Serves 4 to 6
2 to 2 1/2 pounds of beef, such as chuck roast, or a mixture of chuck roast, bottom round and beef short ribs, excess fat removed and cut into chunks approximately 1 1/2” to 2”
1/4 pound of pancetta cut into cubes, you can substitute bacon
1 12 oz bottle New Castle Brown Ale or ale of your choice
4 cups of beef stock, homemade or low sodium, you may not need all of the stock
3 medium onions, peeled and diced
4 medium carrots, peeled, cleaned and cut into 1” pieces
2 stalks of celery, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 pound of cremini, shiitake or similar mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
stems from a bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
6 stems of fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped
6 stems of fresh sage, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, or to taste, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste unsalted butter extra-virgin olive oil sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
all purpose flour for rolling dough
several sprigs of sage and several sliced mushrooms for decoration
1 large egg beaten with a tbsp of milk or water for egg wash
Season the beef well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, sprinkle with several tbsp of flour and toss until coated.
Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or casserole over medium heat and fry the meat until it is caramelized on all sides. It is important to avoid crowding the meat, so you will probably need to do this in batches. When there is a dark brown color on all sides, about 10 minutes, remove the meat from the pan and set aside. When all of the meat has been cooked, add a splash of the ale or water to the pan and scrape up all of the brown bits. Add the liquid and brown bits to the meat.
Next add the pancetta to the pan, over medium heat,with a bit more olive oil and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook for about 2 minutes, add the carrots and celery, mix to combine and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for several minutes until they start to give up some liquid and the onions are soft and starting to caramelize. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally Add the sliced garlic, fresh herbs and bay leaves, then stir to combine. Continue to cook for another minute. Slowly add the New Castle Brown Ale, and allow it to reduce a bit before adding the stock, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and enough of the stock to cover the beef. This will help prevent the meat from drying out. Bring the stock to a boil, stir well, then reduce to a simmer. (Add additional stock, if needed as the beef cooks.)
Cover with a lid and continue to cook until the beef is almost tender and the sauce is thickened and flavorful,about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.
At this point you can either proceed with the pie or allow it to cool a bit, and refrigerate it overnight. The final flavor will improve if you keep it overnight.
If the stew is too liquid, leave on the stove over medium heat for several minutes with the top off until it thickens up. If you are leaving it overnight, you can do this the next day when you reheat the stew.
Preheat the oven to 400oF.
If you are using sliced mushrooms to decorate the top of the pie, you can lightly sauté them in some butter or olive oil for several minutes until they just start to develop some color. Remove from the pan and let cool.
Next place the beef, mushrooms, vegetables and sauce into your pie dish. (see note below for free standing pie) It is important to fill up the pie dish with the beef and other ingredients to make sure that the pastry lid does not sink in when you put it on.
Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry so it will cover your pie dish. Brush the edge of the pie dish with the beaten egg to help the pastry stick. Place the pastry lid on the dish and press down gently with the back of a fork to seal. Trim the excess pastry of the edge of the dish and brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg and a tablespoon of milk or water. Avoid the edges of the pastry with the egg wash as it may prevent the puff pastry from rising
Cut several small slits in the top of the pie to release the steam. You can also decorate the top with leaves using any excess puff pastry or add sliced mushrooms sautéed for a few minutes in a some butter and a few sprigs of fresh sage or other herbs used in the pie. Chill the pie in the refrigerator until the pastry is firm, about 10 minutes.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the puff pastry is golden brown and puffed all over, about 30 to 40 minutes.
You can also make a raised pie with a double crust using a pie mold such as this one found on Etsy. Molds like this can be difficult to locate and are rather expensive. But you can also use a tart mold, such as in this chicken and mushroom pie inspired by Maggie Beer or a springform mold, or even a loaf pan or a ramekin.
You only need to roll out 2 sheets of puff pastry or short crust pastry and cut 2 circles. The first one should be large enough to line the bottom and sides of the pan and the second slightly larger than the top of the pan. The mold and the top should be refrigerated until the dough is firm, about 10 minutes. The mold should then removed from the refrigerator and filled with the beef and ale mixture. Next place the top on the pie, crimp, seal and proceed as described above.