Christmas Eve Beef and Wine Pie

Henry VIII loved pies and he also loved surprises. Large pies were often cooked for him containing rooks and crows. As a surprise live birds were sometimes put under the crust and were released when the pie was cut open, hence the nursery rhyme:

"Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the King."

The R.S.P.B. would frown on this custom today so here is a recipe which is acceptable in modern days!



  • 1lb lean braising steak, cubed
  • 1oz seasoned flour
  • 1oz butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 fl oz red wine
  • 5 fl oz beef stock


  • 12 oz plain flour
  • Salt
  • 3oz hard margarine
  • 3oz lard
  • Approx 12 teaspoons cold water
  • Beaten egg to glaze


  1. Toss the cubed meat in the seasoned flour.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the meat and sauté to seal. Add the rest of the vegetables.
  3. Add stock and wine. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 15 minutes. Check for seasoning and allow to cool.
  5. Make the pastry and chill for 30 minutes. Use half of the pastry to line a pastry dish and put in cooled meat mixture. Cover with the rest of the pastry and seal edges. Try and make the letters N.O.E.L. out of the trimmings and put on top of the pie. Brush with beaten egg. Make steam holes.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes at gas 6 / 400 elec / 200c or until golden.

Will freeze. Thaw completely before reheating.