Well hello there again, it’s Louisa here guest blogging from Chez Foti. After the fun of our last Christmas bloggy swop (Bûche de Noël) we decided to go for it again and this time our theme was appropriately ‘comfort food’. Now I’m sure Anneli will agree the weather down here’s been worse than atrocious and I’m informed statistically it’s the wettest winter in 90 years, which I can absolutely believe. Most unlike my first two laughably warm and sunshiny Januarys I’ve spent here. Eh well, shouldn’t complain. But I am English!.
So on a theme of Comfort Food, what to make? My good friend Wiki explains Comfort Food as a traditionally eaten food (often providing a nostalgic or sentimental feeling) providing the diner with an easy-to-digest meal, soft in consistency, and rich in calories. Well my ultimate comfort food, that I so happen to be just a little bit nostalgic and sentimental about, would be a good old British Pie. And it’s certainly soft in consistency and high in calories, though not necessarily easy to digest!. I’m talking about a pie with a fat puff pastry topping concealing hidden treasures of melt-in-the-mouth tender beef in a rich and sumptuous oozy gravy. And not being able to decide whether to go for a Beef in Ale or a Beef & Stilton I opted to combine them both, and I have to admit this is one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve had my fair share, no comments required!.
So my Beef, Beer & Stilton Pie was born, complete with a homemade Rough Puff pastry top and stuffed full of tender as tender can be Beef and Mushrooms floating in a British Beer and Stilton gravy. We had ours for Sunday lunch with lashings of Leek & Mustard Mash, and homegrown sprouts and carrots. Comfort Food Nirvana.
I should point out this isn’t a quick fix comfort food dinner, the pie does take it’s time, but it’s so worth it. I happily spent a wonderful lazy Sunday slowly putting it together, between doggie walks, playing with the kids, brunch and a spot of paper reading. The beef needs to be marinated for a few hours, preferably overnight, then slow cooked for a couple of hours. And pastry needs to be made, homemade rough puff is surprisingly straightforward and well worth the effort – I used half this recipe from the BBC Good Food site – roughpuff-pastry, but you could happily cheat on this bit and buy ready made puff pastry. And then there’s a little assembly work and baking. A perfect way to spend a Sunday!.
A Very British Beef, Beer & Stilton Pie
Serves 4 – 6
1000g of Stewing Beef, cut into 2-3cm chunks
500ml of British Beer or Ale (not lager)
a small bunch of Thyme Sprigs, tied together
2 Bay Leaves
a teaspoon of coarsely ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons of Plain Flour
2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
a large Onion, diced
2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
200g of Button Mushrooms, whole if small, halved or quartered if a little on the big side
400ml of Beef Stock
2 Anchovy Fillets (in oil)
80g of Stilton, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper
250g of homemade Rough Puff or bought Puff Pastry, plus a little flour for rolling
an Egg, beaten
Special Equipment: An ovenproof Pie Dish!
Start with marinating your beef. Place in a non-metallic bowl along with the beer, thyme, bay leaves and a teaspoon of pepper. Slosh everything around a bit, cover and leave to marinate away for a good few hours, preferably overnight.
Strain the beef from the marinade, setting aside the herbs and marinade liquor for later use. Pat the beef thoroughly dry with kitchen roll. Place the flour in a bowl and coat the beef chunks in it.
Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish, on a medium to hot heat. Once hot fry off half the beef until lightly browned on all sides, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Heat another tablespoon of oil and fry off the rest of the beef and set aside.
Turn down the heat a little and fry the diced onion in the same pan, adding additional olive oil if it’s looking a little dry. Fry for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and mushrooms. Fry for a further 5 minutes.
Place the beef back in the pan, along with the marinade and herbs, beef stock and anchovy fillets. Bring to a simmer, partially cover the pan and allow to bubble away on a gentle heat for 1.5 to 2 hours. The beef should be meltingly tender and the ‘gravy’ much thickened and reduced. Once you’re happy it’s ready, remove the thyme and bay leaves and stir in the Stilton until it’s melted. Have a taste check, adding more salt and pepper to suit.
Place in your pie dish and set aside to cool a little whilst you prepare the pastry top.
Pre-heat your oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
Roll out your pastry, on a floured surface, to a size just a little bigger than your pie dish. Place over the top of the filling and crimp the edges and make a hole somewhere in the top to let out steam. Use any spare bits of pastry as decoration if you wish!. Brush the top with beaten egg.
Bake the pie for 40 to 45 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked, puffed up and golden.
Serve with lashings of mash (obligatory) and veggies (optional). Sit back, relax and enjoy. You will.
Please do drop by and see what Anneli’s take on Comfort Food is on my own blog: www.chezfoti.com.
What a lovely challenge, thanks so much Anneli! And well done for coming up with the wonderful, and appropriate, theme.
I am entering this recipe into Made With Love Mondays as it was completely made from scratch, including the pastry!