Steak, Guinness and cheese pie with a puff pastry lid
• olive oil
• 3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
• 30g butter, plus extra for greasing
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
• 4 field mushrooms, peeled and sliced
• 1kg brisket of beef or stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 x 440ml can of Guinness (no lager, please!)
• 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
• 200g freshly grated Cheddar cheese
• 500g best-quality ready-made all-butter puff pastry
• 1 large free-range or organic egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes – try not to colour them too much. Turn the heat up, add the garlic, butter, carrots and celery and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper.
Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back into the oven and continue to cook it for another hour, or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick. A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob and reduce until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, then season carefully and leave to cool slightly.
Cut about a third of the pastry off the block. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll both pieces of pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of a pound coin. Butter a deep pie dish, then line with the larger sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the side. Tip the stew into your lined dish and even it out before sprinkling over the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.
Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross it lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic. Brush the top with beaten egg, then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden. Delicious served simply with peas.