a british meat pie

I wanted to spend the next few weeks focusing on quick, flavorful recipes that would support, rather than undermine, the gym-going habit I am desperately trying to cultivate. Then I realized that February — and winter — are nearly over. So I made this instead.

This recipe prominently features beef and beer and puff pastry and most of a block of Cheddar cheese. It is far too ambitious for daily use, takes about six hours to make, and is the opposite of light and healthy. But I first saw this recipe on the Food Network more than a year and a half ago, and I wasn’t going to let another winter go by without trying it. (No matter how mild this DC winter has been, it’s better than serving it in July.)

This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s British website. A couple of things were lost in translation: red onions must be quite a bit smaller in England, since the original recipe called for three (!). I also didn’t realize that “field mushrooms” were portobello mushrooms. But the biggest error was all me: I read right past the point in the directions where you cook the filling for an hour and a half… and then put it back in for another 60 minutes.

So it was a very, very late dinner, served with white wine because I didn’t have a more hearty stew-appropriate beverage. But it was delicious — so tasty I kept licking the spoon as I scooped it into the serving dish. And usually I only do that with cake batter.

Meat, Cheese & Guinness Pie

Adapted (oh-so-slightly) and converted from the metric, via Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home.

Olive oil
2 large red onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
4 portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 lbs. beef brisket or stew beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 tablespoon butter (plus more for greasing dish)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle Guinness or other dark stout
2 heaping tablespoons flour
8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
1 package frozen puff pastry
1 beaten egg

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a Dutch oven, heat a glug of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onions are softened but not brown. (It will seem like a lot of onions. Don’t worry, it all works out in the end.) Turn the heat to medium-high and add the butter, carrots, celery, garlic and mushrooms. Stir together and allow to cook for a minute. Add the beef and rosemary and season with a pinch of salt and about 10 grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring, for three to four minutes.

Pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add a quarter-cup or half-cup of water to cover the meat if necessary. (You want the stew to be thick, so don’t worry if it’s not completely covered.) Put a lid on the pot and put it in the oven. Cook for an hour and a half; remove the pot, stir the stew (scraping up the browned bits from the bottom and sides) and cook for another hour. While it’s cooking, grate the cheese.

Roll out the puff pastry a bit thinner if necessary to cover a 9-inch baking dish. After the filling has cooked for at least two and a half hours, remove from the oven; reduce on the stove if necessary. You want it thick, not like a stew. Stir in half of the cheese.

Put the puff pastry in the greased baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the bottom. Pour in the filling and seal the pie. Brush the top lightly with beaten egg and return to the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the crust is puffy and golden.

Serve with more stout.

Eat while doing something veddy British, like crying over the Downton Abbey season finale. (Don’t judge.)