Wagyu beef comes from a deluxe breed of cattle that yields meat
prized for its rich, marbled quality. It’s quality stuff that costs a little
bit more, but makes for some pretty amazing eating. The good thing
about choosing a less sought after cut of wagyu is that it becomes
a little bit more affordable. Beef cheeks work extra well in a pie,
as there’s nothing like good quality meat cooked in extra buttery
pastry! And loads of tomato sauce, of course. Gimme.
Start by sweating the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, leek, and star
anise in a large pot for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot. Turn up the
heat and caramelise the mushroom until golden, for around 5 minutes.
Take the mushrooms out and add a splash of water to the pot to deglaze.
Add this liquid to the vegetables.
Prepare the beef cheeks by cutting away any large bits of fat and sinew,
and chop into small bite size pieces. Return the pot to the heat, and
some more oil and throw the beef cheeks in a few pieces at a time to
brown up well. Set the meat aside and deglaze the pot with a hefty
splash of brandy and 250mls of red wine.
Once the liquid has reduced by half and the alcohol burnt off, add the
tin of tomatoes, 3 sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, the beef cheek, and the
vegetables. If there’s not enough liquid to cover the meat, add a little
water. Put a lid on and simmer on a low heat until the meat is tender
but not falling apart. This should take anywhere between 2 – 3 hours.
Once the mixture is cooked, remove the beef cheek, set aside, and strain
the vegetables from the liquid. Put the liquid back on the heat and
reduce by half. Add the meat back to the liquid and season rigorously
with salt, white pepper, and a few splashes of malt vinegar.
This mix will make enough for about a dozen small party pies.
For the pastry, use the shortcrust for the bottom of the pies.
Allow the pastry to rest for 30 minutes after you’ve lined the pie
molds. Use puff pastry for the top of the pies. Glaze with egg wash
and bake in 180C oven for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the pastry
is golden and cooked through.