Beef and oyster pie is an old English recipe that stems from the times that oysters were so plentiful that they were cheap enough for the poor to eat. Beef was not cheap but the meat used was not a prime cut. Many recipes use a pint of British ale in the broth.
Beef and oyster sauce is a common dish in Asia, and almost always there is garlic and ginger in the preparation. That became my inspiration.
There is an oysterman on our market. He travels more than four hours each Friday from the oyster beds in Marennes Oléron near La Rochelle, to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. On Saturday he is at a nearby market in Chatou, Sunday morning back in Saint-Germain and then in the afternoon he drives back home for a week’s work.
His oysters are not for the poor but not expensive, and fresh, and he puts at least 14 oysters in a dozen.
At home I had a nice fresh chunk of ginger that I found in the supermarket and our butcher’s had a bargain with the Bourguignon beef – a tough cut that is great for simmering.
It is a lengthy preparation. First you make a stock and simmer the beef until tender, which takes some three hours, then you enhance the pie filling and let it cool until you put it into a baking dish with batter and cook it in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. But you do not have to monitor the cooking all the time and the wait is worth it.
The oysters are salty so you do not need to use any other salt.
- A dozen of small oysters
- 400 grams chunks of beef
- Two shallots
- A 2-centimetre chunk of fresh ginger
- Six cloves of garlic
- Beef stock
- Flat leave parsley
- Black pepper
- Frozen garden peas
- A sachet of agar agar
- Short crust pie dough
- Prepare the beef stock. I used a sachet of Ariaké stock powder in a litre of boiling water. Slice the beef in bite size cubes.
- Melt butter in a skillet and fry the beef pieces on all sides.
- Cut the shallots and two cloves of garlic, add to the beef, continue stirring and add the back pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 200 ° C.
- Finely slice the ginger.
- Scoop the beef, garlic, shallots and ginger into an oven dish.
- Cover well with stock and put a lid on the dish.
- Put the dish in he oven for at least two hours, check the level of the stock from time to time, add if needed. (Here you could add lager or ale).
- Chuck the oysters and set aside
- Take the dish from the oven and put the content in a pan.
- Add the peas and cook for at least 20 minutes, taste.
- Prepare the dough and line a pie pan.
- Add agar agar to the boiling liquid in the pan and take from the heat.
- Cut the parsley and add a hand full to the liquid, cut the remaining garlic, stir and let it cool – the agar agar will set and the liquid will become a jelly.
- Add the oysters.
- Scoop the beef and oyster jelly mass into the pie dough and close the top, leave a small “chimney” for the moist.
- Put in the oven at 175 °C and cook for some 30 minutes until the outside is brown.