Smuggler’s Pie Recipe

Tender beef, steeped in cider, served in a light pastry case, topped with potato and apple mash and flambéed in brandy

Photo: Joe Sarah


Serves 6


  • Pie filling:

  • 1kg Diced beef (chuck/skirt) cut into medium pieces

  • 40g flour for dusting

  • 1-2 tablespoons of oil for frying the beef

  • 1 onion diced

  • 2 carrots diced

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 500ml cider

  • small bunch thyme

  • 3 bay

  • 200ml dark beef stock

  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree

  • Short crust pastry:

  • 250g plain flour

  • pinch of salt

  • 125g cold butter

  • splash of cold water

  • For the mash:

  • 800g Maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped

  • Splash of warm milk

  • 1 egg yolk

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Knob of butter

  • To flambé

  • 80ml apple brandy


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

  2. To make the pie filling: dust the beef in flour and season.

  3. Heat the oil in an oven-proof pan and sear the beef for 3-4 minutes until browned. Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding. Remove from the pan and set aside.

  4. Reduce the heat and in the same pan, fry the onions, carrot and garlic on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until softened. Return the browned beef to the pan with cider, thyme, bay, beef stock and tomato puree. Bring the mixture to a simmer.

  5. Put the lid on the pan and transfer to the oven and cook for 1.5-2 hours till the beef is tender.

  6. Remove the pan from the heat, cool completely.

  7. To make the pastry: put the flour and salt in a large bowl.

  8. Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.

  9. Add enough of the cold water to bind the dough together. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.

  10. Roll out your pastry to fit the pie dishes and add the beef.

  11. To make the mash: place the potatoes and apples in a heavy saucepan with water and simmer for about 20 minutes until cooked. Drain.

  12. Return potatoes and apples to the saucepan and cook off any excess liquid.

  13. Add warm milk, the egg yolk and seasoning, then mash well.

  14. Divide the mash between the pies and fork up into a beacon.

  15. Dot with butter and place the pies onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

  16. For the full effect, ignite brandy in a ladle and pour over the beacons.