Steak & Guinness Pie

So! I’d like to start this off by saying thanks to Shiv and Maggie for their hospitality, in granting me a little corner of their food empire from which I might declaim my love for truffles. As both of them are totally awesome, and yet totally busy, I’m very glad to be able to have a chance to help them out! Of course, my first opportunity to help out in the New Year happened to coincide with the week that I started a new job, so maybe my assistance will be less…assistive than I was planning, but we’ll see how it goes. (laugh)

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Here’s where I’ve been at: it’s cold, it’s slushy, I’ve been watching a lot of the Cooking Channel while curled up with tea, and also I happen to be the proud owner of a brand new bright red Le Creuset cookpot in desperate need of an inaugural dish. If you put those ingredients in a bowl and stir briskly, you’ll most likely come up with some kind of ridiculously hearty, hot, and aromatic result…like Jamie Oliver’s Steak & Guinness Pie. Modified a touch from his original, of course, because I don’t have access to things like “my own garden” and therefore have to buy my mushrooms from the store, and also I couldn’t be buggered to walk the extra five blocks to find a store with frozen puff pastry, so I did it up with a drop-biscuit topping instead. (I like biscuits. So sue me.) This recipe has the benefit of making your house smell wonderful for hours while it bubbles, as well as being really spectacularly tasty. As an added bonus, because recipes involving red meat are thin on the ground as far as Shiv is concerned, consider this your daily quotient of beefy goodness.

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It’s really just a well-considered beef stew, reduced a bit in order to be called pie filling, and also braised in some lovely dark Guinness. As I mentioned, my version is a little bit less pie-ey due to lack of puff pastry, but the biscuits at least transform it into a potpie, if nothing else. Also, because I had been watching a tremendous amount of Two Fat Ladies, I added nutmeg to the biscuits and I have to say it may well be one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Yes, I know I just used nutmeg in the eggnog. It just seemed suited to the weather, and if nutmeg + beef was good enough for the Victorians, it’s good enough for me.

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You end up with a fall-apart meat and veg potpie in a sticky, savory, half-caramelized gravy, sharp cheddar oozing throughout, and the nutmeg in the not-too-heavy biscuits providing a prickly warmth. Give it a try on a sleepy bundled-up Sunday afternoon when you have the time to let it lazily bubble away. (Rumor has it there’s another snowstorm hitting the US Northeast again this weekend — so will you say the weather is forcing you to shovel out your car AGAIN…or will you say it is providing you the opportunity to eat this pie?)

Steak & Guinness Pie
adapted a touch from the wonderful Jamie Oliver

Pie Insides:
Olive oil
3 tbsp butter
3 medium red onions, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, peeled/chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled/chopped (I skipped these because I don’t like celery, but maybe you do and who am I to stop you)
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 lb brisket or stew beef, cut into bite-size cubes
Rosemary, chopped
1 can of Guinness
2 tbsp flour
1/2 lb grated Cheddar (I like the really sharp white stuff)

Biscuits (Adapted from Bon Appetit Jan 1991):
2 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 tsp grated nutmeg

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C)
  2. In a large ovenproof pot (hel-LO Le Creuset!), pour in some olive oil and soften up the onions on LOW heat for about ten minutes. Turn the heat up to med-high and pop in the butter, garlic, carrots, mushrooms and (if you must) celery. (Honestly whatever other veggies sound good can probably go in here. I think I threw in some sliced up scallions, but you probably couldn’t go too far wrong with some root vegetables or peas or whatever you like in your potpies.)
  3. Add the beef cubes and rosemary, a pinch of salt and a good teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Fry all this up for a couple minutes until your beef is browned up on the outsides.
  4. Pour in your can of Guinness, stir in the flour, and add enough water to cover. When this comes up to a simmer, kill the flame, put on a lid, and pop in the oven for two and a half hours, giving it a good solid stir halfway through. If it’s looking a little liquidy at the end of this, you can pop it back on the stovetop and reduce until it thickens up.
  5. Stir in half of the grated Cheddar, and season with salt/pepper.
  6. Here’s where Jamie Oliver gets into the puff pastry bit, but instead, we’re making biscuits! Start by cranking the oven up to 425 F.
  7. Mix together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, and either rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles a coarse meal, or just throw it in the food processor.
  8. Add the eggs, milk, and nutmeg, and stir until you get a nice dough. Knead it just a bit to make sure it’s all combined. That’s it — biscuits are easy! (err…ahem.)
  9. Back to the filling: Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the pot, and then drop the biscuit dough by spoonfuls around the top of that.
  10. Pop back in the oven without the lid for an additional 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are lovely and golden.
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