What’s the first thing St. Patrick’s Day makes you think of? In Chicago, perhaps it’s a green river. In New York, maybe it’s green bagels or the rowdy parade down Fifth Avenue. Wherever you live, Irish whiskey or a pint of foamy Guinness almost certainly feature in thoughts of this day. The black beer with the creamy head has become practically synonymous with St. Paddy’s Day celebrations in America, which is fabulous news not just for drinkers but for cooks. Like all stouts, it has a complex flavor that puts lagers to shame, rich with both savory and sweet notes. Cooks can employ it in an impressive range of dishes as a result. Gingerbread is a perfect place for Guinness–not the pallid men that colonize Christmas cookie plates, but the deep, dark cake that sings of molasses and brown sugar. Last year we shared a recipe for a great one with you.
This March we went the savory route, combining a quintessentially Irish stew with a pot pie crust for a hearty dinner that perfectly suits the unseasonably cold month we’re having in Brooklyn. It’s a great weekend meal, but if you’re cooking on a weeknight you can make the pastry and stew ahead of time: the meat takes time, like all good stews, but the pie itself only bakes for 45 minutes. Although you could use pre-made puff pastry, a food processor makes lovely, rustic pastry in a matter of minutes; just leave yourself some time to let it rest in the fridge. Serve with peas or a green salad to remind yourself that spring is around the corner. Green beer optional.
Adapted from The New York Times
For the stew:
4 tablespoons butter, divided in half
2 large red onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
10 mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
3 pounds stew beef, chopped into bite-size pieces (unless you have very sharp knives, ask your butcher to prepare it for you)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 tsp dried rosemary or 1 large sprig fresh rosmary
about 2 cups Guinness or other stout (we used one large can)
4 ounces freshly grated Cheddar
For the pastry:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten with ½ tsp cold water
Unless you’re making the pastry first (in which case, skip down), preheat the oven to 375℉.
In a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with a lid, heat 2 tbsp of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Raise heat to medium heat and add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are dark in color and the moisture they release has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
Season the beef pieces all over with salt and pepper. Raise heat to high and add the beef, flour and rosemary to the pan. Cook over high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add enough Guinness to cover the beef, then cover the pan and put it in the center of the oven for 1½ hours.
Prepare the pastry while stew cooks: sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse until it is the texture of coarse meal. Add ice water, a splash at a time, pulsing until a firm dough forms. Turn the dough out into a pice of plastic wrap, gently form into a disk, then wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Remove stew from the oven after 90 minutes and stir. Cover and return to the oven and cook for 1 more hour. If the stew seems too thin, set the pan over medium-low heat, remove the lid and reduce the liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the grated cheddar cheese.
Pile the stew into an 8-inch-square, 2-inch-high baking dish or a deep 9-inch pie pan. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper use a rolling pin to roll out to about ½ inch thickness (roughly equivalent to a computer mouse pad), round or square depending on your dish. Place the dough on top of the pie and pinch it closed around the edges using the tines of a fork, then slash the center lightly with a knife. Brush with the egg wash, place on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is puffy and golden.