Beef, Guinness and Blue Cheese Pie

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I realise that a lot of my posts recently have featured the weather as a fairly strong component. I may be over 8000 miles away from home, but as a Brit i’m still going to moan about the weather. It must be something genetic. We’re never happy. We hate it when it rains,   we can’t stand the cold, but if the sun comes out we’re too hot and that’s not right either. In all honestly we probably do moan a bit too much.  Right now though a bit of moaning  feels justified. The weather is awful. It’s raining all the time. We’re not just talking a bit of drizzle, we’re talking downpours that soak you as soon as you leave the house. All my shoes are rapidly succumbing to one too many immersions in ankle deep puddles and are falling apart.  Umbrellas do nothing. Perhaps the worst thing is though, as soon as we get a little rest bite from the rain the humidity and the heat shoots up and being outside is like walking through a sauna. So there’s the problem. Rain or no rain, at the moment the weather is grim.

In such horrible, rainy weather there is only one thing to do. Eat pie. It’s almost a rule, when  it’s miserable outside you need to tuck into something hearty,  rich and preferably topped with pastry.

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This pie was inspired by this Rough Tough Gentleman’s Pie over on the The Londoner. I spent yesterday hiding from the rain, flicking through the internet, reading back through blogs. I saw this pie and was inspired to try my very first rough puff pastry.  I’ve worked with shortcrust pastry before, and made croissants, which has a similar process of folding and re-rolling, but pastry is still a nerve wracking creation. All that work goes into it, but you have to wait until you cut through the finished pie, hours later, to find out if it has worked. I’m quite pleased with the results, the pastry turned out nicely, although i didn’t get much rise out of it. As you can see from the pictures, its quite a rustic looking first attempt. I think we might call it homey, countrified or comforting. After making it, I found this wonderful guide by Emma at Poires au Chocolat, which I’m defiantly going to use very soon to try and refine my pastry making. I know now I was too rough with my pastry, it needs to be treated gently. I’ll tell you how I made my pastry in the recipe, but if it’s your first time I’d definitely suggest you read Emma’s guide first.   Any tips you may have for the perfect rough puff would be greatly appreciated too.

This is a very masculine pie. It’s full of tender beef, earthy mushrooms, Guinness and strong blue cheese. It’s all wrapped in buttery, light, crispy pastry. Served with a pile of creamy mash, it’s the perfect thing for a wet dismal day.

Beef, Guinness and Blue Cheese Pie

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(adapted from The Londoner)

Serves 4

Ingredients 

For the Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, diced

4 portabello mushrooms, chopped

2 gloves of garlic, finely chopped

200g stewing steak

1 tablespoon  plain flour

1 can Guinness

salt

pepper

rosemary

50g strong blue cheese

For the pastry

400g strong white bread flour

pinch of salt

200g cold butter, cubed

200ml ice cold water

1 egg (for an egg wash)

Method 

Begin by making the pie filling to give it plenty of time for the flavours to come together.

Add your olive oil to a pan, throw in your chopped onion and fry gently over a low heat for about five minutes until softened.

Add your chopped carrots, mushrooms and garlic to the pan. Stir it all together. Add the beef. Cook for about 5 minutes, give it a stir occasionally, until the beef has some colour.

Add your plain flour, salt, pepper and rosemary and mix until the flour has coated everything.

Add about a quarter of the Guinness and let it all bubble up and mix with the flour. Add the rest of the can. Put the lid on and gently simmer for about 2 hours, giving it a stir about every 15 minutes, and watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Uncover and let the sauce reduce until you have a thick, gooey sauce. At this stage you can leave the filling in the fridge overnight if you want to, or you can add it straight to the pastry.

While your filling is cooking, make your pastry.

First sift together your flour and salt.

Add in the the chopped butter and slowly add the iced water, mixing as you go. Blend it together with a table knife, then use your hands to gather together the rest of the  flour. You want to make sure your butter stays very cold, so don’t overwork the pastry at this stage.

Form the dough into a book shaped block. Begin to roll it out. You are aiming for a rectangle of pastry that is about three times as long as it is wide. Now think of your rectangle of dough in thirds. You are going to fold the top third of the the pastry dough down. You are then going to fold the bottom third of dough up. You should now have a very thick block of pastry, one third the size of your rectangle. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this stage. If you need something visual to help you understand I would recommend looking at Rosie or Emma‘s posts.

Roll your dough out again in the rectangle and repeat the process several times. I did it about six times. I didn’t rest the dough between rolling, but I think next time I will.

Wrap the pastry and put the block into the fridge for at least an hour.

Once the dough is chilled roll out your dough. You will need two thirds of the block for the base, and one third for the lid.

Gently put the base into a pie dish. Trim off any excess from around the edges. Fill the pie with the filling. Slice your cheese and scatter it across the top of the filling. Put on your pastry lid. Use your fingers to pinch together the edge, and the pastry scraps to decorate the top.

Brush with egg wash and put into a hot oven for around  40 – 50 minutes, until the top is golden.

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