Beef and Guinness Pie

It seems that quite a lot of Guinness Extra Stout, that unrivaled Irish brew, has been showing up in (and disappearing from) my refrigerator lately. I got the bug on a recent trip to Dublin where, thanks to some good friends, I was treated to the deluxe tour of the Guinness facilities, including a private tasting and pouring lesson (take a tulip-shaped pint glass, pour at a 45 degree angle until the glass is three quarters full, let the pour settle, then fill by pouring into the center until the head extends just above the rim. It’s harder than you think!). We enjoyed many a pint while in Ireland, and we still craved it when we returned. I made it back with a few recipes published by the brewery (I must try to make that Guinness chocolate mousse someday!), one of which was for a meat pie using Guinness as the braising liquid for the meat. I revved it up a bit by adding Shiitake mushrooms and a puff pastry top. I like to serve these pies in individual ovenproof pots that they cook in, but you can cook it as one pie and spoon into bowls if you wish. If possible, make the stew the day before you plan to finish and serve the pies.

Beef and Guinness Pie

Heat the oven to 375 and take a package of frozen puff pastry sheets out of the freezer.

Chop 2 medium red onions, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip, 2 celery ribs and about 10 coarsely chopped Shiitake mushroom caps. Peel 4 garlic cloves. Cut 3 pounds of flank, brisket or round steak into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.

In a Dutch oven (preferably enameled cast iron), cook the chopped vegetables along with the mushrooms and whole garlic cloves over medium heat until the mushrooms’ liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. Add the beef along with 2 tablespoons flour and a large sprig of fresh rosemary and cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, tossing the beef often to brown.

Pour in enough Guinness to cover the meat. Cover and cook in the oven for about 2 hours. The meat should be tender and the liquid thickened. Fish out the garlic cloves and rosemary sprig. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the puff pastry from the package and gently roll out each sheet. Pour the stew into six individual cast iron pots or ramekins (alternatively, pour into a large casserole or deep pie pan). Using the tip of a knife, cut dough to the size and shape needed to cover the pies. Lay the dough over the top of each container and pinch around the edges to close. Make a couple of cuts in the center to allow steam to escape. Brush the pastry with 1 beaten egg, place pots on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is puffy and golden.

Makes 6 individual pies                                                                 Drink pairing      Let me think…

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