Although it’s officially spring, the current temperature begs to differ (feels like -16°C….ugh). So while we’re waiting for spring to actually greet us with more pleasant weather, I thought I needed to share this recipe with you before hearty stews and pies go into hibernation until next winter. Summer hibernation? Is that a thing? Anyways, here’s one last hearty dish to say goodbye to the cold and a hopeful hello to the warm weather!
I’ll be honest, I was inspired to make these individual pies after picking up a couple of cast iron mini skillets. I’m a huge fan of cast iron. A good cast iron pan is durable, has a high heat capacity, and is endlessly useful. It’ll be your “go-to” for everything from baking bread to searing steak.
But there are a few things to keep in mind. Cast iron takes on the flavour of whatever you’re cooking. So if you cook beef one night and plan on baking an apple pie another night, make sure you really wipe it down. Otherwise, I hope you like apple pie with subtle hints of steak! Another thing to take into account is the acidity of the food that you’re cooking. Acidic food will react with cast iron, giving off a metallic taste and potentially damaging the pan.
And lastly, a quick note about caring for your new kitchen sidekick. Immediately clean it after use by hand washing it and thoroughly dry it with a kitchen towel. Don’t let it soak in water or it may rust. Finally, apply a light coat of vegetable oil to the inside of your pan to “season” it.
Anyways, I digress. Back to these mini pies. They…are…mouthwatering. Chunks of beef are braised for a couple hours in a stout beer along with all the essential vegetables, herbs, and spices. Plus, braising everything in stout is also an excuse to enjoy some beer while you cook! A little for the beef, and a little for you. But what really brings these pies over the edge is the pastry. I used puff pastry with good ol’ British Stilton cheese baked right in. Like most kids, I used to think that Stilton was horrendously smelly. But now, the smellier the better. And baked into buttery puff pasty? Well that’s pretty much an epic cheese and cracker.
The final results = melt-in-your-mouth beef and tender veggies in a rich and heavenly sauce, topped with cheesy puff pastry. So. Good. And if you’re a beer fan, why not buy a couple extra stouts to drink along with these beef pies? Cheers!
- Makes two mini pies or one 9” pie
- 450g stewing beef, cut into 1 ½” cubes
- 1 tall can stout beer
- 1 ½ cups beef stock
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1 bunch thyme
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup green peas
- 1/3 cup carrot, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 100g button mushrooms, cut into halves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 200g puff pastry (1/2 box of Tenderflake puff pastry, thawed)
- ¼ cup Stilton cheese, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear beef until browned; transfer to a plate. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery; cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add beer and beef stock. Return beef to pot and add bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Cover and bake until beef is very tender, 1 ½ - 2 hours.
- Transfer beef to a plate. Strain liquid. Simmer until reduced to about 2 cups.
- While sauce is reducing, cook carrots, mushrooms, and peas. Add to sauce and stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Horizontally cut the puff pastry to 3 layers. Place Stilton cheese between each layer. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a rectangle, about 1/4 " thick. Brush edges of baking dish with beaten egg. Place pastry over filling; trim excess. Use a fork to press pastry to the edges of plate. Brush top of pastry with egg and cut three slits in the top. Bake until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 25 minutes.