I feel so cliché posting a Guinness pie recipe on St. Patrick’s day – but it’s what was for dinner last night. The stew itself was left over from a TV segment I did last week – all I really did was top it with a slab quick and rough puff pastry that has lived in the fridge since about January, and popped it into the oven for the boys before heading out to a birthday party.
The filling is essentially a long-simmered beef stew – cubed beef browned and braised with a bottle of Guinness (or other stout), although it could as easily be done with red wine or beef stock. The first batch we ate as stew; the rest waited until it was time for pie. This is a sort of streamlined version of a Jamie Oliver recipe my mom has been making for years when a bunch of us get together – it’s great for a group. The kicker is a handful of grated aged cheddar scattered over the filling before covering it all with a puff pastry lid. Brushing the rim of the baking dish first with a little beaten egg acts as a glue to seal it all closed. And you’ll need that egg wash for a glossy top, too.
You could of course buy a chunk of frozen puff pastry, but this rough puff is a quick from-scratch puff version without all the labour of a more involved, proper puff. I used this Canadian Living formula and tutorial – sort of – mental note to come back to this in a later post.
If you run a sharp knife across the top, letting it slice all the way through only in a few places, you’ll get a sort of crosshatched top and allow the steam to escape. The whole thing can be kept in the fridge at this point until you’re ready to bake, at which point the filling will reheat as the pastry puffs. Look at the flakiness! It’s a great thing to dig into when there’s snow on the ground.
Beef & Guinness Pie
adapted from Jamie Oliver
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 large purple onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups quartered mushrooms
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
2 lbs. beef brisket or stewing beef, cut into 1-inchcubes
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
1 can or bottle of Guinness
chicken or beef stock or water
1 cup grated old cheddar (optional)
1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed (or half a batch of rough puff)
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork, for brushing on top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325F. In a large oven-proof casserole or medium pot, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add another drizzle of oil, sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper and brown it in the pan, turning to get as much colour as possible. Return the veggies to the pan, sprinkle everything with flour and stir to coat.
Pour the Guinness overtop, then add stock or water to come up to the top of the meat. Cover and place in the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the meat is very tender. If you like, cool and refrigerate overnight, or up to a few days.
When you’re ready to bake the pie, preheat the oven to 375F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out into a circle, square or rectangle slightly larger than your baking dish. (If you need to, transfer the beef mixture into a casserole or other baking dish.) In a small dish, beat the egg with a spoonful of water with a fork, and brush the edge of your baking dish with it. Drape the puff pastry overtop and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape. (If you like, cut a crisscross pattern with a sharp knife, without going all the way through the pastry.) Brush with the egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and deep golden, and the filling is bubbling through. Serves 6.