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Szechuan beef pie

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800g Beef chuck, trimmed of fat, 2.5cm diced
1 tsp Sunflower oil
1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns (or black peppercorns)
2 Onions, cut into wedges
2 Carrots, chopped on the diagonal
2 Cups parsnip, peeled and diced
2 Cloves garlic, sliced
1 Long red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp Toasted sesame paste (or tahini)
500ml Salt reduced beef stock
2 heaped tsps Cornflour
2 Spring onions, sliced
Sweet potato topping
500g Sweet potato
1 tsp Finely grated ginger
4 Steamed choy sum (or similar Asian green), to serve


1 Drizzle beef with sunflower oil in a bowl and toss to coat. Toast Szechuan peppercorns in a small frying pan until fragrant, do not burn. Tip into a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.
2 Place a large cast iron casserole dish or wok over medium high heat. Brown beef in 2-3 batches, add ground peppercorns, onions, carrots, parsnip, garlic, chilli, soy, sesame paste and stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes or until beef is tender.
3 Mix a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid with the cornflour to a smooth paste and stir into mixture. Cook for 5-10 minutes until mixture thickens. Add spring onions.
4 Meanwhile steam sweet potato and mash with ginger. Preheat oven to 200oC. Divide pie filling between 4 x 1 cup-capacity ramekins and top with sweet potato topping.
5 Bake pies for 15 minutes or until golden and serve with steamed greens.


1 Szechuan peppercorns are available from Asian grocers or the Asian section in supermarkets. If you don't have a mortar and pestle to crush the peppercorns you can place them in a zip lock bag and whack them with a rolling pin.
2 If you don't have toasted sesame paste or tahini substitute 1 teaspoon sesame oil mixed with 1 teaspoon peanut butter.
3 Make one large pie by using a 4-cup capacity baking dish or 8-9 inch pie plate.
4 Save time and use lean beef mince instead of chuck. Reduce the cooking time to 30 minutes and only use half the stock.