The Ultimate Pub Grub
During the various lockdowns of 2020 the great thing that most people did do a lot more of was cooking, so over the next year we’ve created some classic dining out menus that you can now enjoy at home
Our gorgeous three-course menu features some of your favourite pub classics and most of them can be made ahead of time. To get ahead, prepare the prawn cocktail sauce, add the prawns, cover and chill until needed – it’s fine to do this a day ahead, meaning you can just do a quick assembly job when you’re ready to serve.
The pie filling would definitely benefit from being made a day or so ahead of time as this will really help all the flavours to develop. It also freezes really well if you fancy being ultra prepared.
When it comes to topping the pie, I’ve found after years of preparing food that it’s essential to go for block pastry – the flavour and how it behaves during cooking is far better than ready-rolled. Roll out the pastry, place it on a platter or chopping board and chill for at least 30 minutes before using to top the pie.
The pudding can be made an hour or two ahead of time and enjoyed at room temperature, or cover with foil and warm through gently in the oven.
Once you’ve got the base of shallots, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs sorted for this pie, you can swap out the beef to make something different. Use the same amount of flour for thickening and the same amount of liquid and the sauce should have a rich consistency.
Try chicken and mushroom and exchange the beer for white wine, adding a spoonful or two of double cream for richness.
Go for pork shoulder and cider and add some sliced apple during the last 20 minutes of cooking for a wonderful sweet tang.
Keep it veggie by adding extra shallots, sautéd thickly sliced mushrooms, cooked butter beans and cooked chestnuts. Use half the amount of stock (you won’t need to simmer as long), flavour with red wine and add a spoonful of redcurrant sauce just before topping.
PRAWN AND AVOCADO COCKTAIL
An all-time classic – simple, fresh and just perfect with a slice of buttered bread Ready in 10 minutes
400g cooked shelled prawns, defrosted if frozen
1 small head romaine lettuce, leaves separated
1 large avocado, stoned, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp snipped chives
¼ cucumber, cut into ribbons
lemon wedges to serve
For the dressing:
5 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
good squeeze of lemon
In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. Season to taste and stir in the prawns. Divide some lettuce leaves among four plates and spoon the prawns into each. Slice a large avocado and scatter over the prawns along with some chives and cucumber. Add a wedge of lemon and serve with buttered brown bread.
BEEF AND ALE PIE
This wonderfully rich pie will serve four very generously
Ready in 2 hours, 45 minutes
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1kg braising steak, cut into large chunks
200g shallots, halved if large
4 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
40g plain flour
300ml Black Sheep ale or similar
2 bay leaves
sprig flat-leaved parsley
500g block puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 Heat a drizzle of the oil in a large non-stick pan, add the beef and fry, stirring occasionally until nicely browned all over. You will definitely have to do this in 2-3 batches. Set to one side and continue until all of the beef has been browned.
2 Add the remaining oil and stir in the shallots, carrots, celery and garlic and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until softened and just coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
3 Add the stock and the ale and stir very well while slowly bringing to the boil. Tie the herbs together into a little bundle and drop into the pan. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, remove the lid and continue to cook until the gravy is nicely thickened and the beef is perfectly tender. Check the seasoning.
4 Roll out the pastry until about ½cm thick and more than large enough to cover the top of a deep 2-litre pie dish. Place on a board and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6. Brush the pie dish rim with egg, cut off long strips of pastry from your rolled-out pastry and press on to the rim.
5 Spoon in the beef and place a pie funnel in the middle. Brush the pastry strips with egg and place the lid over the top, pushing the funnel through the pastry. Brush with egg and decorate with pastry leaves if you fancy. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and risen. Just gorgeous served with mash and steamed veg.
LEMON POLENTA PUDDING WITH CUSTARD
Yummy hot pudding with a lemon syrup and lashings of custard! Ready in 1 hour
3 unwaxed lemons
200g butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
100g self-raising flour
double cream or custard to serve
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4 and butter a 2-litre ovenproof dish. Grate the zest and squeeze the juice from 2½ of the lemons and thinly slice the remaining half. Set to one side. Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
2 Gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix. Add the flour and polenta and fold in until totally incorporated. Spoon into the dish and arrange the lemon slices on top. Bake for 40 minutes until set. Serve hot. If you’d like an extra lemony kick warm the juice of two lemons with 3 tbsp of caster sugar and heat for a couple of minutes until syrupy. Pour over the cake once it comes out of the oven.
All recipes by Catherine Hill and serve 4.
Photos by Terry Benson.
Props styling by Luis Peral.