Despite its name, it’s really a meat pie, that just happens to use the heel (aka “fetlock”) of a cow to thicken it, producing a rich, unctuous, lip-sticking gravy.
You can buy cow heels at some butchers, cleaned, bleached and ready for use.
The meat is usually beef, but can be mutton, or rabbit. Some restaurants may call their pie “steak and cow-heel pie”, but it’s really stewing beef, not steak.
The meat is stewed up with onions and the cow-heel. Once stewed, it’s then put into an oven-safe dish, covered with a crust (usually a suet crust), and baked. You leave the cow-heel right in the pie. Most of it melts down into a jelly, forming a very thick gravy in the pie.
Cow-Heel Pie is usually served with mashed potato and vegetables.
1 pound (450 g) stewing beef
1 tablespoon flour
1 cow heel
2 cups / 16 oz / 500 ml stock
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 top pie crust
Start heating oven to 300 F / 150 C, gas mark 2.
Cube the stewing beef, dredge in flour, brown a bit in a frying pan.
Joint the cow-heel, and wash well.
Put the beef, cow-heel and parsley in a deep, oven-safe casserole dish. Add stock. Cover, pop into oven for 3 to 4 hours until meat is quiet tender.
Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 425 F / 220 C / gas mark 7.
Ladle out or pour out two-thirds of the liquid from the casserole; this goes into a saucepan, and you make the gravy from it.
Cover the dish with the pie crust. Brush with milk or beaten egg. Put back in oven until pastry is cooked and golden.
(It’s not strictly authentic, but a puff pastry crust is nice on this.)
Literature & Lore
Desperate Dan was a comic-book character who got his strength from eating cow-heel pie.