Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just for Sweetie

Sweetie has had a difficult March so far, but is feeling better and looking far better than the ladder which fortunately did all the breaking so Sweetie didn't have to when he fell. The joys of home projects! Since my knee is much better I decided to cheer him up with beef. I'm not sure what it is about beef and guys but some of them just have to have it on a regular basis. Since we're going with meat, we might as well have potatoes, too, so there were mashed potatoes and some peas of green since this was our St. Patrick's Day feast.

The dish is Beef and Guinnesss and Mushroom Pie and it is a winner! It reminded us both of a very similar dish we used to enjoy at an Irish pub which has since closed. There are no potatoes or other vegetables to get in the way of the intense, meaty flavor. The sauce in this dish (which is a pie in a very loose meaning of that word) is especially good.

The original recipe from Gourmet 2004 used tomato paste but I rarely have those little cans in my pantry. Since most recipes call for only a tablespoon or two and the cans have at least 8 tablespoons, they always end up in the back of the fridge growing fuzz since I have trouble just throwing them out once I've used the tablespoon or so, even knowing that I will not end up using the rest. The solution is to use tomato sauce and adjust the water in the recipe to compensate.

What a treat this is if you like beef. Tender cubes of slow cooked beef, a delicious sauce, savory mushrooms (my own addtion because Sweetie really likes mushrooms) and a sprinkle of parsley just because. Topping all that goodness is just enough flaky, buttery golden brown puff pastry. Don't bookmark this for next March 17th...make it soon for someone who loves beef and you will likely make it again and again. They will love you for it.

Beef Guinness and Mushroom Pie
Adapted from a Gourmet 2004 recipe

2 pounds bonless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground (if possible) black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup water
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can beef broth
1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
1 Tablespoon Worcestershir sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons butter
4 oz. sliced white mushrooms, wiped clean if necessary
4-5 stems Italian parsley

Ready-made, frozen puff pastry dough, thawed (I used the patty shells)
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place race in center or just below center of oven.

Place flour, salt and pepper in a clean paper bag and shake to combine. Pat beef dry and place 3-4 cubes at a time in the bag and shake to coat. Remove from bag, shaking off the excess flour and place on a plae. Heat the oil in a wide 5 -6 quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderate-high heat until oil is very hot. (I used a large soup pot...that way the grease spatter from the browning meat mostly stayed inside the pot. It is ovenproof and has a tight lid, so I baked the dish in it, too, and it worked perfectly.)

Brown the meat in 3-4 batches, turning at least once, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring the browned beef to a bowl as each batch is done.

Once all beef has been removed to the bowl, add the onion, garlic and water to the pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, stout, Worcestershire sauce and thyme and bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in beef and any juices from the bowl. Simmer one minute. Cover and transfer pot to the oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. If sauce is too thin, thicken with a slurry of 2 tablespoons each flour and water, stirred into the sauce and cooked until sauce thickens.

Let uncovered pot of cooked beef sit and cool completely, about 30 minutes. If stew is too warm while assembling pies, it will melt the uncooked pastry top.

While stew is cooling, melt butter in skillet and sauté' the mushrooms, letting them brown lightly on each side. While they are browning, chop the parsley in a fine mince.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Place baking dish or dishes onto a shallow baking pan. Divide cooled stew among the dishes (or put all in one large shallow baking dish). They won't be completely full. Spoon the cooked mushrooms over the stew, dividing evenly among the dishes. Sprinkle minced parsley over each dish.

Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin (if using full sheet of puff pastry dough) into a square about 1/8 inch thick. Trim edges and cut dough into quarters. If using patty shells, place one on top of each dish of stew, scored side down. If using pastry squares, place one on top of each dish of stew. Brush tops of either kind of pastry with the milk.

Bake pies in preheated oven until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake 5 minutes more to fully cook the dough. Serve right away. Sides that work well include almost anything with potatoes.


  1. Thanks for posting this! I'll be making this soon. I had some really good Guinness Beef Stew at an Irish pub two years ago during a visit with Mom. It may have had potatoes and carrots, I don't remember, but it had a wonderful flavor from the Guinness stout.

  2. I sooooo NEED one of these in my life..... it looks absolutely brill..

  3. I think my husband (and I :)would love this, even if it's not made on St. Patricks Day!