It’s frosty this evening. Still, cold and soaked with winter rain. I’m sitting on the couch, tightly wrapped in a furry blue blanket. Despite just finishing dinner, I’m dreaming of food.
You may know by now that that’s not unusual. As a food blogger/recipe developer/carbohydrate and dairy obsessive, I think about food for at least 90% of my waking hours. Heck, sometimes I even dream about food. It’s rather good because… well, effectively I get to eat twice as much.
Anyway, I digress. Tonight, I’m dreaming of one thing in particular: beef and Guinness hand pies. These gems were fashioned last weekend in partnership with my beautiful friend Erin who, for the record, makes the very best apple caramel cheesecake that I have ever tasted (I still need to steal her recipe). We drank tea, chatted, made spiced pumpkin soup and rolled pastry in clouds of flour. A few hours later, we ate glorious pockets of beef and gravy by the fireside in the best of company.
It was blissful, in every sense of the word.
It’s now been six days since I ate those golden hand pies. Six long and arduous days, most of which were spent sitting in my shoebox office with dishwater coffee and a pile of paperwork. Between phone calls and assessments, I found my mind drifting towards crisp golden pastry, nuggets of tender beef and rich Guinness gravy. And pulled pork rolls, tacos and flax macarons but… well, mostly beef and gravy (see? all.the.time).
These little pies are easy on both the eyes and the stomach. Erin and I stole the bones of the recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook, though as per usual it’s been considerably tweaked. The pies themselves can be assembled in a flash; the only involved component is making the filling (and the pastry, if you’re that way inclined). Both elements can be prepared the day before, chilled overnight and assembled in minutes before cooking.
If you can, eat these by the fireside. With a chaser of peat-bog whisky. Winter food at its best.
Makes 24 snack-sized pies
- 500g beef skirt or chuck steak, finely diced
- 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 440ml can Guinness stout (we actually added an entire 750ml bottle and cooked it down for aaaages; do as you like! *substitute another stout if desired)
- 1 cup (250ml) organic beef stock
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 350g homemade shortcrust pastry (or 3 sheets ready-rolled)
- 350g homemade rough puff (or 3 sheets ready-rolled)
- 1 free-range egg, beaten lightly
Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add beef and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add in the flour, stirring until the mixture bubbles and is well browned.
Gradually add in the stout and stock, stirring until the gravy boils and thickens. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover and check for seasoning – add salt and pepper if necessary. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for another hour or until the gravy has reduced and thickened (it should appear thick and glossy; add a little cornflour slurry or cook for longer if required). Allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (430 degrees f) until hot. Lightly grease 2 x 12 hole standard (1/4 – 1/3 cup capacity) muffin pans. Using a 10cm upturned bowl or pastry cutter, cut 24 rounds from the shortcrust pastry sheets. Using an 8cm upturned bowl or pastry cutter, cut 24 rounds from the remaining puff pastry.
Place one round of shortcrust pastry into each of the muffin holes, pressing lightly with your fingers to fit. Divide the beef filling between each pastry case (about 1 heaped tbsp each) and brush the edges with egg. Top with the rounds of puff pastry, pressing with your fingers to ensure that the edges are sealed. Brush with the remaining egg, then make a small slit in the top of each pie with a sharp knife.
Bake pies for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden. Stand for 5 minutes in the pans before serving hot, with or without tomato sauce.
Note: Cooked pies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months (though I doubt that they’ll last that long)