I made these pies in the depths of winter this year and whilst savoury meat pies are something I usually crave in the colder months, these beef and Guinness pies are so good I could eat them in any season. The recipe is from Gary Mehigan of Australian Masterchef and the filling is utterly delicious, so much nicer than anything store-bought. The pie is surrounded by one of my favourite pastries – Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry which I used in this beef and red wine pie. Pies with meat fillings can be time consuming (but not difficult) to make due to the long braising time required for the meat to become tender, but the results are well worth the effort and they freeze well. It’s the sort of satisfying cooking project that’s prefect for the weekend.
Ingredients – makes 6 individual pies Adapted from Gary Mehigan
100ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
5 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
4 sprigs thyme
3 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons plain flour
1.5 kg trimmed chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 carrots, cut into large chunks – if you cut them too small they will disintegrate during the long braising time
440ml can Guinness
4 cups best quality beef stock
1 egg, beaten
Tomato sauce, to serve
Maggie Beer’s Sour-Cream Pastry: Note – if your pie dishes are on the larger side you may want to make 1.5 times this recipe to ensure you have enough pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). For the pies, add 40ml olive oil (I found I needed to use more than this) to an enamelled cast-iron casserole, then add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook over low heat (use a simmer mat, if necessary) for 40 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium-high, add bay leaves and cook until the onion is dark and caramelised. Add the flour and cook stirring often for 3-4 minutes.
Season the beef generously with salt and ground pepper. Heat remaining 60ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat, then cook the beef in 2 batches until well browned on all sides. Remove and add to the onions. Add the carrots to the frypan and cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden. Add ¾ of the Guinness and cook for 5 minutes. Tip the carrots and Guinness into onions and beef. Use remaining Guinness in can to deglaze the beef pan, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom, add to the onions.
Pour enough beef stock to cover the beef and vegetables and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2.5 hours or until tender. Leave to cool to room temperature. Remove the chunks of beef and carrot to a board and chop into 1cm pieces, then return them to the onion gravy. Refrigerate until cold.
Meanwhile, to make the sour cream pastry, place the butter and flour and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle or food processor, then blend until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Gradually add the sour cream, mixing until the pastry just comes together. Shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap then chill for at least 20 minutes.
Grease 6 small pie tins with a little olive oil. Roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thick, using a little extra flour for dusting. Cut out six rounds about 5cm bigger than the pie tin bases and six rounds 2cm bigger than the pie tin tops for the lids. Place a pie base pastry in each hole, then press in lightly with your fingers, and draw the pastry up the mould a little so the pastry is 1cm above the mould. Fill each hole with some of the beef mixture, brush edges with water, then top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling.
Brush the pastry tops with beaten egg, cut a small hole in the centre of each pie for steam to escape. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Turn out and serve with tomato sauce, if desired.