Its nearing the end of the winter. But I live in Ireland so I’d say we’ve got a good month or so left of blistering cold weather which can only mean one thing.. comfort food! There’s nothing I love more when it’s cold outside that a nice hot dinner and a plate full of spuds! (I am Irish after all). Ireland is not short of hearty belly warming dishes; bacon, cabbage and potatoes being my favourite. But one dinner you cant beat is a good beef pie. So last Sunday that’s exactly what I brought to the family table!
Isn’t it just a picture of perfection. Although I do feel a bit guilty though, I bought the puff pastry!! Hey, some of us had to go to work! Since studying Culinary Arts in college, I have this desire to make everything from scratch and in a perfect world that’s what we all would do. But at the end of the day, who has the time roll and turn our all-butter puff pastry every 30 mins? That’s what I thought! While we are confessing, I also didn’t watch a pot of beef stock simmering for 8 hours! I had a little help from my old friend stock cube.
The biggest thing I learnt in college is the importance of seasoning. I never seasoned anything really, a bit of salt on my chips and black pepper in my scrambled eggs, but that was as far as I went. A pinch of salt and pepper really can bring a dish to life though and now I season everything. As Irish people, we probably have mashed potatoes at least four times a week; if not more! If you don’t already, throw in a bit of salt and pepper and tell me they don’t taste a hundred times better! Mashed potatoes go perfect with a pie to slop up all the gravy. My family have also developed a weird obsession with Yorkshire puddings. Personally I am not a big fan when they’re soggy with gravy, but apparently that’s their purpose?
Nonetheless, we all left the table with clean plates. Not that surprising though to be honest, we do love our food! Hopefully you will enjoy this pie too, whether its for yourself or you family, but nothing says comfort like a good ‘aul pie :).
Beef Pie & Mashed Potatoes
serves: four hungry people 🙂
1.2kg stewing beef
2 small onions
2 whites of leeks
3 cloves of garlic
700ml beef stock*
25g plain flour & 25g butter
salt & pepper
6 tbsp butter
Ready roll puff pastry
– Dice your onions and leek and roughly chop the carrots.
– In a large pot with a splash of vegetable oil brown the meat in two parts over a high heat.
– Remove meat from the pan, but leave the juices and fat in the bottom. Add your vegetables and fry for about 4 minutes. Crush in the garlic and pop the meat back in.
– Pour over the beef stock and bring to the boil. Simmer it for an hour until the stock has thickened.
– Don’t worry if the sauce isn’t thick enough – we learnt a simple trick in college. It sounds fancy, but a ‘beurre manie’ is used to thicken soups and sauces. All you have to do is mix together the butter and flour (25g of each) with your fingers until it forms a smooth paste. Add a bit at a time to your sauce, whisking over the heat until it has reached the consistency you’re looking for. Simples!
– Preheat your oven to 200̊c (400f), or if like me you have a fan oven – 180̊c.
– Add your meat to your pie dish and pour over the sauce.
– Now for the super hard part (just kidding). Unroll the puff pastry, dab a bit of egg around the pie dish and pop the pastry on top. Trim around the edges and press the pastry to the dish with a fork. You can cut out shapes from the remaining pastry or just leave it plain, although it’s always nice to add your own little touch.
– Don’t forget to snip a couple of holes in your pastry with a scissors. Brush it with a beaten egg and put it in the oven until it is divinely golden brown (about 25 mins, although the back of the pastry packet should say).
– While your pie is in the oven, steam some potatoes for about 30 mins until you can easily put a knife though them.
– Add a splash of milk and the butter, season generously with salt and pepper (seriously, give it a go) and mash until you have fluffy lump free potatoes.
– Serve your pie with a dollop of mashed potatoes and enjoy in your warm and cosy house (pyjamas are totally acceptable).
*When I made up my beef stock I used 2 stock cubes which said to add 900ml of water. I only filled it up to 700ml, which resulted in a more concentrated flavour than if I had of made it up by packet instruction.