Wednesday 6 February 2013

Cheese topped beef pie

Years ago the standard Sunday meal was a roast joint of meat of some variety. The brilliant thing about a joint of meat is that a long cook on the Sunday meant little cooking on Monday as the leftovers were used in a quick and simple dish. Often in my house as child Monday was actually 'Cold meat Monday'. This would involve slices of the cold roast meat from the day before (never my favourite; warm it up, please), salad made by my Nan sometime in the afternoon so by dinner time it was a soggy mess, and boiled potatoes but not potatoes that should have been peeled and boiled. If we were lucky there would be enough meat to have on the Tuesday and this would be cooked treat and for beef my Mother would cook 'Cheese topped beef pie'. Normally a pie means pastry but in this case it's more like a crumble topping. 

The original recipe was one my Mother had kept from many years previously and was probably issued by some promotional board such as the 'Beef farmers of Britain' or the 'Automated Electrical Company of the UK'. I remember phoning my Mother and asking her the recipe and scribbling it down so I could share the delights of this dish with my family. Over the years I've added and tweaked it to just how I like it but it's easy to adapt. If you have some leftover vegetables such as carrots or something green like peas, broccoli or beans, you could add them in too.

One of the reasons that Sunday roasts are no longer the norm in many households these days is that so many families don't sit down together for meals and a Sunday dinner is seen as something that should be eaten out at a pub or restaurant rather than at home. Another big factor is the price. Meat is expensive, therefore squeezing as many thrifty meals out of a roasting joint is essential. Where my Mother lives there are number of supermarket – Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Waitrose, and they all have more than one branch nearby. Amazingly, they all seem to reduce short dated food by up to 90% on a regular basis and when I go to visit my Mother she insists I take back a freezer bag full of food. This is only way we were able to enjoy a top rump of beef for Sunday dinner this week. The original price was £12.99 but was reduced to £2.60. If you don't believe me here's the evidence!

How else could you make two meals for a family of four for such value? I also make up extra gravy to use in the recipe. Alternatively, just use some instant granules. The cheese topping needs a small quantity of strong cheese, so root around in the back of fridge for any that needs using up. The rest of the ingredients should be hanging your kitchen. For this reason I am entering this recipe into February's Credit Crunch Munch run by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and hosted this month by Camilla at Fab Food 4 All.

Credit Crunch Munch

Cheese topped beef pie – Serves 4


1 large onion
1 tablespoon (15ml) oil (sunflower, vegetable – your choice)
1 tablespoon (15ml) plain flour
¾ pint (450ml) beef/meat gravy
8oz (225g) cooked roast beef, diced
black pepper, pinch
nutmeg, pinch (if you don't have any just leave out – no disaster)


2oz (50g) plain flour
1oz (25g) margarine, spread or butter
1½ oz (40g) strong cheese (mature cheddar or a blue cheese such as Stilton works well)


1. Fry the onion until golden.
2. Add the flour until it browns but doesn't burn.
3. Add the gravy and bring to the boil.
4. Mix in the beef and seasonings.
5. Put the mixture into an oven-proof dish.
6. Make a crumble topping with the flour and fat by rubbing together in a bowl.
7. Add the cheese.
8. Put on top of the beef mixture.
9. Cook at 190°C / gas mark 5 for 15 minutes.

I served mine with reheated roast potatoes, Chantenay carrots (reduced of course) and broccoli. 



  1. I remember my Mum using up the left overs from the Sunday roast. She used to use a "mincer" that was screwed to the kitchen table, into which she fed the leftover meat - it then came out as cooked cold mince which she then used to make a cottage pie. As a child I was always fascinated by the process of making mince using this machine, indeed I can never recall her actually using fresh mince.

    1. The dreaded mincer! My Mum had one of those too. When I came back home for lunch from kindergarten she used to put assorted leftovers through it. I hated whatever it was but thankfully my Nan started cooking egg & homemade chips, sausage & Smash (yes, Smash)and fish fingers instead.

  2. What a bargain. When I worked in the city after work on a Friday I would sweep round the three Sainsbury's locals that would not be open for the next two days and do my food shopping for the week for a few pounds. Love the yellow stickers in the supermarket!

    Many thanks for sending this to Credit Crunch Munch, and sorry for taking forever to get around to commenting!

    1. My Mother has been to visit again this week and came with a freezer bag of reduced meat. I'm not sure meat would come into our house if it wasn't reduced. Actually I'm not sure anything much would come into the house if it wasn't reduced or on offer...


I appreciate your comments. If you have any tips, tricks or tweaks please pass them on!