Friday, May 26, 2006

Beef and Guinness Pie

Miss L’s birthday and my birthday are quite close together. So we planned a little celebration at the half way point between the two. We both share an Irish ancestry – mine through the Doyle’s, her the O’Neill’s, so what better on a cold May evening, dan a wee sumpthin’ ta warm da noight, dat remoinds us a de ‘ol cuntree, ta be shur, ta be shur. Seasoned with the mysteries of Mr Guinness’s creamy black velvet.

But tragedy awaits, as it does in all good Irish yarns. After preparation of the mighty feast, which rightly begins several days beforehand, a sudden illness strikes the worthy guest on the morning of the great event. Get well soon Miss L, but what the feck am I going to do with a pile of B&G Pie filling large enough to fatten up Nerds FC? Enter blokes with appetites, at short notice, stage left. Selflessly G, Burgs and Bren buckle their swashes and stride in to help a sweet maiden (stop laughing) in distress. And like all good Irish heroines (put down the needles, not that sort) she serves up a heartwarming and hearty pie to her heros, with lashings of champ and peas. Don’cha lerv a happy ending?

1.5 kg stewing beef (chuck is ideal) cut into cubes1 packet of Continental beef and red wine casserole base (no, really, I’m serious)
2 leeks, white parts chopped
2 parsnips, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 x 440 ml can of Guinness
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp HP sauce
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh parsley
Pastry and egg wash to top the pies.

With the exception of pasta, I normally eschew packet stuff when cooking. But I’ve found this little mix really adds a kick to casseroles if used this way. Instead of seasoning your meat with flour, salt and pepper, pour the contents of the casserole mix over the beef cubes and stir to coat them. In a heavy pan (like a Le Creusset) heat olive oil on medium-hot temperature and sear the coated meat in batches and remove to a plate. When all the meat is done, lower the heat and add the vegetables. Stir frequently until they have sweated down – about 15 minutes, picking up all the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and herbs, the seared meat back to the pan, and stir to combine. Add the Guinness, bring up to the simmer, and add the beef stock and HP. Season to taste. Cover the pot with a lid and cook at 170°C for 1 ½ hours until the liquid is reduced and it’s jammy and unctuous. Allow to cool and stir through the parsley. At this stage leave it in the fridge for a couple of days if you can as the flavour intensifies.

Spoon the mixture into pie bowls and cover with a puff pastry lid, brush with egg wash and whack into a 220°C oven for 20 minutes to brown the pastry and heat the pie. Serve with champ (mashed potato with spring onions) and veg.

This comforting dish is just so right for winter nights. Not only is it warming, the parsnips and carrots lend a deep sweetness to the gravy that is contrasted with the bitter yet smooth Guinness in the background.

Min valiantly played with string to make sure it didn’t attack us while we ate. Good cat.


Blogger Julia said...

I must add 'pies' to my 'good things about winter' list - and yours sounds incredible.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Nora said...

Wow, sounds yum. Will try it this coming week. I like how the filling can be done before hand and the pie will be ready in a jiffy for a quick a weekday dinner. Thanks for sharing.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous helen said...

A real b&g pie! *weeps* The real McCafferty as opposed to this one I endured.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Thanks Julia - there's nothing like the crunch of pastry splitting to reveal the soft warm insides! Winter is the best season

Thanks Nora - let us all know how your pie goes!

Ew - Helen that looks like a sad example, and your description confirms it! How can an Irish pub hold it's head up and serve that!

7:51 AM  
Blogger neil said...

I love your Irish lilt, but I had to look twice at one of your words! What a great looking, dare I say it, manly pie. Just the thing to celebrate our fine win over the Greeks in the soccer last week. It also reminds us that it's not only the Greeks that have contributed to Australia as we know it. I'm off drink a pint or two.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

Which word? 'birthday'? I shouldn't use dirty words when I post, I know. Sorry :)

9:37 AM  

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