Because every rainy day deserves hearty, silky, stout-infused pie.
I woke up this morning to the sound of rain pouring (and I mean, really pouring) on our roof. Given that it hasn’t rained a decent amount here in going on almost four years, it really is a glorious sound, on the odd occasion you get to hear it. It is even arguable as to which is louder; the rain on the roof or on the ground, which is no longer covered in lawn and is as hard as concrete. Either way, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to wake up on a Sunday morning.
With a full day at my disposal, the kids happily making doona forts and any chance of tinkering in the garden now out of the question (with the sky juice readily pouring, I wasn’t going to complain), I got to thinking of Netflix and, well, food.
Spring in North Queensland is a beautiful time of year, but make no mistake, the weather is swiftly warming up. Spring here in fact, is almost deprived of the right to be called its own season – it is merely a vessel to slightly blur the line between the ‘cool’ that is our winter, and ‘stinking hot’, which is pretty much every day between the beginning of October to the end of May.
That being said, one doesn’t really associate ‘comfort food’ with 30C temps and 70% humidity. That also being said, I am one who takes what they can get, so relative humidity be damned… if it’s drizzly outside, I am going to cook something hearty.
Guinness Pie is a massive favourite of mine, when done well. I will confess here that I am not actually a huge fan of Guinness. I can drink it, but in very small portions as I find it just too heavy, without a profile of flavour that I believe compensates for that weight. Put it in a pie however, and I am sold.
This steak and Guinness pie brings together one of Australia’s most famous products (gorgeous, grass-fed beef) and one of Ireland’s (a tall, dark and have-some stout), making it a marriage of two pretty awesome cultures.
The long, slow cook of the filling conceives not just gorgeous, tender beef, but it also allows the flavour of the Guinness to infuse through the meat and vegetables to produce a thick, opulent sauce. It really is everything you want in home cooking.
The perfect steak and stout pie must have a thick, dark gravy and the meat must be tender and pull with ease. The secret is to let the stew filling cook for as long as possible. This brings with it so many benefits, the first being that you can get it all on the hob on a lazy Sunday and then spend your day feeling super cozy, while your house smells amazing. Alternatively, it’s perfect for a busy weekday, if you want to swap out the dutch oven for the slow cooker and then just assemble the pies when you get home from a busy day at work.
This particular recipe is one that I have curated over time, starting from the great Gordon Ramsay’s Beef and Guinness Pie recipe. It’s a belief of mine that recipes are subjective, so it is important to tweak them to suit your own tastes, make them your own. If the world were meant for us all to just be following someone else’s recipes, then we would all be master chefs. Get creative and don’t be scared to do so. So I have made the addition of some gorgeous, salty pancetta, some rosemary and sage, and replaced the shortcrust pastry with the puffier stuff (it’s just more fun with savoury dishes, in my opinion).
I have two main tips when it comes to making the most of this dish: Buy the cheaper, fattier chuck steak by all means, but look for grass-fed wherever possible. No matter what, look for steaks that aren’t pre-cubed. Dice the meat up yourself so that you can ensure consistently generous-sized chunks of beef in your feeling. Believe me, the extra effort is well worth it. Secondly, don’t fuss. Throw what you want into this mix when it comes to your choice of vegies and herbs, but just let it be what it is. Let it cook, sloooowly and the robust flavours will be born on their own.
Lastly, I just use store-bought puff pastry for this, but you could most certainly make your own if you’re game. If you have made your own puff pastry before, please drop me a line to let me know how it turned out. I love the idea of stupid amounts of butter, but haven’t been quite game enough to try it… yet.
At the end of the day, this one is a true winter warmer; but I have zero regrets about pulling out all the stops to make it happen in the rain and humidity. ZERO. It’s excellent for so many reasons and would also pass as a pretty great dish for those evenings when you might be trying to impress. Dish it up with some perfectly steamed baby peas, or some boiled baby potatoes. A side salad would also suit (but we all know what they say about winning friends with salad).
Despite a few hours in wait time, this dish rewards. Oh boy, it does. Big, tender chunks of gorgeous meat, glistening in shiny, robust gravy, all done so well that each ingredient holds its own.
It gets people every time.
Steak and Guinness Pot Pies
Because every rainy day deserves hearty, silky, stout-infused pie.
- 1kg grass-fed chuck steak
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 brown onion, sliced
- 200g sliced Pancetta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups Guinness (or other dark stout), divided
- 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
- 200g mushrooms, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 sheets puff pastry, thawed
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Place the plain flour into a large bowl or clip-seal bag and season generously with salt and pepper.
Cut the steak into 2.5cm – 3cm cubes and place in the bowl or bag with the flour.
Toss the beef until evenly coated with the flour mixture.
Heat half the oil in a large stock or crock pot over high heat. Brown the meat in batches until brown and crispy around the edges (approximately 2 minutes per side). Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining meat.
Once the beef is browned, add the remaining oil, onion, garlic and pancetta to the pot. Cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and softened.
Deglaze the pot with half a cup of Guinness and scrape the bottom and sides with a wooden spoon. Allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.
Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, sugar, herbs and stir.
Add remaining beer and beef stock. Season with remaining salt and pepper.
Stir in mushrooms and beef and mix to combine. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for 4 hours, checking and stirring frequently.
After gravy has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200C and generously coat the inside of 6 ramekins or individual pie dishes with a spray of oil.
Cut puff pastry into 12 x 12.5cm squares (approx).
Divide cooled mixture evenly into greased ramekins/pie dishes. Lift one square of pastry onto each pie and brush with beaten egg. Using a small knife, slice a thin slit into the centre of the pastry lid.
Repeat by lifting a second square of pastry, layered onto each pie at a 45 degree turn to the first. Brush with beaten egg and slice a second slit into the centre of the pastry. Sprinkle poppy seeds from a height, across the top of each pie.
Place the pies onto a baking tray (to catch any drips) and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden, risen and flaky.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve with your desired sides.