Adapted from The River Cottage Year by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Makes 2 x 15cm pies


250g plain flour

125g butter

Glass of iced water


2 or 3 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

200g stewing steak, cut into cubes of about 2cm

Small glass of red wine

1 medium onion, sliced

1 large field mushroom, sliced

2 tsp tomato ketchup

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 bay leaf

4 oysters

1 egg, beaten

1 Before starting the pastry, stick the butter in the freezer for about half an hour.

2 To make the pastry, sift the flour with a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Grate the butter into the flour and, with your hands, gently toss, so the bits of butter are coated in flour. Add enough water to pull the flour and butter together into a medium-firm dough, with the pieces of butter still intact.

3 Shape the dough into a rough rectangle, then, on a well-floured surface, roll it out into a larger rectangle, until it’s about 2cm (or less) in thickness. Then fold the far third towards you, and the near third back over that, so you now have a rectangle a third of the original size and three times as thick. Turn the pastry a quarter turn to the right, and roll it out again, away from you, into another rectangle.

4 Repeat this procedure at least 4 times, but preferably 5 or 6 times, dusting with more flour with each roll. Put it in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.

5 Meanwhile, make the stew for the pies. Toss each piece of meat in the seasoned flour until well coated. Heat some oil in a frying pan and when good and hot, add the meat and cook until well browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the frying pan and put it in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan.

6 Once all the browned meat has been put into the saucepan, add the red wine to the frying pan and deglaze, scraping up all the crispy bits. Pour the wine into the saucepan on top of the meat. Add a little more oil to the frying pan and cook the onion until soft. Add the mushroom, cook for a minute or two, then add this to the meat.

7 To the meat, add the tomato ketchup, mustard and bay leaf, then enough water to just cover the meat. Place over a very low heat and let it simmer for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Once the meat is really tender, divide the stew between the two pie dishes, with enough of the gravy to come to about 2cm from the top of the pie dish. Leave to one side to cool before putting the pastry on top.

8 Once cool, push 2 oysters into each pie dish. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5mm, brush the edges with the beaten egg and place on top of the pie dish. Press down the edges to seal. Use any spare dough to make some decorative shapes, if you like, and make 2 or 3 crosses in the top to let the steam escape. Brush with some more of the egg and bake in an oven heated to gas mark 5 (190ºC) for about 45-50 minutes.

TIP You can freeze these pies, once they are cold and the pastry has been placed on top. Wrap well in tin foil and clingfilm. To cook, take it out of the freezer for about 20 minutes (this helps prevent the pie dish from cracking when put in the hot oven), then bake, as above.

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