I’ve never tried making any of Jamie Oliver’s dishes at home. Although I really admire his beautiful rustic no-fuss style, he cooks with things like purple carrots or boar or whatever that while fascinating seem so foreign to me. Then I saw Jamie Oliver whip up three different pies on TV one time and they looked so delicious and easy (he always makes everything look so easy). I sat there salivating and entranced, his lisp disappearing into the background. One of those pies was this savory one with beef chunks stewed in Guinness and finished with cheddar cheese. I’d never made a savory pie before. It seemed doable and then and there I made a pact with the universe that one day, one day, I shall brave Jamie Oliver’s beef and Guinness pie. I finally did yesterday. It was a fantastic way to break in Diego’s newly renovated kitchen. The four-burner gas stove is pure love.
For Jamie Oliver’s beef and Guinness pie, you’ll need:
1 kg beef brisket
About 4 T olive oil
3 red onions
4 stalks celery (The local ones. If using imported ones that look like they’re on steroids, use 2.)
3 cloves garlic
A 200g pack of baby/portobello mushrooms
Roughly 1 pint Guinness (I say roughly because the tall can is neither quite a US nor a UK pint. But that’s according to my atrocious math skills.)
2 T butter plus extra for greasing your pie dish
a pinch salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh or about 1/2 t dried rosemary
1 T beef stock powder
2 heaping T flour
1 bag frozen green peas
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Ready rolled puff pastry (available in Santi’s)
1. Chop onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic and brisket. I chopped my brisket into pretty big chunks (what to me looked like 3/4-inch cubes) but in hindsight, I should’ve chopped them smaller. Slightly larger than bite size, maybe? Anyway, heat the olive oil in a big pot on medium heat. Sautee the onions until they start to get translucent. Isn’t this wooden spoon the cutest thing ever? Diego gave that to me as a gift. 🙂
2. Add in carrots, celery, garlic and butter. Add in mushrooms. Turn up the heat and stir to mix well. I used baby portobello mushrooms because I really like how it’s so intensely earthy but they’re pricey! Feel free to try a mix of portobello, shitake and button mushrooms.
3. Add in the brisket, rosemary, salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you’re using fresh rosemary, separate the leaves from the stem and chop them up. You know what would have been really nice, too? A couple bay leaves and some thyme. As Jamie Oliver would say, mushroom and thyme are best friends! Anyway. Mix well and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
4. Pour in the Guinness. The liquid should be just enough to barely cover the beef and vegetables. If you’re short, you can add water to make up for it. I had some beef stock powder on hand so I added about a tablespoon of it here and then added the flour. Stir to mix everything together and bring to a simmer.
5. Once it simmers, the pot is to be covered and placed inside an oven preheated to 350 F. My pot is as big as my oven. I just continued cooking it on the stove on low heat until the liquid reduced to my liking. It took about 3 hours with occasional stirring and it perfumed the entire apartment with the most delicious aromas. If you’re gonna make this in the oven, cook for about 2 and a half hours, occasionally checking to make sure it doesn’t dry up or burn. If it’s still too wet, you can finish reducing on the stove. Also, it is suggested that this pie is served on a bed of cooked peas but I decided to throw mine into the pie filling about 5 minutes before it was done.
6. When the liquid is reduced to your liking, turn off the heat and stir in half of the cheddar cheese. Mix well until the cheesy streaks disappear. Taste the liquid and adjust salt and pepper. Note: the meat filling will be topped with more cheese later so don’t go too crazy. Set aside.
7. Preheat oven to 200 C. Grease your pie dish with butter. Whisk one egg into a small bowl with a tablespoon of water to make egg wash. Bust out the ready rolled puff pastry. Oh, how exciting!
I’ve worked with puff pastry once and it was when I did the show True Confections with Chefs Aileen and Jackie. I use the word “worked” very loosely – the chefs did their magic and I watched. I thought it was the most fabulous thing I’ve ever seen, just genius! Anyway, I learned that once the puff pastry starts to thaw (and it thaws very fast), you have to work very quickly because the more it thaws, the harder it is to handle. So. For an 8 x 8 baking dish, you’ll need 2 sheets. Separate them (with the sharp tip of a knife, peel rest of the way) while frozen and leave them for a couple minutes to thaw. If you’re using a puff pastry block, roll out according to package instructions.
8. When puff pastry is thawed just enough, take one sheet and place on the bottom of the pie dish. If there’s any excess, just let it hang over the pie dish. Spoon in the meat filling and distribute evenly. Sprinkle the leftover grated cheese on top. Brush egg wash on to the edges of puff pastry. This will act as a glue for the second sheet.
9. Lightly score the second sheet of puff pastry with a knife so as not to cut through. Use it to cover the pie, making sure the scored side is up. Lightly press down on the edges to seal. Brush the top with egg wash.
10. Bake in the oven until the puff pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Oh. My. Pie. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Frankly, by the second hour of reducing the pie filling, I was starting to wonder if this pie was gonna be worth it. It also didn’t help that I was watching Contagion while waiting for it to reduce and I was going back and forth to check on it (I missed Day 1). Well, it was. This pie is so delicious, Diego and I finished half the pie in one sitting! I find that this recipe makes more than enough filling for one pie. I made 3 more mini pies with the leftover filling this morning.
Thank you Jamie Oliver, I’m in savory pie heaven.
Fun Food Fact: Beer doesn’t tenderize meat. If meat is marinated in beer too long, it will turn gray. Read more on cooking with beer here.