Thursday, January 28, 2010

Steak and Guinness Pie

Having spent much of his youth in England, my husband has a weakness for any kind of meat stew wrapped in any kind of pastry dough. His mother makes him things like Steak and Kidney Pie which I have not tried yet. I love pâtés and fois gras so I am not sure why kidneys are the one particular organ meat I have trouble finding appetizing.  Years ago I grabbed one of Jamie Oliver's recipes for Steak and Guinness Pie and have made it a winter staple ever since.

The only issue I have with this dish is that Jamie calls for a puff pastry to be wrapped around the stew and for me, all together, that combination is a little too heavy. The stew itself is a filling comfort food and combined with a puff pastry shell it becomes almost too rich of a dish. The other problem I have is that the bottom dough was never crusting up as it should and gave way to the weight of the stew when I served it. So this week I decided to try something different. I used a simple pâte brisée pie crust and put it in a shallow tart pan with a removable bottom. Butter and flour your pan well and the pie will come out easily.

Things went well and the pie came out exactly as I wanted. The crust was strong enough to hold the shallow amount of filling in the tart pan. The other change I made, which was not intentional, a substitution of Magic Hat Ale for the Guinness. Just what I had on hand. Magic Hat Ale seemed to produce a stew a bit less bitter than it usually is with the Guinness.

Here is the recipe from Jamie Oliver's Website.


• olive oil
• 3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
• 30g butter, plus extra for greasing
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
• 4 field mushrooms, peeled and sliced
• 1kg brisket of beef or stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 x 440ml can of Guinness (no lager, please!)
• 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
• 200g freshly grated Cheddar cheese
• 500g best-quality ready-made all-butter puff pastry
• 1 large free-range or organic egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes – try not to colour them too much. Turn the heat up, add the garlic, butter, carrots and celery and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper.

Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back into the oven and continue to cook it for another hour, or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick. A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob and reduce until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, then season carefully and leave to cool slightly.

Cut about a third of the pastry off the block. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll both pieces of pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of a pound coin. Butter an appropriately sized pie dish, then line with the larger sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the side. Tip the stew into your lined dish and even it out before sprinkling over the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.

Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross it lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic. Brush the top with beaten egg, then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden. Delicious served simply with peas.