Healthy Beef Pie

Due to an overwhelming request here’s my version of a healthy beef pie.  This is based on a traditional French Style beef bourguignon recipe I leant to make years ago as an apprentice chef. The first key secret lies in the quality of the beef you use.  For this I’ve used beef cheeks that I purchased from my local butcher. What I love about them is that they respond exceptionally well to long slow braising – each piece is tender and moist and basically melts in the mouth when you eat it. You can also use other lean braising cuts such as chuck. I’ve used lots of onion that helps to thicken as well as flavour the sauce and a little star anis that adds that special touch and marries perfectly with the red wine used in the recipe.

I’ve given two options for the shortcrust if you decide to include it in the meal.  A delicious wholemeal spelt and olive oil crust as well as a gluten free almond and sesame crust.

What’s good about it:
The lean beef is a great source of complete protein.  Whenever the body is growing, repairing or replacing tissue, protein is involved.  Protein also helps to nourish and support a healthy immune system. The beef is also a good source of iron that helps to transport oxygen in the blood. Vitamin C increases absorption of iron so have a kiwi fruit or orange for dessert afterwards.  Red wine is rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that includes resveratrol which helps protect cell membranes as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.

1 kg beef cheeks or chuck trimmed and cut into large chunks (see note)
4 onions, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, smashed
few sprigs of thyme
2 cups good quality red wine
1 litre (4 cups) water
2 star anis
500 g mushrooms – quartered / halved (see note)

Healthy Shortcrust Pastry – (see below if using)

Preheat the oven to 150 C.
Heat a Large frying pan over medium heat.
Brown the beef on each side for a few minutes.
Place the beef in a heavy-based / cast iron casserole dish.
Deglaze the frying pan by adding 2 cups of red wine then add it to the casserole dish.
Clean your frying pan and sauté the onions over a medium heat until golden brown.
Add the onions to the casserole dish.
Add the mushrooms to the casserole dish.
Add thyme, star anis and water.
Mix everything together.
Cover well with foil so all sides are completely sealed.
Cook for approx 3 – 4 hours or until the beef is tender and sauce has thickened. Check half way through and add a little more water or beef stock if required.
Taste and check, season with a little sea salt and pepper if required.
Thicken if necessary by reducing the stock or by mixing in 1 – 2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in a little water.

Serves 6
Enjoy with or without short-crust pastry. This pie can also be served with cauliflower mash and green peas.

Beef cheesk are used for braising or slow cooking and produce a delicious and tender meat.
Order them ahead from your butcher and get them to clean it up for you.
If beef cheeks are not available, use chuck  or another good braising beef.
Mushrooms can be replaced by 1 large carrot.

Spelt and olive oil short crust
Combine 125 g (1 cup) wholemeal spelt flour with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ cup  (60 ml)  water and a pinch sea salt. Form a soft dough and rest for 30 minutes. Divide into 4 pieces and roll each piece into thin round disks between 2 sheets of grease proof paper. Brush the top of each disk with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for 20 minutes 180 C. Use as required. The crust can be made days in advance and reheated in a hot oven.
Makes 6 disks

Gluten Free shortcrust
Combine 2 cups (200 g) almond meal ½ cup sesame seeds (reserving some to garnish tops), pinch of sea salt  and 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed.  Add 1 free range / organic egg and 2 – 3  tbsp water to mix into a soft dough. divide dough into small portions (10) and roll each portion into round disks between 2 sheets of grease proof paper. Brush the top of each disk with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for 20 minutes in a moderate 180 C oven and cool completely.
Makes 10 disks:





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14 Responses to “Healthy Beef Pie”
  1. Bonnie says:

    my other half loves a good beef pie and i have currently been making one very similar to your reciepe however he is always pining after the pastry top which i have been leaving off, now i can make him this lovely spelt crust perfect thank you Teresa!

  2. Laura says:

    Hi Teresa,
    How long would you recommend cooking the beef cheeks in a pressure cooker?


  3. Liz says:

    Thanks Theresa,
    I love the idea of deglazing the pan dregs with red wine. I’m going to saute the onions in butter as well…may as well go for the whole French dining experience :)

  4. Julie says:

    Hi Teresa,

    If using beef cheeks do you still have to mariate them in the red wine etc the day before. xx

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Teresa
    I adore your simple, healthy recipes and am thrilled when a new on pops into my inbox. I print most of them now but would love to have them all in a recipe book. I don’t need to lose weight (quite the opposite in fact) so wonder if the 80/20 book is for me? Are many of the recipes you issue to us in this book?

  6. Melody says:

    Hello teresa. Thankyou…this looks amazing!
    Just wondering if you had any ideas for replacing the mushroom?
    Hubby can’t stand them :( thanks again for all these recipes…
    they are such an unbelievably big help!

  7. Corinne says:

    Hi Teresa,

    Im not too sure on what type of red wine I should buy. And also, I have massive thick steaks in the freezer… could I use these?

  8. Sussan says:

    Hi Teresa, would this recipe work n a slow cooker?


  9. Lauren says:

    One word! Yum!!!!!!!!! Except I needed to thicken it with corn flour as the liquid did not evaporate, what could I do to fix this?

  10. Lisa says:

    Can I use tapioca as the arrowroot? I know they are used interchangeably in Australia but not elsewhere.

  11. Laura says:

    Hello Teresa!

    I really, really, reallllllyyyyy love the way you cook. This is entirely the way that i love to approach food and life in general!
    Thankyou for being such an amazing inspiration for me! you have made me want to really properly start posting on my blog again.

    From Laura :)

  12. Harvin says:

    I’ve made this twice, and its such an awesome, hearty and healthy dish ! I usually use chuck steak, but managed to get my hands on some beef cheek (yeay!). Do you think omitting the red wine will change the flavour much?

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