Sunday Night Dinner: Let’s eat British all Month! Will and Kate Beer and Barley Pie

A photo from Jamie Oliver's Great Britain

So my good friend Kendra gave me Jamie Oliver’s new cookbook, Great Britain. This was a very kind and generous gift because 1) I love British food 2) I love Jamie Oliver’s recipes and 3) I can’t get this cookbook in the US.

This means that, yes, I have to do metric conversions in order to use the cookbook, BUT that’s what APP’s, the internet and good old-fashioned guesstimation is good for, right?

So far I’ve made Crumbliest Scones, Breakfast Buttys (veg of course) and Will and Kate’s Beef and Beer Pie (substituting a few things to fill in for the beef). I’ve decided that March is “eat British” food month at our house, so get ready for a few United Kingdom inspired meals. This will be no surprise to any of my family members as I have been an anglophone since I was thirteen.

Something I love about the Brits is that when they make a savory “pie” it’s pretty much straight up one filling. Where we Americans will throw in carrots, celery, peas, and other things with our chicken, pork and beef pies, they stick to the base ingredient and add just a little something extra.

Mr. Oliver spiced his up a bit with the gravy ingredients which helped for my vegetarian version. I have to admit that I was really nervous about making pie dough using the conversion calculator. Pastry dough is tricky, finicky and pretty much by the book cooking. So if anything was going to go wrong, the pastry dough stood a strong chance of going awry. It didn’t, thank the cooking gods, so John got to have dinner and no kitchen meltdowns occurred.

Here’s how I made a vegetarian version of  Will and Kate (and yes that stands for THE Will and Kate) Beer and Barley Pie.

First, I substituted shiitake mushroom based Field Roast for beef. I used one quarter loaf and sautéed it crispy then set it aside.

I halved the filling on Jamie’s recipe (so I actually converted then halved it– I’m a crazy person). This worked out well for the 9-inch pie pan I was using. I mixed chopped 1 chopped red onion, 1 cup of portabella mushrooms, and a tablespoon of thyme, a tablespoon of rosemary and 1 bay leaf. With a dash of salt and pepper, I sautéed them for 10 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

After the 10 minutes were up and the vegetables were nice and soft, I added the stout beer. I, of course, went with Guinness. One of my most favorite beers ever was a Guinness I had before I saw Romeo and Juliet at the Globe in London. After converting about 3/4 of a cup seemed right. I also added 1 tablespoon of tomato puree or diced tomatoes, 1 heaping tablespoon of flour, and 3 cup of vegetable broth. It looked like this after I stirred it all together.

You let it simmer on low (with the lid on) for 30 minutes. While it was cooking, I made the pie dough. Because the Will and Kate pie called for Suet (beef fat lard) and there wasn’t a sure-fire way around it, I choose to use another of Jamie’s pie savory pie dough recipes. This one was butter based and I’ve made a couple butter based pie doughs before so I felt a little more confidant about it.

This called for 2  1/4 cups-ish of flour, 2 sticks of butter, pinch of sea salt. Being the old-fashioned girl that I am I tend to do everything by hand, so I pinched my salt, flour and butter together, but you can, as Jamie suggests, just zap it in the food processor until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Then dump the loose mixture out on the a clean surface and make a pile, then a well in the middle of the pile. I added around 6 to 8 tablespoons of ice-cold water to the well. Carefully mix it together using your fingers until the dough comes together into a rough ball. Don’t get it too wet, dry is better! Then place in a floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap and “pop” it into the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready for use. The plastic wrap and the cold will help it come together in the end.

Scruffy ball of dough

Once my vegetable and beer mixture had cooked for 30 minutes, it was time to add a 1/4 of a cup of pearl barley. Stir it in (the mixture should be thickening) and put the lid back on for 30 more minutes on low.

When the 30 minutes are up, take the lid off and cook for 15 minutes more. Things should be really thick by now.

When the 15 minutes are up, add 2 tablespoons of tamari or Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons of a mustard with some kick to it, and 1/4 of a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir and remove from heat then mix in your cooked Field Roast (don’t forget it!)

Now it’s time to see if your pastry came together in the fridge. I will admit my dough needed a little more help, so I added 2 more tablespoons of water to moisten it. Cut your dough in half and roll it a 1/2 inch thick on a floured surface. I say 1/2 inch, but butter based dough isn’t stretchy in a rolling-pin kind of way, so close enough is good enough. Then cut to fit your pie pan.

Two hearts for two royal sweethearts

Add your filling.

I dotted mine with butter to help make up for the loss of the beef fat.

Now it’s time for the top crust! Same as before, but make sure to seal the edges to your bottom crust. Again, butter based dough makes this a little harder to do, but close is good. Use one egg and paint a light egg wash on the top crust then bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

Yes, I’m going to say it, this pie is truly fit for a future king or Mr. Young the King of my heart…I’m glad  the most important one of them got to enjoy it!

I did finish off the stout and made a scrappy version of the English classic mushy peas along with sides of carrots and boiled potatoes! Jolly good if I do say so myself.

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2 thoughts on “Sunday Night Dinner: Let’s eat British all Month! Will and Kate Beer and Barley Pie

  1. Not bad for an American hehehe =P.
    I would love to try the meat version of this, a good pie is a rare find and I’ve never made one before.

    The best pie you can buy in the UK is a Pukka Pie.
    It has to be fresh which you can only find at Fish & Chip shops.
    I’m not sure if they do a veg version but mmmmmmm, THE BEST.

    -Pepper

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