⅓ cup olive oil
150 grams pancetta or streaky bacon, chopped into 1cm strips
2 small brown onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1.2 kilograms beef cheeks, cut into 5cm cubes (see Cook’s note)
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
50 grams butter
⅓ cup plain flour
400 grams mixed mushrooms, larger ones quartered, smaller ones halved (I used Swiss browns and portobello)
600 grams butter puff pastry
1½ cups grated parmesan
1½ cups purchased caramelised onions
1 egg, whisked
Equipment: Before assembling the pie, lightly spray 8 x 12cm pie tins with cooking oil spray; foil ones from the supermarket work well.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and cook the pancetta for 4-5 minutes until the fat starts to render and it’s a little crispy. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon.
Add the onions and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes then add the beef cheeks and stir. Cook for 2 minutes then return the pancetta to the pot with the wine, stock, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, with the lid slightly off so that the stock will reduce, for 4 hours.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the beef cheeks from the stock. Chill the stock and meat separately overnight.
Heat half the butter in a large casserole dish with ½ cup of the jellied stock. Once it is liquid, add the flour and whisk to a thick paste. Add the remaining stock and stir as it becomes liquid and thickens. Return the beef to the pot, cook for 5 minutes then set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat the remaining 25 grams butter with the remaining oil and, in batches, cook the mushrooms over a medium-high heat. Add to the beef. Stir to combine then refrigerate while you prepare the pie tins and pastry.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cut out eight 16cm circles of pastry and use to line the tins, ensuring it comes all the way to the top of the tins. Divide the parmesan among the pastry shells, then top with the beef and mushroom filling. Divide the caramelised onions on top of the beef. Brush the lip of the exposed pastry on each pie with the egg. Cut out 8 pastry lids and place on top of the filling. Use your thumbs or a fork to seal the edges. Brush with more egg wash, and cut 1-2 small steam holes in the lids with the tip of a sharp knife. Bake for 35-40 minutes until puffed and golden.