Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pastries of Death Part 3 - Eipnekcufesin

When I made this pie, the casserole dish I was using for the stewed beef cracked on the heat of the hob and the stew went everywhere.  Fortunately I was able to salvage it and make this pie, which served us well as pre-gig sustenance! \m/

Savoury pies are underrated (and very British) meals that are pretty easy to do and make use of cheap ingredients.  They're not always waistline-friendly but they're hearty, warming and delicious.  Plus there's something so appetising about opening that pastry lid and unleashing the hordes of flesh and gravy.  I made this one with beef and Guinness.  Note the "JHD" I put on the pie - a cunning reference to my legendary former band, Judgment Hammered Down.

Ingredients (to feed four-five English people):
  • 1kg good quality stewing beef
  • 1 x bottle/can of Guinness
  • 1 x 375g pack of ready-rolled puff pastry (nothing wrong with it, but if you really want to make your own, Delia Smith has a good recipe here
  • 1 x large white onion
  • A few thyme sprigs, tied together with an elastic band
  • 1 litre good quality beef stock
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Flour, to dust
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Get your beef out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to cook it and preheat your oven to 150 degrees.  Get your onion roughly diced into little chunks.
  2. Add some vegetable oil to a hot frying pan.  Cut the beef into bitesize chunks if your butcher hasn't done this already and season it well with salt and pepper (plenty of pepper - beef loves pepper like Dawn French loves doughnuts).  Lightly dust the chunks with flour and lightly brown them in the pan, then put them in a casserole dish - you may have to do this in batches as if you crowd the pan the beef will boil in its own juices and turn crap.  But on the other hand, don't be too overzealous with wanting to sear it - this is a n00b error that will make the meat turn tough.
  3. Turn the heat down a little and soften your onion in the pan for a few minutes with a little bit of sugar to help aid the caramelisation that will complement the bitter Guinness.  When ready, add about half a pint (Imperial measurements FTW) of Guinness to the frying pan and deglaze it by scraping the bottom with your spatula/a wooden spoon.  When it's reduced by about half, pour it (including all the onions) over the beef, then pour in enough stock to almost cover.  Mix it all up, chuck in your thyme sprigs, cover the casserole dish with foil, stab a few air-holes with a knife and put it in the oven to cook slowly for about two hours.
  4. While the beef is cooking, get a pie dish, put it upside down on your pastry and score around it so that you've got a lid that will cover the dish completely.  When the beef is done, raise the temperature of the oven to 220 degrees, discard the thyme and pour the stew into the pie dish.  Use strips of the excess pastry to form a lip around the edge of the pie dish, brush it with milk and carefully lay your lid on top.  Stab a couple of air holes in the middle so that it doesn't explode, brush the lid with milk and stick it in the oven for about 15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
  5. Serve with mashed potato and steamed vegetables.

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