It's no secret I love Jamie Oliver - I love his carefree, often haphazard cooking style, and I love even more than he's getting MORE to the basics cooking with stuff he's growing at his own home! (Actually, I admit I'm a little disappointed, because a gardener is actually credited on his new show, Jamie at Home...)
I don't know how Jamie would have the time to do all the gardening AND his career as a chef, write cookbooks, teach kids, etc...so I forgive him. 'Sides, if he was doing more gardening, he might not have time to film the Jamie at Home TV show to go with the book - it's on Food Network sometime around noon on Saturday's - watch for it!
We were watching the pastry episode the other day, and he cooked up a steak, guinness and cheese pie with a puff pastry lid. We were both DROOOOOLING the whole time. Brett said I should make it! I grabbed my BRITISH RELEASE copy of Jamie at Home (since I don't believe they've sold it here in the US yet? I had to get it through amazon.co.uk awhile back) - confirmed the recipe was in the book, and within days we were cooking up a tasty meal!
First you slice 3 medium red onions (I used one LARGE red onion and one LARGE white onion), and sweat them in a pan with some oil and butter - his intention is to just get them transluscent and develop some flavors without really trying to carmelize them. (Oops, mine got a little browned, but hey, that's just flavor!)
Then you crank the heat up and add 3 chopped cloves of garlic, chopped carrots (I used five SKINNY carrots, he calls for 2), chopped celery (I used three), "4 field mushrooms" (I roughly chopped a large container of baby bellas, "1 kg brisket of beef" (just under two pounds of pre-cubed stew beef worked fine), a few sprigs of rosemary (picked and chopped), a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. All of this went in the dutch oven and was fried up a few minutes - he didn't really aim for color or browning here.
Stir in 2 heaped tablespoons of flour. (This goes against what I've always thought you did in these situations - usually working the flour in a bit sooner, like tossed with the meat - to get some browning flavor, and be less likely to avoid clumping. Jamie's method worked just find)
He calls for a 440ml can of Guinness - as you'll see in the picture below I could only find bottles - so one of those went in (bet I could've used two!) To that add enough water to come just short of covering all the goodies being cooked in the pot. Bring this all to a boil, cover, and put in a preheated oven (375F) for 1 1/2 hrs. (Oh - I added potatoes, and Mary and I were discussing how so many other stew-ingredients could go in as well, such as parsnips)
Remove the pan from the oven, stir, return to oven and bake covered for another hour. This is IMPORTANT to plan how early you're going to cook this dish! I missed it in my initial read of the recipe, and we had the pie around 9pm for a late dinner!
If you find the stew isn't very thick, cook it a little longer on the stove top - you don't want this too runny/wet!
Mmmm....doesn't that look good? You know how you make it better? Jamie then has you stir in 100g (um, two big handfuls!) of shredded cheddar cheese. I'd recommend a robust/sharp cheese - the beef and Guinness aren't shy flavors!
After you've stirred that cheese in briefly (and done a bunch of taste testing and mmmming and ahhhhing), prepare your puff pastry crust. Where Jamie lives, he gets a block of it (500g). Here in the US, we buy one of those long packages of Pepperidge Farms puff pastry, from the freezer section, usually by the frozen fruits and frozen pies. (Don't accidentally get the frozen phylo dough, which is also right there). If you're doing like I did, and using the Pepperidge Farms stuff, take it out of the freezer about an hour in advance, open it, separate the two folded up pieces of pastry, put them on something like a cookie tray (don't unfold them yet!), cover with a little plastic wrap so they don't dry out, and let them thaw. Mine were still quite chilly after an hour, but definitely easy to work with.
When opening up the folded pastry, expect it to crack on the folds - it always has for me. Unfold, place on a large flat, lightly floured surface, and roll it out big enough for your large pie pan or casserole dish with a rolling pin, using enough flour so it doesn't stick. This is a great time to repair any breaks in the pastry from unfolding.
Here I've rolled out the bottom crust and put it in my biggest deep dish pie.
And then we filled it (and had leftover stew that wouldn't fit!), and sprinkled on two more large handfuls of cheddar, per Jamie's instructions. I do wish I would've gotten a pale and reallllly sharp cheddar, one with more bite, and perhaps a touch of a mustardy flavor, but eh, we used your standard Sharp Cheddar block from the grocery store.
Careful, don't burn your fingers as you're picking out bits of stew-covered cheese to taste test. (Um, this wasn't something Jamie said to do - we came up with that one on our own! Quality control, ya know!?)
You want to make an egg wash (mix one egg and about a tablespoon of water - and no, don't measure that water!) and brush/smear it on the inside top edge of the crust. I did it before pouring in the stew and cheese - made life easier!
Mmmm - looking good! That egg wash is going to act like glue. Roll out the other half/sheet of the puff pastry, making it a bit bigger than the top of the pie. Don't aim to have as little extra dough overhanging as you can (like you might normally do) - you want some extra here!
And then Jamie says to criss cross the top of the dough lightly with a very sharp knife. WOW this REALLY makes it! It's ok if you cut through here and there - just quickly drag your very sharp knife across... Place the cross hatched dough on top of the filled pie, pat it down around the egg-washed edges lightly, and then fold all that overhanging extra crust from both the top and bottom doughs, bringing it up on top and getting a nice, rustic look. Sure, it seems to weight itself down and just look like a floppy mess. DO NOT PANIC!
This recipe didn't suggest cutting some steam holes in the top crust. I think you'll be doing that by accident with the criss-crossing of the knife anyhow. Brush the top (or just smear with your clean fingers if you don't have a pastry brush) with egg wash, pop it in the 375F oven (I put it on a sheet pan "JUST IN CASE" anything bubbled out), and bake it for 45 minutes - until it's puffed and golden.
It may not look like much (thick wet canvas if you ask me), but that puff pastry is really layer after layer after layer of dough folded over with bits of butter smashed between the layer. SUPER THIN layers! When your puff pastry hits the high heat of the oven, the heat causes the butter to melt and give off steam. That steam lifts up the space between the layers of pastry, cooking as it does so, resulting in that wonderful puffy, crispy, crunchy, fun to eat crust!
Check this out - after it comes out of the oven! Talk about airy and crisp!
I'd say let it sit for maybe 10-15 minutes - just so the insides can cool and congeal just a bit. Even with a wait, you'll see the insides pour into the cut space some. That's ok - still tastes great! Sure, the name is "Steak and Guinness Pie with Puff Pastry Crust" - but that's too damn wordy. We know we'll be making "meat pie" again in the near future (and may actually try halving the recipe - it really makes a lot for just the two of us!
Some additional notes:
I gave Mary the recipe, and she made the filling in her crockpot two days before she could make the entire pie. The filling turned out great! However, her country-store-purchased puff pastry didn't puff at all - instead it stayed doughy and raw in the middle. After we talked a bit, I think it's because she put the top crust on the COLD stew. Even with putting it in a hot oven, that crust is still sitting on cold stuff, and probably didn't get that heat-shock it needs to cook and puff the pastry. If you're going to make the stew in advance, DEFINITELY reheat it before pouring into the dish.
I was nervous about using a really dark beer, but went for it. Only I didn't get a very dark Guinness - apparently there's different options. Mine was muddy brown and in a beer bottle with a plastic "rocket" rattling around inside - to improve the head when you pour it maybe? Mary brought me a bottle of the beer she used - and extra stout/dark Guinness. She also brought me some of the stew to try. It was definitely more rich with a touch of a tang from the beer? (Oh, and she used 1 1/2 beers - Jim drank the rest to "help her out"). I'd be curios to try it with half what I used and half extra dark like she used. Her stew was VERY good (and minus the crust)...so I definitely won't be afraid of using the bolder Guinness in the future.
Be forewarned - that crust isn't going to stay super crispy after it's been in the fridge - just accept that, or make a smaller batch - just what you can eat the first nite. Or have friends over the first night to eat the whole thing! ;-) Who wouldn't love beer and beef in a pie!?
Or, screw the pie aspect of it and just make a really kick-ass stew!
I hope you guys give "meat pie" a try - it was a great recipe.