I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. This recipe is about as Irish as you can get – meat pie. The stew is rich with stout flavors and studded with bites of spicy green peppercorn. While I did go all out and made my own puff pastry this time, I have also made this dish with store-bought. The biggest difference is the thicker, more buttery bite of the homemade – if you have the time, do it yourself! As you can see, my pie tops fell into the soup bowls a little bit — I recommend making sure there is a substantial overlap of the dough over the sides before you bake. That being said, the slightly soggy, meaty pastry floating in the stew is pure heaven!
Beef and Guinness Pie, from Gourmet magazine, October 2004
(serves 4 as a main course)
2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbs. water
1 1/2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 c. beef broth
1 c. Guinness or other Irish stout
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Rough Puff Pastry dough (see below, or use the highest quality prepared dough you can find)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.
Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and cool stew completely, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (If stew is warm while assembling pies, it will melt uncooked pastry top.)
Put a shallow baking pan on middle rack of oven and increase oven temperature to 425°F.
Divide cooled stew among bowls (they won’t be completely full). Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Trim edges and cut dough into quarters. Stir together egg and water and brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around each square. Invert 1 square over each bowl and drape, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of remaining egg wash and freeze 15 minutes to thoroughly chill dough.
Bake pies in preheated shallow baking pan until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake 5 minutes more to fully cook dough.
Rough Puff Pastry Dough
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, frozen
5 to 6 Tbs. ice water
Sift together flour and salt into a chilled large metal bowl. Set a grater in flour mixture and coarsely grate frozen butter into flour, gently lifting flour and tossing to coat butter.
Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over flour mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.
Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: When it has the proper texture, it will hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add another tablespoon water, stirring until just incorporated and testing again. (If you overwork mixture or add too much water, pastry will be tough.)
Gather mixture together and form into a 5-inch square, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 30 minutes. (Dough will be lumpy and streaky.)
Roll out dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 15- by- 8-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you, then fold dough into thirds like a letter: bottom third up and top third down over dough. Rewrap dough and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Arrange dough with a short side nearest you on a floured surface and repeat rolling out, folding, and chilling 2 more times. Brush off any excess flour, then wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.