Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends!
I have a confession.
I never got the whole St. Patrick's Day thing. I mean, I get it now, but I didn't get it get it. You get me?
This stemmed back as far as I can remember. My Mom was a big advocate of celebrating heritage and making sure we knew where our ancestors came from, but kept a strong emphasis on the fact that we should be equally proud of the country we were born in. I think I took this lesson a bit too literally because I would almost poke fun at friends who said they were English or Italian when they were actually 8th generation Americans. I also never understood those that chose to join into these 'silly' traditions from countries they never lived in. In terms of St. Patrick's Day, I never understood why much of the world decided to bathe themselves in green paraphernalia, drank green beer, and dyed their perfectly-fine-the-way-they-were rivers.
That is until a friend of mine explained something to me quite a few years ago. Sometimes it's not about the why, it's about the why. Confused? Let's see if I can put this into perspective.
Everyone views and sees things differently. That's the beauty of free will and an open mind. As long as no one is getting hurt, why should I care if one chooses to dress up like a leprechaun and drink green beer all day? What does that have to do with me?
That was my A-Ha! moment.
If something like St. Patrick's Day brings people together in unison and harmony, for a lack of a better term and even if only for a day, it should be celebrated. There is enough ugliness in the world without my or anyone's close-minded nonsense. Who was I to poke fun at Erin-Go-Braughless who dressed herself in head-to-toe green while donning a crazy, blinking shamrock antenna headband and enormous shamrock novelty glasses? She was having fun and bringing smiles to so many faces. Good for her. If the world can celebrate the luck of the Irish for a day, it should be good enough for me.
Just like this pie. It's bold, it's hearty, it's delicious, and it's everything a savoury pie should be.
That's where I draw the line.
STEAK AND ALE MUSHROOM PIE
1.5 pounds bottom round beef, trimmed and cut into small chunks
4 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
2 carrots, peeled and roughly cut
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 punnet of button or crimini mushrooms
12 ounces brown or red ale beer
2 teaspoons liquid beef bouillon or 2 beef bouillon cubes
½ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3-4 whole sprigs of fresh thyme
Several pieces of whole fresh parsley, stems included
1 large bay leaf
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 box of ready-made frozen puff pastry, thawed
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, sweat onions and garlic until transparent. Add in mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place a large stewing pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Toss the beef in 2 tablespoons flour and season with salt and pepper. Once the stew pot is hot, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to coat the bottom surface. Add in beef, but only enough so there is room for each piece to properly sear. Shake the pot occasionally and the cubes will come undone as they finish searing. Do not force it as it will tear the meat. Continue to sear remaining pieces of beef. Once completed, remove meat from pot and reduce heat.
In a heat safe container, pour in liquid bouillon and remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Stir. Mix in boiling water and stir until incorporated and dissolved.
In the same pot as you seared beef, add in both liquid bouillon mixture and Worcestershire sauce. Skim the bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze and get all that goodness up that was left over from seared meat.
Toss the meat back into stewing pot along with sweated vegetables. Pour in ale. Give a good stir and add in fresh herbs, submerging them. Remove from heat, cover pot with a lid and place in oven at 325°F for 90 minutes.
Remove from oven, allow to rest and completely cool. Remove thyme sprigs, parsley, and bay leaf and discard. Refrigerate 'stew' overnight for best results. This can certainly be made and eaten the same day, but the flavours will not be as concentrated as they will be the next day. It's worth the wait. I promise.
Once ready to bake, transfer stew mixture into a casserole dish or individual ramekins for single serve. Carefully place thawed puff pastry over top, leaving an inch hang over. Press and seal the pastry to the side of the dish. Apply egg wash if you so desire for shine.
Bake in the oven at 375ºF for 40-45 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown and filling is warmed through.
Remove from oven and allow to rest before cutting.
Whether you're Irish or not, this flavourful Steak and Ale Mushroom Pie will win you over! This pie alone is enough to bring a smile to anyone's face. Thanks, Jenny, for sharing such a comforting recipe worth celebrating!!
Don't forget to follow along with Jenny online at The Brunette Baker, on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!