A traditional Irish recipe for the BEST PIE EVER with a few variations... Most recipes call for the stew to be oven-cooked in a casserole, and I don't have one large enough. So I used my biggest Baccarat heavy-based frypan and did it on the stovetop. Saves on washing-up time! Many recipes also call for individual ramekins of stew with a pastry topping, but I wanted a "proper" pie with pastry top and bottom. This is an awesomely rich and filling winter dish which is excellent served with creamy roasted-garlic mash and peas as per the below recipe. But you could also serve it with fresh/frozen steamed mixed veg, wilted English spinach, fresh crusty bread or oven-baked dinner rolls (soda bread would be a fine choice!)... or whatever else you have to hand. Hard to screw up, and keeps well for a couple of night's dinners! Reasonably priced per serve too, especially if you get a good deal on the chuck. Prep time - Stew: 1 hour / Pie: 20 minutes Cooking time - Stew: 3 - 4 hours / Pie: 1 hour (Best results will be achieved by preparing the stew a day ahead of time and refrigerating overnight) Ingredients - For the stew Click to view full size! - Large heavy-based frying pan - Neutral-tasting vegetable oil e.g. sunflower or light olive oil - 1kg good quality chuck steak, cut into large chunks - beef shin ("gravy beef") or other stewing/braising cuts may also be used, but may require increased cooking time - 2 rashers bacon, roughly chopped (double if using short-cut rashers) - 2 medium onions, chopped - 2 sticks celery, diced - 2 large/3 small cloves garlic, finely chopped - 2 medium carrots, diced - 2 cups button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered - 440ml can of Guinness - 500ml beef or vegetable stock (vegetable stock will give a less rich flavour which may be preferred) - 2 tbsp tomato paste - 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce - Cayenne Pepper sauce eg. Tabasco or Frank's (1 -2 tsp to taste, optional) - 1/3 cup plain flour - 1 tsp each freshly ground salt and pepper - A few sprigs of fresh stewing herbs e.g. Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram; leaves removed and roughly choppped (dried mixed herbs may be substituted but will not give as much flavour/aroma) - 3-4 bay leaves Woolies sells a " Beef Style Herb Kit" which is perfect, has everything you need except the Bay leaves. Ingredients - For the pie - Large casserole or pie dish - 3 sheets frozen ready-rolled puff pastry - Butter/Margarine and plain flour for greasing the dish - 1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing Ingredients - To serve - 6-8 potatoes, peeled and quartered (Desiree, Cream Delight, Royal Blue, Dutch Cream or others good for boiling/mashing) - 1/4 cup thickened cream - 2-3 cloves garlic - Light olive oil or other vegetable oil - 2/3 cup frozen peas or similar fresh/frozen veg per serve - Fresh English Parsley to garnish Method - For the Stew 1. Prep your ingredients. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Trim any large chunks of fat from the beef, along with the silverskin (intra-muscular membrane), but leave some finer veins of fat in the meat to add flavour. Cut into large chunks then dredge the beef pieces in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess, and transfer to a plate. Reserve the excess seasoned flour. 2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large heavy-based frypan over a medium heat and fry the floured beef in batches of 5-6 pieces at a time, turning as necessary until browned on all sides, then transfer to a plate. Add more oil as necessary and keep the heat moderate... remember, high heat toughens proteins! 3. Heat another dash of oil in the pan and sauté the onions and celery for ~5 minutes until they start to colour. Toss in the bacon and cook for a futher 5 minutes until it starts to brown. 4. Lower the heat a little and add the garlic, carrots, mushrooms and herbs to the pan. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until the carrots start to get some colour. Don't burn the garlic! Click to view full size! 5. Sprinkle the reserved seasoned flour over the mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for ~3 minutes or until the flour browns off. The mixture should be a fairly stodgy/clumpy by this point. 6. Return the beef pieces and any accumulated juices to the pan, then pour in about a third of the Guinness. Give the whole lot a good stir to dislodge any delicious baked-on crispy stuff from the bottom of the pan. Click to view full size! 7. Add the remaining Guinness along with the stock, tomato paste, worcestershire, bay leaves and pepper sauce if you want a bit of extra bite. Stir thoroughly until evenly combined. 8. Transfer the pan to a small burner/element, cover with a lid/serving plate/foil and simmer on lowest heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender and the gravy has thickened. Keep an eye on it in the last hour and simmer uncovered if the gravy doesn't seem to be thickening up enough. You want your pie filling to be dark, rich, thick and robust so it doesn't fall apart when you serve! Click to view full size! 9. Once the beef can be pulled apart with a fork, break up any large chunks into ~2cm pieces so the stew is a reasonably even consistency. Remove from heat. The pie can be made as soon as the filling has cooled to lukewarm, but best results will be achieved by transferring it to a container and refrigerating overnight. Method - For the Pie / To serve Click to view full size! 1. Defrost a few sheets of puff pastry, then lightly grease and flour a pie dish or shallow casserole, shaking off any excess flour. Line the bottom of the dish with one sheet of pastry and trim any excess pastry from the corners. 2. Cut three 2-3cm strips of pastry from the second sheet and lay them around the rim of the dish. Press to seal together with the bottom sheet on the inside of the rim. Click to view full size! 3. Add your filling and smooth out to an even layer with a bit of a mound in the middle of the pie. Lightly whisk an egg in a small bowl then use a pastry brush to lightly coat the pastry around the rim. 4. Preheat the oven to 190C. Cover the pie with the final sheet of pastry, trim the corners, and fold the edge of the pie over on itself. Crimp with a fork to seal. 5. Decorate the top of the pie with the trimmed bits of pastry if desired, then pierce the top in several places with a fork or sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Click to view full size! 6. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg to glaze, then transfer to the preheated oven for ~1 hour until crispy and golden brown. 7. About halfway through the cooking time, cut the tips/stems from a couple cloves of garlic (but don't fully peel them) then place them in a ramekin or coffee cup with a dash of oil and a splash of water. Chuck them in the oven next to the pie and give them a shake a couple of times during the next thirty minutes. 8. Get your potatoes on the boil around the same time, then drain and return the pan to the stovetop to steam off any excess water. The pie should be looking well on the way to golden brown deliciousness by this point. Rotate it if necessary to ensure the pastry cooks and browns evenly. 9. Once the pie looks close to done, pull out the garlic and let cool slightly. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the potatoes and add the cream, then mash until smooth. 10. Pull the pie out of the oven and let cool slightly while finishing your side dishes. Microwave or steam your peas/veges and reheat the mash over a low heat if required. Click to view full size! 11. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with a pint of Guinness or a nice Shiraz!