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1796 Beef Steak Pie

1796 Beef Steak Pie

Today we are doing a savory Beef Steak Pie using our Dutch oven. This recipe comes from Amelia Simmons’s 1796 cookbook American Cookery.

  • Puff Paste Pie Crust
  • ¼ pound Butter
  • 2 pounds Shoulder Beef Roast
  • White Onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Flour
  • Liquid of choice

Make sure to preheat your Dutch oven. This needs to cook rather slowly at a low temperature. We don’t want to overheat this, so maybe 300 degrees is what we’re shooting for.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_01_21;29)

To prepare this pie, I’m using a 9 inch red ware pie plate. Line the outside of the pie plate with puff paste which is a typical instruction you’ll get in 18th century cookbooks. You can use either puff paste that you buy at the store in the frozen food section or watch our video on making your own puff paste.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_02_18;00)

I’m starting by placing a tablespoon and a half of butter in the bottom of my pie pan. I’ve taken a 2 pound shoulder roast and sliced it into about ½ inch thick slices and trimmed all the gristle out. I’m going to put a layer of steak in the pie pan and follow this with a little bit of salt and pepper, then sprinkle a nice bit of flour on top of that. We want a good layer of flour here to make a great gravy.

Next, I’ve got some nice big slices of white onion and top off this layer with another tablespoon of butter. You should be able to repeat this step for about 3 layers. Don’t make your layers too thick so that they can cook evenly. Once our pie has all the layers built together, now it’s time to put in some liquid. We can use a couple of different liquids such as water, hard cider, a small beer or light beer, or even mushroom ketchup. Anything is going to make a good liquid for our pie. It’s best to pour in some of the liquid around the edges right now before you put the top on, because it can be hard to get all the liquid that we want into the pie.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_03_38;23)

Now it’s time to put on our puff paste top and pinch it down. You definitely want a good seal between the body of the pie crust and this lid so make sure to wet the edge if the top isn’t going to seal well. Once the lid is down nice and tight, then we’re going to cut a little hole in the top and pour in another tablespoon or two of our liquid and then we’re ready to bake.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_08_06;04)

Gently place the pie into your preheated Dutch oven and replace the lid. We want maybe a scoop and a half of coals around the bottom edge of this Dutch oven and maybe two scoops on top, two and a half scoops max. We don’t want to overdo this or else our meat will be tough if we cook this at too high a temperature. We also want to make sure to remember that we need to continue to rotate this oven 90 degrees every 15 or 20 minutes and rotate the lid separately, because our coals might be hotter on one spot than the other and we don’t want to overcook one spot over another.

Beef Steak Pie (Time 0_08_32;11)

When this pie is done, we definitely need to let this guy rest. It can even be eaten cold, and the colder we let this get, the more it’s going to come out in one piece.

Transcript of Video:

Dutch ovens were extremely versatile and that’s one of the reasons why they were so popular in 18th and 19th century North America. Today we’re doing a savory beef steak pie. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking.

This recipe comes from Amelia Simmons’s 1796 cookbook American Cookery. If you haven’t watched our earlier Dutch oven cookery series explaining getting these ovens up to heat, I would encourage you to do so. I’m setting my 12 inch Dutch oven over a bed of coals and putting a few coals on top to preheat it so that it’s ready to go when we’re ready to put this pie in.

To prepare this pie, I’m using a 9 inch red ware pie plate. These are the pie plates that our Master Potter Gary Nieter makes. They’re wonderful pie plates. You can find them on our website or in our print catalog. I’m lining the outside of the pie plate here with puff paste and this is a real typical instruction you’ll get in 18th century cookbooks, to just line the outside with puff paste. You can use either puff paste that you buy at the store. You can find it in the frozen food section or there’s a video that we do on making your own puff paste. I’ll make sure to put a link down in the description section for that.

I’m starting by placing a tablespoon and a half of butter in the bottom of my pie pan. In this recipe, we’ll end up using about a ¼ of a pound of butter so be prepared for that. I’ve taken a 2 pound shoulder roast and I’ve sliced it into about a ½ inch thick slices and now I’m going to start to layer that in, so first we put in a layer of our steak. This is a really nice cut. I’ve already trimmed all the gristle out. I’ll follow this with a little bit of salt and pepper and then I’ll sprinkle a nice bit of flour on top of that. We want a good little layer here. This is going to make a great gravy.

Next I’ve got some nice big slices of white onion and I’ll top off this layer with another tablespoon of butter. Now we’re going to repeat this again. Again we’re going to put down a layer of steak nice and thin. We don’t want it to double up here and again we put on the salt and the pepper and the flour and then the onions again and after the onions, butter again. You should be able to get about 3 layers in your pie. Now that our pie has got all the layers built together, now it’s time to put in some liquid and we can use a couple of different liquids. We could use water, we could use hard cider or a small beer or a light beer if you’ve got that. Anything is going to make a good liquid for our pie. I’m going to pour in some of the liquid right now before I put the top on, around the edges because it can be hard to get all the liquid into the pie that we want to get.

Now it’s time to put on our puff paste top, and here’s our puff paste that we’re going to put on the top of our pie and we’ll put this on and pinch it down. You definitely want a good seal between the body of the pie crust and this top layer, this lid that we’re going to put on, so make sure to wet the edge if the top isn’t going to seal well. Now make sure to pinch this lid down nice and tight, then we’re going to cut a little hole in the top and then pour in another tablespoon or two of our liquid on top of that and then we’re ready to bake.

The pie is ready to go into the oven and of course I’ve already preheated this oven so it should be close to temperature. I don’t need to worry about that. Let’s go ahead and remove the lid and place this pie in here gently and let’s close this up. This needs to cook rather slowly at a low temperature. We don’t want to overheat this, so maybe 300 degrees is what we’re shooting for. We talked about trying to keep a lower heat in an earlier episode in this series; in this case we want maybe a scoop and a half around the bottom edge of this Dutch oven, so make sure to refresh your coals after you preheat it and maybe two scoops on top, two and a half scoops max. We don’t want to overdo this or else our meat will be tough if we cook this at too high a temperature, and from an earlier episode, we want to make sure to remember that we need to continue to rotate this oven 90 degrees every 15 or 20 minutes and we keep picking up and rotating it around and rotate the lid separately. You want to keep rotating the lid. The problem, especially in this case where we’ve got the fire pit off to the side, it’s going to be hotter on one side than the other, so that’s why we want to keep rotating it and our coals might be hotter on one spot than the other, we don’t want to overcook one spot over another so we keep rotating those, the lid and the body around a little separately.

Someone asked in an earlier episode about the tools I was using and really I only need a couple real good tools for a Dutch oven cooking. You can do without some of these but you really need a couple of them to do it well and to do it easily, let’s just say that. Mainly we definitely are going to need a Dutch oven, we sell a couple different sizes of those. A trivet is probably the next most important piece. A nice triangular trivet. If you don’t want to have a trivet like this, you can just use a couple of stones that are the same size, 3 or 4 stones or even an S-hook thrown in the bottom here, a couple S-hooks will do the same job, but the trivet does a really good job. I like to use a real trivet when possible. A pie pan, these pie pans are great and we use them so many times, if you want to keep things up off the bottom you’re going to need to cook on top of that trivet with something like a pie plate.

Also, a pair of these little ember tongs, excellent for doing individual pieces. Sometimes you want to get pretty precise, ember tongs help you pick those up and do some precise work. The Dutch oven lid lifter is a killer tool that really makes it much easier to get the lid off of these without them falling over. I mean you can just use a hook, but the lid can tilt and all your ashes can drop right into the Dutch oven which ruins it. The Dutch oven lid lifter helps you lift that up and with these extra prongs balance it so it stays level, so it’s a really handy tool and you can just use the hook to pick up the whole Dutch oven and rotate it. You’ll really need that tool. Also you’re going to need some kind of a shovel and you really don’t need a big shovel. These little hearth shovels that we have in the catalog are perfect. They pick up just the right amount of coals and they’re nice and small and they don’t have a handle that can burn up so they’re really handy for working with these Dutch ovens.

And the last tool I really suggest is a pair of leather gloves. We don’t have these in the catalog but you can get a pair of welding gloves, look for something that’s not looking too modern. You don’t want blue ones, so if you can find a nice pair of brown welding gloves, these make it so much easier to get those pie pans out of there or to just lift up the oven or the lid at times when you don’t want to burn yourself obviously so these are really helpful to have. There are some other tools that we don’t carry that can make it easier like sometimes there’s a special tool to lift pie plates up out of the Dutch oven, boy that’s a lot of bother to carry too many tools, this is probably enough for just about anybody.

Wow this looks tremendous. It is ready to go. You know this reminds me of the beef pasty we did a number of years ago.

So we definitely need to let this guy rest. It can even be eaten cold, and the colder we let this get, probably the more it’s going to come out in one piece. I can’t wait that long, so let’s cut into this so we can try it out.

Okay this really smells good and it’s time to try it out. I really want to put some mushroom ketchup on it right away but I’m going to wait because I want to see what this really tastes like before I put the wonderful mushroom ketchup on it.

That’s a tremendous mix of flavors. Excellent. The beef, perfectly tender, wonderful. Puff paste, you can’t go wrong, and that onion flavor in there along with the spices and I did not put too much pepper, do not worry, you can always put a little bit more on but it’s perfect medley of flavors. Amazing, and now let’s try it with the mushroom ketchup. I know this is really going to set it off.

Mmm. Wow, that little bit of vinegar taste and the extra salt and the mushroom flavor, to die for. I think I wanted, instead of the water, I should have just dumped mushroom ketchup in right on top before I cooked it. This would be a tremendous thing to cook at an event. Everyone will love you so you should try this one out. The flavors are tremendous. It’s not difficult to do. There aren’t even that many ingredients, so definitely try this one out. I want to thank you for coming along as we try these things out as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

If you’re new to our channel I want to welcome you. You can subscribe by clicking the button right up here, also check out our related videos. Thanks so much for watching.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Well, I’ve made this twice now. Exactly as the recipe calls. It smells wonderful while cooking, but sadly, that’s where its temptations end. The meat, both times, was inedibly tough. The puff pastry – except the top – became a heavy, unappetizing, blob. I wish there was someone to cook it alongside. I’m sure I’m missing a basic technique that would render this pie as delicious as it smells. sigh.

  2. Hi, I cannot find the recipe on the book which you mentioned in the beginning. I read the book on the internet so could you tell me which key word should I search to find this recipe? Thank you very much and sorry to disturb you~

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