Monday, August 27, 2012

Masterchef Week - Beef and Guiness Pies

Now that Masterchef Australia is over, and I no doubt will experience some a lot of withdrawal symptoms, I thought I would have a Masterchef inspired week. This year, Masterchef decided to be sneaky and cut all the exciting episodes in half. Majority of the good recipes come from the challenges faced by the top 12. This year, the top 12 was whittled down to a two week time period, with 3 contestants going home each week until the finals at the end of the second week. I was not happy about this announcement. Why not cut the top 24 episodes in half, weed out the extreme amateur cooks over a short space of time and draw out the top 12? This is a question that will no doubt never be answered and one I hope they change in the next season of Masterchef (yes, I’m already thinking of the next season). Anyway, I’m off topic. In one week there were 3 great recipes I had to try – Gary Mehigan’s Beef and Guiness Pies from Masterclass, Pork Lasagne from an Italian group challenge and Chocolate Mousse Tart from a magazine cover challenge (look out this week for other posts). 

I decided to start with the Beef and Guiness Pies because I’d heard a few people rave about how good they were (although it was nice of Masterchef to tell me the day after I cooked them that they had gotten the recipe wrong!).

This is a great recipe to make when you have nothing to do one Sunday afternoon because the meat cooks for about 2 hours. I’ve split the ingredients and recipes into their sections e.g. pie filling, pastry, assembly.

What you will need for the pie filling:
100ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra for greasing
5 Brown Onions, sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, smashed and peeled
4 Sprigs Thyme
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
2 Tablespoons Plain Flour
1.5kg trimmed Chuck Steak, cut into 5cm pieces
Salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
1 Carrot, cut into large chunks
440ml Can Guinness
1 Litre Beef stock
1 Egg, beaten

Pie filling ingredients
Preheat your oven to 180°C fan-forced. 

For the pies, add 40ml olive oil to an enamel or heavy set casserole (think Le Creuset style casserole dishes). 
My heavy set casserole dish
Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook over low heat for 40 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. 
Onions when they first are in
Stir occasionally so the onions don’t stick to the bottom. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the bay leaves and cook until the onion is dark and caramelised. 

Soft and translucent onions with bay leaves
Add the flour and cook stirring often for 3-4 minutes.

Onions with flour
Season the beef generously with salt flakes and ground white pepper. Heat the remaining 60ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat, then cook the beef in 2 batches until well browned on all sides (it’s ok if the beef sticks to the bottom of the pan, this means it’s got good caramelisation). 

Add the carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden. 

Add ¾ of the Guinness and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add Guiness
Tip the beef and Guinness into onion mixture in the casserole dish. 

Transferred into casserole dish
Use remaining Guinness to deglaze the beef pan, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom. Add this to the onions.

Pour beef stock over the beef and vegetables and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2.5 hours or until tender. 

With beef stock
A couple of things to note here: 1) I didn’t wait for anything to come to room temperature or cool completely. It’s up to you if you want to do these steps: Leave to cool to room temperature. Remove the chunks of beef and carrot to a board and chop into 1cm pieces, then return them to the onion gravy. Refrigerate until cold. 2) When I made this recipe there was an error on the Masterchef Australia website, which is why I have too much stock in my pot above. Originally the recipe called for 2 litres of beef stock, not 1 litre. So if yours doesn't look as full as mine, don't worry. In saying that, the mixture still turned out great. 

Getting the filling ready 
When the beef is tender, just test a bit with a fork (the aim is that the beef will be so tender it will basically melt in your mouth), slice the beef into strips and put back into the sauce ready to fill your pastry cups. 

What you will need for Maggie Beer’s Sour-Cream Pastry:
200g chilled Unsalted Butter, chopped
250g Plain Flour, plus extra for dusting
½ Cup Sour Cream
Pastry ingredients
Place the butter and flour and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. 
Butter & Flour
Blend until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Instead, I rubbed my butter into the flour and it had the same effect. 
Half completed pastry
Gradually add the sour cream, mixing until the pastry just comes together. Shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap then chill for at least 20 minutes.

Pie Assembly:

Grease 6 holes of a muffin pan with a little olive oil. Roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thick, using a little extra flour for dusting. 

Rolled out pastry
Cut out six rounds about 4cm bigger than the muffin holes for the pie bases and six rounds 2cm bigger than the muffin holes for the pie lids. 

Pastry cutouts
Place a pie base in each hole, then press in lightly with your fingers, and draw the pastry up the mould a little so the pastry is 1cm above the mould. Fill each hole with some of the beef mixture, brush edges with water, then top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling. I had a little trouble assembling my pies but it’s because I forgot to bring the pastry above the muffin tins so when I put the hot mix in the pastry went a little melted. 

Pies ready for the oven 
Brush the pastry tops with beaten egg, cut a small hole in the centre of each pie for steam to escape. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Beef and Guiness Pies
A few things to note in this recipe: depending on the size of your muffin tins/pies, the pastry will make more than 6 pies; depending on the size of your muffin tins/pies, you will have a lot of mixture left over. Overall, I managed to get 10 pies out of my pastry but had a bucket load of filling left. Next time I will make 2 batches of pastry.

The pies were super yummy and the pastry was flaky and melts in your mouth. Serve with mash and your favourite vegetables. In my opinion, you really don’t need tomato sauce with these pies, there’s enough flavour in the filling and pastry.

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