Crunchy topped Cumberland pie

Date: 29-12-2021

Crunchy topped Cumberland pie

This is a hearty family dish that is comfort food at its best. Especially on a cold winter’s night, it will please everyone. Braising, chuck, feather or blade steak is great for this slow cooked dish. Enjoy!


  • 2 celery sticks, sliced into 1cm pieces
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 2 really big carrots , halved lengthways then chunkily sliced
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp each plain flour, tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 beef stock cubes , crumbled
  • 850g feather blade beef , or other braising cut, cut into large chunks
  • Cornflour or bisto powder to thicken, if needed
  • 850g-1kg large potatoes
  • 25g each mature cheddar and parmesan, finely grated


Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Soften the celery, onion, carrots, bay and 1 thyme sprig in a casserole with 1 tbsp oil and the butter for 10 mins. Stir in the flour, followed by the purée, Worcestershire sauce and stock cubes.

Gradually stir in 600ml hot water, then tip in the beef and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hrs 30 mins, then uncover and cook for 30 mins -1 hr more until the meat is really tender and sauce thickened. Season with salt pepper and a pinch of sugar and this is the stage to thicken if needed. Mix a little cornflour or bisto powder with cold water and stir through the casserole until you get to the thickness you like.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a pan of boiling water until they are about 5 minutes from being done and drain. Leave to cool slightly.

Transfer meat to a baking dish. Slice potatoes into 1cm thick rounds and gently toss with seasoning, the remaining oil and thyme leaves. Layer on the beef, scattering with the cheese as you layer. You can cover and chill the pie now for 1 day, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Increase oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and bake for 30-40 mins until golden and crispy, and sauce bubbling if the dish went in cold. Serve with peas.

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