Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shakespeare Should Have Had It So Good

So, my friend C and I have been having these monthly themed dinners and having a blast coming up with the food for them.  This month we honored the food of Britain.  C found an awesome cookbook with recipes dating all the way back to Shakespeare's day.  Very cool.  The whole spread could definitely be termed 'hearty' and was just perfect for the rather grim and drizzly day.  I wish we had photos of everything!  She included some lovely stuffed pears (which Offspring 2 unapologetically demanded from everyone else after finishing her own), a chicken with stewed fruits (I really need to get the actual names of the dishes) and these super tasty meatballs in a broth.  All excellent.  I threw in some lemon curd and ginger biscuits for starters (definitely need to try the curd again when the Meyers are in season), along with a Steak and Guinness Pie, a Bubble and Squeak (gotta love that name) and a Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake.

Now, I will have to say that dates that have been soaked to mushiness aren't exactly my cup of tea, but the toffee sauce was really pretty damn good on ice cream (and the ginger biscuits, come to think of it).  The steak pie turned out pretty well.  I mean, how can you go wrong cooking steak in some beer for a few hours??

Steak and Guinness Pie

1 1/2 lbs. chuck steak, cubed
2 Tbs. AP flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced medium
3 cloves garlic
12 oz. bottle Guinness (I used the extra-stout variety in honour (heh... get it?) of my Brit friends who think us Yanks drink watery, piss-poor beer)
2 Tbs. tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
2 Tbs. chopped capers

1 sheet puff pastry (allow to thaw in fridge according to directions)
3/4 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese (I used white Cheddar... from England)
1 beaten egg mixed with 2 tsp. water

Dredge steak in mixture of flour, salt and pepper.  In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over med-high heat.  Sauté meat in batches (don't overcrowd the pan) until browned.  Remove to another dish until all of the steak has been browned.  Add onion to pan and sauté until starting to soften, then add garlic and stir for another few seconds (don't allow garlic to burn).  Add steak cubes back to pan (along with any juices) and then add the tomato paste, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and capers.  Stir a bit to break up the tomato paste and then add the beer and broth.  Allow to come to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about an hour and a half.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  If there is too much liquid, bring heat back up and allow some of the liquid to cook off (you want some of that yummy sauce in your pie, but you don't want it to be soupy).

Pour meat mixture into casserole dish (mine's about 13" x 9") and allow to cool slightly while putting together top.

Heat oven to 425°.

Roll out puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface until it is big enough to cover your dish with about a 1" overhang.  Using a pastry brush (or your fingers in a pinch) rub egg wash over top edge and down about 1" on the outside of your baking dish.  Cover dish with pastry crust and roll edges under.  Press against dish.  Poke a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape and then brush the entire surface of the crust with more egg wash. 

Place pie in oven and allow to cook for 15 - 20 minutes, or until crust is golden.  Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven.  Reduce temp to 400° and continue to bake until crust is a dark golden brown and cheese melts.

Side note:  I did add peas (or pease) to half of the pie... the half that Offspring 2 and I would not be eating... and it was a perfectly acceptable addition.  If you're into that kind of thing.

Toffee recipe coming up next...

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