Sunday, December 21, 2008
Kick-Ass Steak and Stout Pie
The last 48+ hours of ball-freezing weather we received in Boston has really been an experience. We had hoped Saturday to travel south to Somerset to my cousin's annual Christmas Caroling Party but the 24+ hours of winter storm prior to the party left me little doubt that the safe play was to stay off the highways for 60+ mile drives. Damn. I was looking forward to the food, the beer, the company, the beer, the glogg, the beer, the caroling, the beer, the whiskey, the beer, and the beer.
As a humble donation to the festivities, we had made a steak and stout pie. It's one of my favorite dishes, great pub food, and perfect on a cold winter's day. We have a recipe we use, and it is not written down at all. Until now. I will tell you up front. Make this. It is so good, you won't know whether you should eat it or hump it.
1 lb top round, cut into bite sized pieces
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
8 oz stout
Broth - beef or chicken
Pastry - either short crust or puff pastry.
Fry bacon and onions together until the onions are done (translucent, but not browned). Remove and set aside, leaving as much fat in the pan as possible. Working with the big iron skillet, I needed to add some olive oil to make sure I'd have enough to brown the beef. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Dredge the beef in the flour mixture and immediately place in the hot oil to brown. When browned, return bacon and onions to the pan. In this case, I transferred the entire contents of the skillet (including the brown crusty bits - they make it yummy! - to a large pot. Add carrots, worcestershire sauce and stout, and then add broth to just cover. Set heat to medium and simmer for several hours. We cooked this one for about three hours, but we've done this previously when we simmered it all day; the longer you can leave the mixture on, the better! Replenish liquid - using either broth or water - as it cooks off. We find the carrots are a good thing - if the stout you use is an overly dry kind (like Guinness Extra) the sugars in the carrots will balance it out nicely. Plus, they allow you to say "Hey, this is healthy...see? I put carrots in!" The brown sugar is optional and can be used to cut the bitterness of the gravy if you wish. We haven't done that before, but we were using particularly strong stout (the final, flat 8 oz of the Poszharnik Imperial Stout) and it needed it, so after about 90 min of simmering we put it in. When done, you want to have a rich, thick (I mean thick!), dark filling - then it's ready to put in the oven.
My favorite way to do this is to make a deep-dish, two-crust pie with a traditional short crust. This time we simply put it in a baking dish, covered it with pre-made puff pastry, brushed it with milk and put it in a 400° oven until the crust was done. We had to cover the edges with foil after about 30 minutes to keep them from over-browning.
It's great as the meat in a "meat and three". Enjoy with a nice, hoppy ale. Tremendously satisfying, as the last steak and stout pie I had was a pre-made frozen one in a "pub" near the hotel I was staying at across the road from Heathrow Airport in October. Very disappointing to be in England and get a piece of crap like that!
This recipe will serve four. Two if you want seconds. One if you're a pig. I didn't have seconds yesterday, but I did polish off the last two servings (like a piggy) today. The coffee flavors in the Pozharnik was evident in the gravy, I was surprised to taste it, but even more surprised that it really enhanced the flavor of the whole dish.