Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beef and Dark Ale Pie with Puff Pastry Lid

beef and dark ale pie puff pastry lid

I love reading cooking blogs often more than some magazines or big food portals and there is a reason for that. The reason is honesty.

Blogs are honest - the pictures you see are honest - no matter what equipment the blogger has used - from sophisticated DSLR cameras, tablets or mobile phones. The blogger would photograph the food as he sees it and would write about his own experience with it.

The most important for me to trust a recipe is to see it either step by step or to see the finished result. It is somehow understated that what is written should reflect what you see in the pictures. How otherwise could you decide whether you should give a recipe a go or not? There are far too many recipes that are either not explained well or just don't work and you don't need to waste your time, efforts and money on a non-working recipes or such with unpredictable results.

I remember the time when cookbooks had no pictures a all or very scarce usually in the middle of a large co book with a not of the photo which recipe is photographed and where to look for it in the book. I used to study the picture and then the recipe and was trying to figure out how following the method I should get the result in the picture.

I still do and this has helped me catch discrepancies between what I read and what I see. And that's when I feel deceived. It might be a nitpicking but when a recipe says garnish with chives I expect to see chives in the picture and not lamb's lettuce let's say.

Or when the recipe says to cut the meat at big chunks you don't expect to see finely julienned meat on the photo right? It's all about trust. And how to achieve what you see in the picture.

Don't get me wrong though - I like well styled photos, I even like overstyled photos. What I am calling for is a matching description and method. Because I need to trust the recipe so I could modify it the way I like without messing with the basics and still get a great result.

My research for ale and beef pie lead to several good looking results, one of which was Jamie Oliver's and this is what I came up with.

  beef and dark ale pie

My new favourite oven dish is a ceramic tagine - a deep casserole-style dish with a pointy lid but I guess all types of casseroles would do. The beef I used was my favourite Lefe brune.

I know it is not English hence not really an ale but the Guinness one is far too sour and bitter for my taste and I needed a more round taste. Lefe brune is fantastic.

 The other cheating I did was with the herbs - besides some fresh sprigs thyme I also used one pot of  *****'s herb infusion pot of thyme, bay leaves and parsley, but that could very well be replaced by the fresh herbs.

 As the puff pastry lid is placed on top of the dish and cooked for 15 minutes only - the beef and ale needs to be already cooked - so I just redistributed in individual pots with individual lids for serving suggestion and photographic purposes but the more sensible way would be to cook in one big pot. I also cooked the meat the day before as the flavours develop better after a day and on the day of the party the only thing needed to be cooked is the pastry lid (so it stays fresh and crusty too).

Beef and Ale Pie 
serves (8-10)

beef and dark ale pie products

1.5 kg beef brisket - cut into 2 cm cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fine corn flour
1 cup carrots - I used Chantenay trimemd
2-3 trimmed leeks chopped
4 red onions sliced
500 ml dark beer - (I used Lefe brune)
250 ml beef stock
1 pot herbal infusion or alternatively 
1-2 Bay leaves
3-4 sprigs thyme - leaves only 
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt to taste
250 g mushrooms sliced

200 g ready made all butter puff pastry
1 egg


Heat the olive oil and fry the sliced red onion and leeks for 3-4 minutes until soft and golden. In the meantime  dust the beef in the corn flour and add to the pan. Stir and turn for a while and add the beer, carrots, stock and spices. Finally add the mushrooms. Put a lid on and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

beef and dark ale pie

Transfer to an oven dish with a lid and bake to 180 C for 1h 30 minutes. Remove from the oven - stir and return to the oven for another 50 minutes. The liquid should be reduced and thickened.
Remove from the oven and keep overnight.
On the next day - work with chilled pastry - roll out the pastry and cut lids enough to cover your dishes. I cut one big circle for the oven dish (which was a tagine) and several smaller for the individual dishes.
If you feel creative you can cut out forms out of it as leaves, flowers, animals or anything else to decorate the pastry lid. Finally brush with the beaten egg (or better use the egg yolk only) and bake in 200 C preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Better served warm.

beef and dark ale pie


Neeli said...

I jumped over here from Foodgawker. I like Leffe as well. I made a similar version of a Belgian stoofvlees but with mushrooms. Do you think this recipe would be good with mushrooms? Gorgeous pics btw!

Sneige said...

Thank you! I actually put mushrooms in too. It was great!

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