The interesting thing about steak, ale and mushroom pie is that unless you’re purchasing it from a takeaway shop, this dish isn’t really a pie. You could encase the entire beef mushroom stew (because that’s what this flavorful, hearty dish is) in pie crust, but it’s not necessary to appreciate all the intense flavor that defines a traditional British steak pie.
To do this dish justice, you’ll need two essentials: a good stout beer and time. Mind you, it won’t take all day to simmer the beef to tenderness but it’ll take a few hours. But here’s a little trick I learned in a pub in Edinburgh: marinate the boneless beef short ribs in beer for at least 36 hours. It cuts down cooking time and more importantly, gives the ale a chance to infuse the beef with its intrinsic, malty essence.
Hearty Steak, Ale and Mushroom Pie Recipe
2 1/2 lbs boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 can stout beer
Place beef in ziplock baggie. Pour in stout, squeeze out air and seal bag. Place in bowl and refrigerate for 36-48 hours.
2 garlic cloves, papery skins removed, minced
4 slices thick bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch lardons
1 large onion, diced
1/2 lb white or crimini mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered
2 T flour
4 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 T fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from stems, minced
1 T fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems
salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet frozen pastry crust, thawed
1 T water
Equipment needed: 4 individual crockery ramekins
Remove beef from marinade, reserving marinade. Pat beef dry. Place in bowl and toss with flour, coating evenly.
In large Dutch oven, render bacon lardons until medium brown. Remove from pot and reserve.
Brown beef in batches to avoid crowding. Add olive oil to bacon renderings if necessary with each batch. Remove each batch to clean bowl.
Lightly brown mushrooms but not to the point where they release fluids. Remove to plate and reserve.
Brown onion and garlic until golden but not crisped. Add 1/2 cup reserved marinade to pot and deglaze, scraping browned bits from bottom and sides.
Return beef and mushrooms to pot. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, beef stock and remainder of reserved marinade.
Add herbs to pot. Stir gently to combine.
Simmer covered on stove top for 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and continue cooking an additional 30 minutes to thicken stew until it coats the back of a spoon.
For Pastry Crust
Heat oven to 400°F.
Roll pastry crust on floured surface. Cut into individual rounds to place atop ramekins.
Mix egg and water in small bowl.
Gently place pastry on top of each ramekin. Brush with egg/water mixture.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden and has puffed up a bit. Serve with peas, carrots and leeks.
Not surprisingly, Feeding the Famished’s go-to wine guru, Stephanie Davis, took one look at this recipe and said, “Let’s put beer in a wine glass and get out of our comfort zone on this one!”
Are you up for a taste discovery to find something new to drink with dinner? The Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago makes a Belgian Style Wild Ale aged in Cabernet barrels that they call Juliet. Watch the beer foam as you pour the amber ale into your widest mouth wine glass. It’s a funky beverage with tang, hints of rye, herbs, grilled fruit and a load of curiosity. Even so, there is a lightness about it that lifts the palate and a finish that will marry well with the pastry crust. $25 for a 750mL bottle.
Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.
Interested in Drinking the Knock Water: A New Age Pilgrimage? Find it on Amazon and in Indie bookstores.
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