Saturdays should be about relaxing right? However, at any given moment my Saturday is about to be ruined by someone like Robert Snodgrass. Yes that’s right, I’ve let Fantasy Football take over my weekend.
Try as I might, but the minute I add someone, like a free scoring Van Persie, to my squad he erm…stops scoring. In fact, most Saturdays are spent squirming and watching the bad news roll in. Everton have conceded (there goes my Baines bonus point). Suarez scores again (Oh crap, why did I pick Sturridge). I’ve been playing Fantasy Football for 7 years now with the sole aim of being top of the league. Oh the glory of it….but the reality is I’m more likely to win best team name. Like this year’s ‘Ivory Toast’. Genius right?
The worst bit is my allegiance to Man Utd has diminished since playing Fantasy Football. That’s right, I’m now more likely to watch and hope Benteke will rediscover his early season form. What I needed was something to help me enjoy Saturday football again. Which lead me onto pies. Yes that’s right, meat pies, just like you’d find if you were at the game itself. My theory is if I enjoy all the other things about the game then I just might get better at Fantasy Football. Yes it’s a long shot, but I’ll try anything. Plus, I make a pretty awesome pie.
Beef Shin and Ale Pie (makes a large 26cm pie)
500g beef shin. Diced into 1cm cubes
2 medium carrots. Diced
1 large red onion. Sliced
400ml of the best ale you can find
1 punnet of chestnut mushrooms. Sliced
200ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons of flour
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
320g puff pastry sheets
1 egg. Beaten
Cook the onions on a medium heat until they start to caramalize in large pan. You really want them in there for a while so they melt into your pie mixture later. Once done, remove and keep the same pan for the next step. Gently toss the beef in the flour (this helps thicken it later) and then brown off in batches. Remove and set aside.
Add the carrots, thyme and mushrooms to the pan and cook until they start to colour. Then put the beef and caramalized onion back into the same pan. Finally add the stock and beer. If you find it’s a little dry, just add more stock. Simmer with the lid on for about an hour. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes to thicken. Take off the heat and stir through the balsamic vinegar. Leave to cool.
Transfer everything to a 26cm pie dish and brush the edges of the dish with a little water (this helps the pastry stick). Lay the pastry over the top and trim, leaving a just little bit over the edge. Crimp down with a fork and the brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Poke two small holes into the middle of the pastry before baking in a 180°c oven until golden brown.
Did it work? Well, sort of. I’ve climbed up to fourth in the league with the aid of an unexpected Morrison goal. So my advice is to avoid tipsters like Fantasy Football Scout and bake this pie instead. It probably won’t work, but you’ll at least be able to enjoy your Saturday’s again.