Sunday, February 23, 2014

Steak and Guinness Pie

Yes, it’s true, I’ve done my fair share of hanging out in pubs in my time, and there’s nothing quite like a good pub to take the edge off the day and provide a comfy, cozy locale to kick back with ya mates, mate.  A good pub, in my humble opinion, should have good beer (that goes without saying).  It should have a good environment--not too bright, not too loud--so one can converse in peace.  It should also have good pub faire, a.k.a. tucker, grub, vittles, or viands.  That is to say, it should have good food.  (Man does not live on beer alone)

Of all the various incarnations of pubs out there, the most friendly, the most inviting, the most welcoming sort has to be the Irish Pub.  Ubiquitous throughout the Emerald Isle, these dens of Gaelic Goodness can also be found worldwide in just about any sizable city worth its salt.  It was in one of these, in the fair city of Dublin, that I first tasted today’s delicious dish: Steak and Guinness pie. 

A variation of the steak and ale pie, this dish uses Guinness Stout as its signature ingredient, instead of a lighter ale, and the results are terrific.  The rich, black, malty stout produces an out-of-this-world flavor that makes this pie tops in the pub-grub department.

Steak and Guinness Pie

2 lbs Stew Meat (Cubed Chuck, Round or Similar Roast)
Olive Oil
1 Red Onion, Diced
3-5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 Carrots, Chopped
3 Celery Stalks, Chopped
12-15 Medium-Sized White Mushrooms, Halved
2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
24 Oz Guinness Stout
24 Oz Beef Stock (more as necessary to top up)
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Fresh-Ground Black Pepper, to Taste
1 Cup Grated Cheddar
1 Package (2 Sheets) Ready-Made Puff Pastry, Thawed
1 Egg, Yolk and White Whisked Together

Thaw your puff pastry sheets according to directions on the box.

Cut your steak into 1-inch cubes.

Brown the beef cubes in the olive oil.  

Remove and reserve. 

Sauté the diced onions until they are translucent and just beginning to brown, about 8-10 minutes.  

After about 5 minutes, add the garlic. 

Add the celery and carrots and stir, then continue cooking for a few minutes. 

Add the Mushrooms.  Cook a few minutes more. 

Return the beef to the pan.  

Add the dried thyme, tomato paste, flour, Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Add the Guinness Stout.  

Have a bottle or two for yourself as well.  This will of course aid the cooking process.

Add the beef stock until everything is just covered.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and put a lid on it.  

Allow to simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.   Keep an eye out that the liquid does not all boil away.  This shouldn’t happen if you’ve got things set on a low simmer, but it if does, add a bit more beef stock. 

After the 1.5 to 2 hours, check a piece of beef and make sure it is tender.  Continue to simmer if it is not, but it should be ready to go by this time.  If the concoction is still pretty liquidy, mix a little cornstarch with a few ounces of hot water, then add this to the stew and stir.  This will thicken it up nicely. 

Add the cheddar cheese and stir it in until it melts. 

Next, ladle the stew into ramekins or other small, oven-proof bowls.  

Set aside.

Now, back to that puff pastry.  Hopefully, it is nicely thawed by now.  Unroll one of the sheets on a well-floured surface.  

Divide it with a knife or pizza cutter into two relatively even pieces that will be able to cover your ramekins.  

Repeat with the other sheet and then blanket a piece over each ramekin of stew filling.  If you want, you can trim the puff pastry so that it just covers the ramekin, but I just let the excess hang down the sides.  That way there will be more delicious golden brown pastry top for eating. 

Using a Lamé or a sharp knife, cut some cris-cross slits into the puff pastry to allow steam to escape.  

Next, whisk the egg yolk and white together and then brush this mixture on the pastry tops.  

Heat your oven to 400F and bake these babies for 40-45 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and beautiful.  

Serve and enjoy, but be careful, the filling will be piping hot.  

Hopefully, you’ve still got some Guinness on hand to cool things off. 

Until next time,



Saturday, February 1, 2014

New York Reuben Sandwich


32 oz Corned Beef
4 Slices Rye Bread
8 oz Sauerkraut 
1/2 Cup Russian Dressing
4 Slices Swiss Cheese
4 Tablespoons Butter

Time to make one of my favorite deli sandwiches, the indefatigable Reuben Sandwich.  Last month we made homemade rye bread and Russian dressing (well, last month in blog time, in reality, I made them the same day as we're making the sandwiches, but hey, I'm a busy guy, and blogging takes time).  So this month we're gonna put them to good use and make this simple yet tasty sandwich.  

Reuben Sandwich

First, sprinkle the corned beef with a bit of water, then wrap in foil and place in a 300F oven for about 15 minutes.  

This will steam the beef and release more of its salty, tangy flavor.  Allow about a half to a full pound of beef for each sandwich.  Go with the half if you're feeling light, the full pound (or more) if you want an authentic NY deli bruiser.  Don't go less than a half pound, as it just wouldn't be a Reuben if it didn't have that thick layer of meat.  

While the meat is steaming, slice your rye bread into fairly thick slices.  

Then brush each slice with melted butter.  (these are the sides we'll be grilling)

Flip 'em, then spoon a liberal amount of the Russian dressing on the unbuttered side.  

Remove the corned beef from the oven and unfoil it.  Layer your preferred amount of the beef on top of one of the dressed up bread slices.  

On top of this, layer a liberal amount of sauerkraut.  Try to get a good, fresh variety of kraut, and not the canned sort.  

Next, layer a few slices of the Swiss cheese on.

Admire this massive stack of deli-goodness:

Next, flip one of the other slices of bread, dressing side down, on top of the whole assembly, forming the sandwich.

Place the sandwich on a hot griddle or in a skillet if that's what you prefer, and grill for a few minutes a side until the sandwich browns a bit and the cheese begins to melt.  Sometimes, placing something heavy on the sandwiches like a bacon weight will help them grill up better.  

When the sandwich is finished, slice it in two and and admire that baby's beefy cross-section:

Finally, serve it with some chips, a pickle or two, and perhaps some extra Russian dressing.  Enjoy!

Until next time,