This is a recipe I featured in The Irish Echo for the St. Patrick's Day edition of the paper.
As far as the cooking goes, when you are at stage three, don’t be tempted to brown the beef all in one go, if you do this you’ll overcrowd the pan and the meat will “sweat” instead of browning nicely.
You’ll also find when the onions and garlic are cooking in stage six the base of the pan will start to brown from the beef and bacon’s frying stage.This is perfectly normal and what you want, as you scrape all this sticky goodness into the sauce once you add the stock and beer to the pot and veggies.
To get a really creamy mash to accompany the pie, use Desiree potatoes and make sure you boil your potatoes until they are really soft, if you have any hardness in the middle you’ll find it a lot more difficult to get the mash really smooth and lump-free. I pass my mash through a fine sieve (after I pass it through a potato ricer) and whip it up in the pot with lots of warm milk, butter and a splash of cream.
Par-boil your cabbage and four or five super-finely sliced brussels sprouts then transfer both into a hot pan with a little olive oil and fry until they are crispy and golden, then add to the creamy mash. Seasoning the potatoes as you go with salt and lots of ground white pepper. Serve with an extra knob of butter or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Prep time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 2 hours Cost: About $40
750g beef chuck steak
2 tbsp flour
150g lean free-range bacon, cut into small cubes
1 brown onion, peeled + finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled + minced
1 carrot, washed + cut into 1cm slice
1 stick celery, cut into 1cm slices
1 leek, finely sliced
400g small button or Swiss Brown mushrooms (latter quartered if large)
Leaves from 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
Leaves from 4 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Small pinch ground nutmeg
500ml beef stock
550ml Coopers Dark Ale
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Olive oil for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
YOU WILL ALSO NEED
1 x 24cm x 24cm sheet pre-bought good-quality puff pastry (I used Careme)
1 free-range egg + a splash of milk (whisk together to form an egg wash)
Extra rosemary + thyme sprigs for garnish
Line a baking tray with paper towel. Set beside your stove top.
Cut excess fat from beef then cut meat into 2.5cm cubes, add to a mixing bowl along with flour and a pinch of salt, toss to coat meat evenly.
Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in deep, heavy-bottom casserole dish set over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the meat cubes and fry until browned on each side (this will take about 2.5 minutes – take care just to brown the meat, not actually cook it through).
Drain cubes using a slotted spoon and allow to rest on paper-lined tray. Repeat this process with the remaining two batches of meat.
Return the empty pot to the heat along with another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often until golden brown and crispy. Transfer meat into a small bowl.
Add another glug of olive oil to the pan followed by the onion and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often until soft and opaque – take care not to let the garlic burn.
Add the carrot, celery and leek frying for 3-4 minutes until leeks are soft, again stirring often. Then add the mushrooms and fry for another 2 minutes, pour in the stock, beer, tinned tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce, followed by the herbs, nutmeg, beef and bacon. Then season with a good pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir everything together well, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of
Cover the pot, leaving the lid open a tad, simmer over low heat for 11⁄2 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure the contents don’t stick to the bottom of the pot over the course of the simmering time. Note ~ if you like you can simmer the pie for longer, 1.5 hours is fine but if you have the time, feel free to simmer longer - say 2 - 2.5 hours
Preheat oven to 200 ̊C. After 11⁄2 hours transfer the contents into a large pie dish (mine measured 24cm round x 8cm deep), wet the edges of the dish then lay the puff pastry over the top. Liberally brush the top with egg wash then garnish the middle of the pie with a sprinkle of salt and sprig of rosemary and thyme.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top of the pastry is risen, golden and crisp.
Serve hot with mash.