Guinness pot pie

When Irish eyes (and pies) are smiling

Originally appeared in the March 17, 2010 edition of the Southside Times.

I used to joke with my friends that drinking a Guinness was like drinking a steak.  So for this week’s installment—and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day—I decided to make them a pair.  More after the jump:Starting with the beer, go for something hearty like a porter.  And while the robust and vetust Guinness is my stout recommendation, it’s not set in stone (Blarney or otherwise).  The slow-cooking technique of braising is ideal for breaking down the connective tissues of less-than-noble cuts of beef, hence the chuck meat; but you can use most any chuck-based variation for this recipe: pot roast, blade roast, eye or shoulder roast.  And while fennel is often associated with Italian cooking, it’s a fact that this aromatic vegetable was a staple in England well before the Norman Conquest.

And you can’t have “pie” without pastry.  Eggwash, applied to the actual casserole dish, acts glue; but brushing it over the puff pastry (available in the dessert section of the frozen food aisle) gives the pie a golden crust.

So there you have it—beer, beef, and bread: a delicious trinity for this pot-pie permutation.  Think of it as St. “Pat” pie.

Guinness pot pie

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ of a sweet onion, fine chop
  • ½ bulb of fennel, small chop
  • 2 pounds (roughly) of chuck beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • As needed, olive oil
  • 1, 14.9-ounce can of Guinness
  • 16 fluid ounces beef stock
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  In a large wide-bottom, high-sided sauté pan, heat oil and sear beef in batches (seasoning with salt and pepper), browning all sides before reserving in a separate bowl.  Reduce heat slightly and add onion; cook until caramelized.  Add fennel, cooking till translucent.  Sprinkle in flour, and add enough olive oil to make a paste.  Pour in Guinness and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits (“fond”) off the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a simmer, and reduce by half.  Add allspice and return beef (along with juices) to sauté pan, and pour in stock.  Simmer, uncovered, for about an hour (stir occasionally).

2.  Meanwhile, place your casserole dish over the top of the puff pastry, and trace the shape with a paring knife, cutting to allow a quarter-inch overlap for the rim of the dish.

3.  When the beef is tender and liquid has reduced to a thick gravy, add in peas; cook for five additional minutes before removing from heat and pouring into casserole dish.  Brush a bit of beaten egg around the lip of the dish before place pastry over the top.  Brush the top with egg and use a knife to create a few slender vents in the pastry.  Cook in 400° F oven until pastry is golden brown.

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