Beef and Guinness Pie

Beefpie (h)

It’s St Patrick’s day today. Seems like a good day to make a beef and Guinness pie. As we all know, this is one of those great pub classics. Something I really love to order at my local. When it comes to pies I reckon this country is definitely where it’s at! Having said that, I don’t make them very often.

We all know about Guinness of course. That fine Irish stout of legend. Apparently, it was first brewed in 1759. I have never been to Ireland. I have always understood that the Guinness in Ireland was quite different to that which we get here. However, my Irish friend says that is not such the situation these days. Such is modern beer production, I suppose. Anyhow, it’s a damn fine drink and is really good in cooking.

The pie. The basic strategy is to do the pastry first as the dough needs to chill in the fridge for a while before it’s rolled out (I have no idea why). Whilst the pastry is chilling the filling can be put together. The pastry is dead easy. Flour, butter (or part lard if you prefer), water. As I’m not the best baker on the planet so I’ve had to resort to my Good Housekeeping Cookbook (where I’d be without it I don’t know…)

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Using your fingers, mix the butter into the flour. Really work it. You should end up with something quite crumbly. You don’t really want any lumps of butter in there so put the kitchen telly on or watch some Dearmartini video’s to pass the time. Next, add in cold water a bit at a time until a dough forms. Eventually, it gets to the point at which you can start kneading. To knead it I like to fold it between my hands (I do small quantities) until I can easily chuck it from one hand to the other. As you do this you can adjust the flour content if the mix should be too sticky. You adjust by sprinkling a little at a time on to the ball as you knead it. When done wrap it in cling film and bung it in the fridge. Apparently the chilling bit is really important.

Then move on to the filling. If you look at the recipes on the internet for this pie the filling does vary quite a bit. It’s like all of this kind of cooking. No strict rules. Although, obviously, beef and Guinness are essential.

Beefpie (2)

Guinness, casserole steak, onion, leek, tomato, celery, salt, pepper, dried herbs, butter.

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Brown the meat in a banging hot pan and remove to a colander to drain. This kind of supermarket beef seems to produce quite a lot of yukky gunk that I like to get rid of. While that is going on, soften up the other ingredients in the same pan. Turn the pan down for this. Throw the meat and veg in to the pie dish. Add the Guinness and some butter to the pan and get out a wooden spatula. keep the pan on a low-ish heat and use the spatula to get all those lovely crispy bits off the bottom and stirred in to the reducing liquid. Pour the liquid in to the pie dish. If you want to know how much, say 2/3 way up the dish? Something like that.

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Roll out the pastry and pop it on top to form the lid. Get it well sealed down and trim off the excess.

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If you should end up with the odd gap, hole, tear or whatever use the trimmings to plug them. After that, use the excess trimmings to make decoration on the top. Waste not, want not. Brush the top with beaten egg. Ideally, you should use one of those pie chimney type things. At the very least, make two or three steam vents with a knife. This is very important so don’t forget to do it (ahem…) 🙂

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Put it in to a hot oven. Gas mark 6 should do it. Because the filling is partially cooked, once the top is done the pie is done. Generally you can smell it, but check every twenty or ten minutes or so. About 40 minutes, something like that. It certainly shouldn’t take longer than an hour. What you end up with is a beautifully made pie with no breakages or boil outs (ahem…) 🙂

Beefpie (f)

Fantastic. Why not serve it with some colcannon?