Yesterday, I live-tweeted my invention of a beef and ale pie topped with a Colcannon mash and bacon-wrapped asparagus. While my pie filling was a conglomeration of beef mince, leftover Christmas gravy, and a splodge of cream of mushroom soup made from further festive leftovers, and a splash of Old Speckled Hen, I think I’ve come up with a method for the beef and ale component of this epic creation.

Excuse the intense close-up of the pie cooling on the stove – my pastry is always a little rustic, even when I cheat with store-bought shortcrust, as I did yesterday. Instead of serving the asparagus as a side, I’ve nestled them in a row in the bed of Colcannon mash to cook along with the pie. While Colcannon mash is about as Irish as it gets, I added a little French touch by cooking the potatoes in a stock made from pouring boiling water and tossing a stock cube into a jar of Dijon mustard. I screwed the lid back on tightly, gave it a shake and tipped it into the pot. And when I made the mash, I tossed in a heaped teaspoon of Dijon for good measure.

This is a great dish to make on a cold afternoon – there’s no point rushing this bad boy. There’s a lot of prep involved so it’s wise to get everything chopped and measured at the start. Make the mash first, set aside, then make the filling while the pastry is blind-baking. Finally, wrap the asparagus in bacon while the pastry gets an extra five minutes to firm up the bottom, then the assembly can begin.

Set aside some time, crank up the music – and a rather labour-intensive but worthwhile beef and ale pie will be yours.

Piled-high beef and ale pie


For the Colcannon mash

200g potatoes, peeled and cut into rough cubes

25g curly kale, roughly chopped

6 spring onions, chopped into petite slices

1 egg

50ml single cream

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the beef and ale filling

40g salted butter

1/2 cup plain flour

300ml stock

250g beef mince

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 peppers, diced

100g mushrooms, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon each of dried basil, dried parsley and dried oregano

50ml ale

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

For the asparagus

5-6 asparagus spears

5-6 rashers of bacon

For the pastry

250g store-bought shortcrust pastry


  1. Start with the mash – boil up the chopped potatoes until soft but not soggy and mash with the kale, spring onions, cream, egg and Dijon mustard. Set aside.
  2. To start the beef and ale filling, make a gravy. Melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a thick, smooth roux and add stock, stirring until you have a nice creamy gravy. Set aside.
  3. Roll out the pastry until it’s about 0.5cm thick and use it to line a pie dish. Using baking weights or baking beans, blind-bake for 15 minutes at 180 degrees C.
  4. While the pastry is blind-baking, fry the onion with the garlic and then brown the mince. Add the ale, remaining vegetables, herbs and spices. Pour over the gravy and cook until piping hot. Stir through a tablespoon of tomato paste and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.
  5. Remove the baking weights or baking beans from the pastry case and give it an extra five minutes at 160 degrees C.
  6. While the pastry case is finishing off, wrap each asparagus spear tightly in a bacon rasher. Keep the oven on after you’ve removed the pastry case.
  7. To assemble, fill the pastry case with the beef and ale mixture, spoon the Colcannon mash on top to form a nice, thick layer and then lay the wrapped asparagus spear in a row on top.
  8. Glaze the pastry with a little milk and pop back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Ideally, serve right away.

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