16 January 2010

Beef and Guinness Stew Pie. Sort of.

My dad went for a business trip to Zwickau - that's in the Eastern part of Germany. And he brought back several bottles of "Mauritius" beer. And it was very tasty stuff. Dark, slightly sweet, not too bitter. As I stayed with my parents over new year's, we drank quite a bit and suddenly I was remembering the taste of Guinness in the Irish Pub in Auckland, New Zealand. And my husband's tales of the pub in Hamilton, where he had a dish called "Beef in Guinness", a very dark, rich stew with fork-tender meat, served with garlic bread and - of course - a pint of Guinness. And so we made "Beef and Guinness" the next day, but with Mauritius. While we were cooking, my mom remebered having eaten pot pies on a trip to UK - and so we covered the stew with flaky pastry. The perfect winter food - and with the perfect timing, as it just stared to snow...

adapted from Epicurious and Food Network 

2 cups carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 parsnips, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 kg / 2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups / 375 ml Guinness (or other dark stout)
fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup mushrooms (I used sliced champignons)

1 package flaky pastry (from the freezer, thawed)
1 egg, beaten
fresh parsley

Peel the carrots and the parsnips and cut them into nice big chunks - in this case, slices 1 inch thick. And also cut the beef into 1-inch pieces. No need to be too exact here. 

Also, cut the garlic and onions quite coarsely, I like the garlic in slices. Leave the thyme as it is. And save the parsley for later.

This is a neat little trick: Pour the oil on the raw meat and toss until all the pieces are covered. And then add the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and toss again. When you now fry the meat, it will get a nice brown crust, but without flour lumps or too much flour so that it would feel breaded.

Heat up a large pot on medium-high until it is really hot, and only then pour in some oil. Fry the meat in batches until all sides are brown, then get it out and keep on a hot plate.

Throw in onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips and fry them in the hot oil until they have softened a bit. Add the tomato paste and also let it fry for some moments.

Letting the tomato paste fry makes for a caramelized flavor and gets rid of some of the sour edge.

The meat may now return to the pot. Mix it well with all the vegetables and add the thyme. Also, put in the mushrooms.

And now comes in the beer. Just pour it in until the meat and vegetables are just barely covered. Season with salt and let it cook covered until the meat is tender. That should take about 2 hours - or 1/2 hour when you're using a pressure cooker.
Add more liquid if too much is evaporating.

Remove the thyme and give it another taste - more salt, maybe a splash of Worcestershire Sauce? If you're really hungry, you can eat it just like that, just make sure you have some bread to steep up the sauce. It's delicious.
Maybe even some garlic bread straight from the oven...

But if you want to make little pot pies, fill some 1-cup ovenproof dishes 3/4 full. Then cover with the thawed flaky pastry. Trim the edges with a knife and crimp the dough on the edges.

Then brush it very lightly with a beaten egg and bake it for 25 minutes at 200°C / 400°F until the crust is dark golden.

Now grab a spoon and dig right in.

And of course you have some bottles of stout left. Right?


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