Last weekend, Rosemary and I must have been on the same wavelength. She made boeuf bourguignon, and I made another stewed beef recipe. The difference? I used beer and cheese, and I tucked it into a puff pastry shell. Both recipes are hearty and terrific for a cold night in. It is the time of year for comfort food.
This dinner was actually requested by my husband, Brandon: “Why don’t we have some sort of meat pie tonight?” That was all he needed to say. I had seen a Jamie At Home episode where the ever-adorable Jamie Oliver made this fantastic looking English beef pie with stout. And if that—covered in puff pastry and described in his all-too-cute British accent—didn’t sound good enough, he also threw in some sharp English cheddar! I mean, give me a break. How could this not be good?
Well, it is good. Actually, it’s beyond good. I had no idea that a beef pie could taste as complex and rich as this. The beef—we used brisket—cooks down with stout and some veggies for two and a half hours. It goes from a mostly-liquid mess to a dark, thick almost-gravy. Then, you stir in some cheddar to thicken it further and pour it into a prepared puff pastry pie shell. After topping it with a puff pastry lid, you bake it for another 45 minutes, until the pie is puffed, golden, and beautiful. Num.
The craziest part? When you slice into this pie, it stands right up—no pooling between slices. The filling is sturdy and oh-so-rich. I was really hungry before sitting down to dinner, but could only eat one slice. Brandon, however, ate half the pie in one sitting (and, soon after, laid down and fell asleep)—so abilities to withstand richness can differ. This is why I list the yield at six to eight servings. If you love rich food, and so do your friends and family, you may only get six (or, perhaps, four) slices out of this delightful pie. However, if you are like me, you might be able to divvy it up into eight servings. And, if you’re like Brandon, you might as well just cut the pie in two . . . and make sure you have a pillow close by.
Don’t be afraid of the lengthy cook time. In all actuality, the cook time is your friend. This dish takes all but 15 minutes to prepare, and then, you just let it cook. Cook. Stir. Cook. Stir. Place filling in pie. Cook. Eat. This pie uses a delicious all-butter, prepared puff pastry crust, so no cutting butter into flour is required. Just throw it all in a pot, sit down with a glass of wine (or stout), wait, and enjoy!
Beef, Stout, and Cheddar Pie
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Steak, Guinness, and Cheese Pie, yield 6-8 servings
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
- 6 cremini mushrooms, peeled and sliced
- 2 1/4 pounds beef brisket, or stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and minced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 440ml can or bottle of Stout (Guinness [Dry Stout] or an Imperial Stout work great—no chocolate or oatmeal stouts, and no lighter beers please!)
- 2 heaping tablespoons flour
- 5 ounces freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 9 ounces best-quality ready-made all-butter puff pastry
- 1 large egg with a tablespoon of water, beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and sautee for about 10 minutes—trying not to brown them too much. Turn the heat heat to high, and add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Mix everything together. Then, stir in the beef, rosemary, a large pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.
Fry on high for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the stout. Stir in the flour and, if needed, add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, and cover the pan with a lid. Place in the preheated oven for 1½ hours. Remove the pot from the oven and stir the stew, making sure to scrape bits off of the bottom. Place the pot back into the oven and cook for another hour. The meat should become extremely tender, and the stew should be thick and dark. If, after an hour, the meat is not tender and the stew is not thick, place the pot back in the oven. Cook until the stew is rich and the meat is flaky. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, then season with salt and pepper. Leave to cool.
Cut a third of the pastry off of the sheet. Lightly flour a clean workspace and roll both pieces of puff pastry with a floured rolling pin. Both sheets should be even and should be over an inch larger than a pie plate. Butter a deep, 9-inch pie plate, then line it with the larger sheet of pastry, leaving the edges of the pastry hanging over the sides. Pour the stew into the lined dish. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash (beaten egg and water).
Lay the other rolled sheet of pastry on top of the pie. Press the edges to seal the seams. Roll the overhanging pastry up to make decorative edges (do not trim the edges—they are delicious). Brush the top with egg wash, then bake the pie on the bottom rack of the oven for 45 minutes. The pastry should be puffed and golden. Serve with a simple salad or other simply-prepared green vegetable.