May 15, 2012

Beef and Guiness pies

In my last post, I told you about the peas that I made recently as a side dish for a dinner party.  This was served as part of a main meal which I also wanted to share with you.  But before I do, let me tell you about the inspiration for the main dish.

Miss Saltwater and I have been friends for a very long time.  Suffice it to say we used to run around the school playground together and followed the latest boy bands....NKOTB anyone? Embarrising now I know!  But we've remained firm friends ever since.  We also both love to cook.  Our cooking styles are similar in some ways and different in others.  This is really good for picking up new recipes and getting tips to renew old favourites.

One of the things Miss Saltwater cooks to perfection are pies.  And I'm not talking about your run of the mill pie.  I'm talking about melt in your mouth fillings with punchy flavour and crisp pastry.  She does some mean variations too like chicken and champagne.  But my firm favourite is her version of the Beef and Guiness pie.

The pie filling uses a can of the famous Irish Guiness.  This together with some stock and a few other bits and pieces is used to cook down the beef on really low temperature for 6 or 7 hours until it is absolutely tender to the point that the beef shreds itself.  The unfortunate thing is that I was rushing around so much on the night of the dinner that I never remembered to take a photo of the filling.  So hopefully you will just trust me when I say how utterly luscious and rich it was.

My tip for making this pie is to make the filling a day in advance and use cold filling to fill the pie dishes.  This way you will avoid the steam from the hot filling giving you soggy pastry.  Oh and speaking of pastry, the star of this pie really is the filling and as you are only using some puff pastry for the top, I would not bother with making pastry from scratch.  Although if you have the time and inclination then go for it.  In this case, I can recommend Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry recipe.

Beef & Guinness pies
Serves 8
1.6kg casserole or chuck steak, diced in 4 cm chunks
1 brown onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can Guinness Irish beer
3 Tbs tomato paste
300ml beef stock
2 Tbs caramelised onions, I used store bought
2 ready rolled sheets of puff pastry, thawed and cut into quartered into squares
S&P to taste
2 Tbs fresh thyme or rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tbs plain flour
Olive oil or spray for browning meat
Milk for brushing the pastry

1.       Heat olive oil in a non in a large heavy bottomed pot.  Brown the beef in batches.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.
2.       Heat 2 Tbs olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until transparent.  Return the beef to the pot.  Add the plain flour and fry for a couple of minutes to fry out the raw flour.
3.       Add the tomato paste and herbs and fry for a minute.
4.       Add the beef stock, Guinness and caramelised onions to the pan.  Add plenty of salt and pepper.  Stir well and cover.
5.       Simmer on very low and gentle heat for about 6 hours until the meat has started to break down and begins to look shredded.  Set aside to cool the beef mixture.
6.       Preheat oven to 180C.
7.       Fill oven proof ramekins with beef mixture to about ¾ full.  Cover with the pastry squares and press the pastry to seal it well against the ramekin.  Cut small incision in the middle of the pastry of each ramekin for the steam to be able to escape.
8.       Place ramekins on a baking tray.  Brush the pastry tops with a little milk and bake the pies for about 20-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked.
9.       Serve hot with a side of baked potatoes and peas (see the Petit Pois recipe here in my previous post).


yummychunklet said...

What golden and delicious tops!

Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said...

Lovely pie! I love the champagne and chicken idea too!

Hotly Spiced said...

Those are great looking pies Anna. I love the individual dishes - I'll have to get some of those to stuff in my over-stuffed cupboards xx

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love how you covered them with the puff pastry! Makes them so quick and easy to cook! :D

Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan said...

Dear Anna

The tip for using cold filling is definitely important so as not to end up with a soggy pastry. These pies are definitely a treat come winter.

Di from Life is Di-licious said...

Oh yum. I love making pies but haven't got around to it yet this year. I know there's some Guinness lurking in the beer fridge...I'm sure Mr Di-licious won't mind if I used one to make some of these pies!

Maggie's sour cream pastry is one of my all time favourites. Worth the effort!

I'll be adding this to this weekend's menu :-)