Pie filling6 (1.5kg) beef cheeks, trimmedFor dusting:seasoned flour30 mlolive oil18small onions, such as pearl, cippoline or pickling, halved 2 stalks celery, diced1carrot, diced1 clove garlic, finely chopped150 gmspeck, diced500 ml (2 cups) beef stock375 ml stout30 mlWorcestershire sauce10 sprigs thyme3fresh bay leaves40 gmplain flour1egg, lightly beaten with 1tbsp of milkTo serve:mashed potatoes and peasThyme and onion pastry330 gmbutter, softened1small white onion, thinly sliced2 tbspthyme leaves2eggs40 mlmilk500 gmplain flour
Preheat oven to 150C. Dust beef in flour, shaking to remove excess. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add beef and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until brown, then transfer to a roasting pan. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic and speck and cook for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, then transfer to roasting pan. Add stock, stout and Worcestershire sauce to frying pan, bring to the boil, pour over beef mixture and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add thyme and bay leaves to beef mixture, cover tightly with foil and cook for 5 hours or until meat falls apart.
For pastry, melt 30gm butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft, then process in a food processor until smooth. Cool completely. Combine onion butter, thyme and 2 tsp sea salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale, add eggs and milk and beat to combine. Add flour, beat until just combined, then turn onto a lightly floured surface, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove beef from braising liquid and, using 2 forks, coarsely shred. Strain liquid into a saucepan, then add strained vegetables to beef. Simmer liquid over medium-high heat for 15 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups. Place flour in a small bowl, add enough liquid to make a thin, smooth paste, then add to simmering liquid, and cook, whisking continuously, for
4-5 minutes or until smooth and thick. Season to taste, pour over beef mixture and mix
to combine. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 180C. Roll half the pastry to 3mm thick on a floured surface and use to line
6 buttered 1 cup-capacity oval pie pans, trimming edges using a small knife. Spoon beef mixture into pans and brush pastry edges with eggwash. Roll remaining pastry to 3mm thick, place over beef mixture, pressing to seal edges and trimming with a small knife. Using a fork, press firmly around edges and brush pies with eggwash. Roll pastry scraps and use to decorate pies, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve immediately with mashed potatoes and peas.