily have just found somewhere else to talk to people, had he have been of a mind to.  Anyway, I digress.

Vote for me!
I noted the fact that the programme had a Facebook presence and, during an idle moment, went along to see the page.  My interest became more focused when I saw that they had what they refer to as a "Snap and Share" thing going on.  Whereby, you cook one of the recipes from the show, take a photograph and upload it to the Facebook page.  (If you go there, give my pie a vote, won't you?).  Now even though I've never been one to photograph my food (removes tongue from cheek), this caught my interest long enough for me to think "ah, but there's rarely any of Jamie's recipes that I can afford to cook", which is sad, but true.  Occasionally, I'll find a recipe that can be downgraded from the stated expensive ingredients to more affordable ones that will do the job almost as well, but it is rare.  However, I thought I'd investigate what the recipe list was, just in case.

There were a number of recipes that just didn't suit for one or other reason, such as Leigh-on-Sea sole (too expensive), 12 hour rabbit ragu (no rabbits available where I live), sizzling lamb lollipops (too expensive), baby Yorkshire puds with trout pate (trout? Too expensive) or Guinness lamb shanks (again, too expensive).  Then, my eye lit upon the Kate & Wills' Wedding Pie, which involved my favourite Beef Shin and rather than spend 2 hours or so cooking it in the oven (which is the more expensive route), I thought I could use the slow cooker to advantage.

Now, apart from having to scale the recipe down to one feeding 4 people, the recipe involved ingredients that were largely already in the larder or fridge and those that weren't - being the beef and the stout - were relatively easily obtained and, more to the point, were affordable.  Now that's my kind of recipe.

The end result is absolutely 100% well worth the effort of producing this pie.  Also, if you make use of a slow cooker, it becomes even easier to produce.

I did the initial preparation in a frying pan - cooking the onions, then browning the meat, then creating the gravy.   Everything went into the slow cooker and it chuckled away on medium until around 4.30pm (about 6hrs).  I had made the pastry in the morning and put that in the fridge to chill, so the assembly of the pie involved adding some English mustard, Worcestershire Sauce and the cheese to the slow cooker's contents (I left the pearl barley out, as my chaps can't abide the stuff), then ladling it into the pie dish, topping with the pastry and bingo - baking.

Upon taking their first forkful of pie contents, everyone did that thing which denotes a great recipe from a good recipe - they chew whilst concentrating with furrowed brow, then the brow clears, they smile, then nod repeatedly whilst the face takes on a look of "OMG - I've never tasted anything so good!".  I thought it would be good - but not quite THAT good!

Such a tidy, well behaved pie!
The filling is just so rich and unctuous, with tender pieces of flavoursome beef that fall apart on your tongue.  All covered in a glorious thick gravy that is the envy of all who have attempted to create a good pie gravy in the past, and failed.  I included a few quartered mushrooms, which were delicious little punctuations in the texture of the pie and lent it additional interest.

I reckon that this pie, cooked with some lovely lamb's kidneys, would make a show-stopping steak & kidney pie.  So on that note, I'll be giving it a go sometime soon!

KATE & WILLS' WEDDING PIE adapted from Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Great Britain".  Serves 4.

Ingredients :

1 tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
a sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
a sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped (or half a tsp dried)
a bay leaf
2 medium red onions, peeled and roughly sliced
4-5 chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
600g beef shin, trimmed and diced (start with 700g untrimmed)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
200ml local smooth stout
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
500ml beef stock
1½ tsp English mustard
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, to taste
50g good Cheddar cheese, grated.

For the pastry :

150g plain flour
50g Atora shredded suet (I use vegetable suet)
50g butter
sea salt
an egg, beaten.

Method :

1.  In a frying pan, place the olive oil, butter and herbs to melt the butter on a high heat.  Add the onions and fry until they are just beginning to colour and have softened.  Add them to the slow cooker with the mushrooms, switch it on to medium and replace the lid.

2.  Add the diced beef and continue to fry on a high heat, until all sides are browned and the cubes have caramelised on at least two sides - but don't let them burn!  Add to the slow cooker and replace the lid.

3.  To the frying pan, add the flour and tomato puree and stir until the flour has lightly toasted.  Then add the stout and stir, then gradually add the stock, stirring in between each addition to break down any lumps that might have appeared.  The object of the exercise is to have a smooth thickened gravy by the end of it.  Pour into the slow cooker and give everything a good stir to settle it into one even layer.  Replace the lid and leave it to chuckle for a minimum of 4 hours.

4.  In the meantime, make the pastry by putting the flour, suet and butter into a bowl with a good pinch of salt.  Using your thumbs and forefingers, rub the butter in to the flour until you have something somewhere between breadcrumbs and cornflake shapes being made between your fingers.  Stir in 60ml of cold water (or thereabouts) and use your hands to pat and push the mix together to form a rough dough.  Ignore the urge to mix or knead, as you don't want to overwork the flour and have your pastry become tough.  Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate until needed.

5.  When you're ready to begin assembling the pie, pre-heat your oven to 180deg C/350deg F/gas 4.

6.  Remove the lid of the slow cooker and give everything a stir.  Then add the English mustard, the Worcester sauce and the grated cheddar cheese.  Give it all a gentle stir to encourage the cheese to melt.

7.  Once melted, ladle the contents of the slow cooker into your pie dish.  Roll out the pastry to fit the top of the dish.  Run a little beaten egg around the edge of the dish and place the pastry over.  Trim to fit and cut a little hole in the top, to let the steam out.

8.  Brush beaten egg over the top of the pie and place in the oven to cook for around 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden and looking lovely.

9.  Serve.



  1. I LOVE my slow cooker and this has been bookmarked to make! Fabulous looking pie and so seasonal too!

  2. Oh wow, this looks fantastic - and perfect for the slow cooker. I love the idea of adding cheese to the pie filling (frankly, I love the idea of adding cheese to most things).


  3. Yes, I was greatly intrigued by the idea of adding cheese to the filling, but it made perfect sense in that it added that "something" to enrichen the sauce and make it gorgeous. I do agree - besides bacon, cheese always makes things better. :)

  4. Wow, I'm an Aussie, it's summer here but I intend to make it after Xmas.

  5. Hello there, Anonymous! So you're one of my Aussie visitors - how exciting to "meet" you. I've an Uncle in Australia (Perth) and knew it couldn't be just his wife who kept coming here! LOL

  6. Im from South Australia I made this pie today and cant believe how beautiful it tastes! I only used 1 litre of stock as it looked a bit too runny. Were having it with mash potatoes instead of pasry
    Thanks From the land down under.

    1. Oh great! :) I'll bet it was lovely with mashed potato. Did you put the potato on top - like a Cottage Pie, or serve it by the side of the meat?


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