The trouble with writing about the things you eat is remembering to take a photo of said thing. Often in restaurants, criminal damage has occurred to the contents of the plate before you remember to take out your camera and record the moment for posterity, at home my phone or camera will be in a different room and the plaintive wails of David complaining of hunger don’t allow for time dallying with photography. On top of this, people with beautiful blogs sit at home, setting up beautiful shoots with antique spoons and hessian tablecloths and then they take the photo during daylight hours. Any self-respecting bloggist knows that you should photograph food during daylight hours but when your kitchen is in a basement to begin with and there’s 4 daylight hours in a day, these things don’t always come to pass. The photos on my blog are the bits that make me truly sad but I’m at a loss to know what to do. I can’t really portion up a small amount, save it in the freezer until Saturday when I would spend the day beating myself up for not owning enough antique spoons. Every new year, I have a resolution that the photography will improve on my blog and I have a wonderful camera so it should. So here is my promise to you, better photos are coming.
All of this, of course, leads up to an admission of guilt. I forgot to take a photo of this meal. I forgot because it was so bloody good, I just wanted to rub my face in it. I toyed with fobbing you all off with a picture of some random puff pastry I found online but I know you’re all too brilliant for that so I have stolen the photo from a famous chef who’s original recipe this was based on. He’ll never know and I can give you brilliant photography so you love me a little more. I might also find some other photos just to keep you on your toes.
This recipe is DELICIOUS. So delicious, I think you could cook this for a boy and he would marry you. Or a girl, if you like. David announced this was his favourite of all the pies I make, I am the queen of pies so this is high praise indeed. The steak needs to be in nice big chunks so it doesn’t shrivel and die during cooking. I think the most disappointing things with stews is when you don’t have big enough chunks of meat. I used Stilton to make this, I think the original called for cheddar and you could use anything big and flavourful. I love blue cheese and steak so I think it’s a natural pairing. The Guinness is practically a health food, containing enough iron to keep a family alive for a year, this makes this pie even better and almost virtuous. Most importantly, a thick casing of puff pastry seals everything into a puffy, crispy cloud.
Make this, I beseech you, eat it with peas and celebrate all that is thick and hearty and warming when the snow falls and you have a cold nose.
Steak, Guinness and Stilton Pie
serves about 4-6
- olive oil
- 3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
- 4 field mushrooms, peeled and sliced
- 1 kg quality beef rump or stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes
- a few sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 440 ml Guinness (a bottle of Guinness is about the right size)
- 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
- 150 g stilton cheese, crumbled
- 170 g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 190C. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes, turn up the heat and add the garlic, carrots and celery and mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper.
- Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid or foil and place in the preheated oven for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook it for another hour, or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick. The sauce wants to be thick and sticky by this point so if too wet, reduce in a pan on the hob.
- Remove from the heat and stir the cheese, then season carefully and leave to cool slightly.
- Tip the stew into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry in a thin sheet and top the pie. Brush the top with beaten egg, then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked.