Recipe: Ale, Butter & Mustard Pie Gravy

Recipe: Ale, Butter & Mustard Pie Gravy


70g unsalted butter
70g wholemeal wheat, rye or spelt flour, either freshly-milled or one of our great stone-milled flours
200g pale ale, check that it’s vegetarian-approved if you need that
300g water
20g black treacle or molasses
2 tsp ready-made mustard
1 tsp salt, like our Cornish Sea Salt
20g honey, like our Black Bee Honey
20g tomato paste, optional
2 tsp dark soy sauce
3 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

easyA wheat flour-based sauce has been shown in trials to give a more pleasing flavour – what food tech people call mouth-feel – for savoury food, compared to sauces thickened with cornflour or other starches that are better suited to sweet dished. So that old-fashioned pan gravy my mother would make for Sunday roasts was the way to go, and still my favourite.

By browning the butter first, then adding the flour and cooking that to a rich golden roux, this very handy vegetarian pie gravy helps to bridge the gaps between the filling and the pastry, holding everything together and helping to meld the ingredients’ flavours. Easy to veganise, just replace the butter with a vegan alternative, and the honey with brown sugar.

I’ve kept this absolutely basic, but you can get creative with it: add fried onions, garlic, sautéed mushrooms, chilli paste, whatever takes your fancy and suits the pie you’re cooking. If you want to replace the ale with red wine that’s delicious too. Must warn you before you’re tempted to replace the water with more ale: the hops in the ale will make the gravy quite bitter, I tried it and preferred less ale and more water.

Makes enough for 1-2 large pies

Put the butter in a saucepan and cook until it starts to brown. Add the flour, stir well then cook over a medium heat until it starts to brown also.

Remove from the heat, add the ale and water, whisk well until smooth. Then place back on the heat, bring to the boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, cook for a few more minutes then add black pepper and salt to taste. Try and keep the flavour on the strong side for a pie, as pastry has a way of calming flavour.

Use when cold, keeps very well in the refrigerator for up to a week in container with a lid. Doesn’t freeze well, tends to split and turn runny.

To use add spoonfuls to the inside of the unbaked pie and layered roughly with the pre-cooked filling.