Comfort Food for All Seasons
Or, as a friend put it “Comfort food has no season.” So while the August sun was blazing last Sunday, I was in the kitchen braising beef for son 1’s ultimate fave: meat pie. Hot and happy!
Hard as it is; important to be patient when braising. And not to crowd the pan.
Make sure the colour is a nice dark brown, then leave it a bit longer to really extract the flavour. The pot will be hard to scrub afterwards, but it’s worth it!
Deglace the pot with water, scraping all the good bits off the bottom to infuse the pan juice.
Once the vegetables have sautéed for a while, turn up the heat and add the beer.
Ready for the oven, pan juices added.
This is what the stew looks like after half an hour in the oven. Smells pretty good, too.
Close-up of the finished pie; easy puff pastry lid, no need to be fancy.
- 2 lbs/1 kg beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
- about 3 cups/750 ml water
- 1 can beer (Guinness works really well, this time we used a light lager)
- 3 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 celery root, chopped
- 5 carrots, chopped
- handful of grated cheddar cheese
- 1 package puff pastry
This ingredient list is only a guide, use amounts to your liking.
Toss the beef cubes to coat with flour, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Be generous with the spices!
Melt butter in a heavy duty/cast iron pot (no wood handles, it must be oven proof) over high heat and braise the beef in batches, deglazing the pot with water each time and reserving the pan juices. Set beef and juices aside.
Set the oven to 375F.
Reduce the heat to medium, melt butter and sauté onions and garlic until soft, then add celery root and carrots. Let simmer for a few minutes and add the braised beef.
Turn the heat back up, add the beer, then the pan juices once the beer has reached boiling point.
Put the pot in the lower third of the oven, let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour with the lid on, then for another 30-45 minutes with the lid off.
If you’re planning to serve it the same night, increase the no lid cooking time. If you have the time, though, it’s best to let the stew mellow overnight, then skim off some of the fat before reheating the next day.
Ladle the stew in one or two oven-proof dishes, sprinkle with some cheese, if desired.
Roll out the puff pastry and place over the stew, crimping the ends over the dish. Using a sharp knife, score the pastry to let steam escape. Brush with an eggwash for a shiny finish if you like.
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.
Serve with steamed peas and a dollop of butter.