Recipe adapted from Epicurious’ Beef and Guinness Pie
- 1 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 Medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 pound baby carrots
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 cup Stout (I used Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- Rough puff pastry dough (I used canned crescent roll dough)
-Preheat oven to 350°F.
-Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a oven proof pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes, transferring to a bowl.
-Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
-Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and cool stew completely, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (If stew is warm while assembling pies, it will melt uncooked pastry top.)
-Put a shallow baking pan on middle rack of oven and increase oven temperature to 425°F.
-Divide cooled stew among bowls (they won’t be completely full). Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface and press to appropriate size to cover bowls, about 1/8 in. thick. Stir together egg and water and brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around each square (optional). Invert 1 square over each bowl and drape, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of remaining egg wash and freeze 15 minutes to thoroughly chill dough.
-Bake pies in preheated shallow baking pan until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
-Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake 5-10 minutes more to fully cook dough.
Probably the first word that comes to mind when trying to describe this dish is rich. Really, really rich. You probably know how beef stew tastes, well this is like the platonic ideal of beef stew, just as stewy as stew can be. At a few points I had to stop and rest, just to recover from the intensity of the flavor. It’s definitely something you don’t want to eat every day unless you want an early coronary, but it is a damn satisfying meal. The pastry crust, whether you make it yourself or use prepackaged stuff, is the ideal dipping medium for something like this, and the braised beef comes out with the perfect texture and flavor. Stout wise, I’m not really sure that the beef flavor comes through as much as I had hoped, so you may want to use a cheaper brand and save the good stuff for drinking yourself. The ramekin/small oven-proof bowls add to the presentation, and would make a great dish for entertaining a few friends. Who wouldn’t love to get their own personal stew-pie?
It’s a lengthy process to make, though fairly light on the labor and finesse, and the results make it well worth it. Just be ready to loosen your belt when you’re finished!