Archive for the ‘beef’ Category

guinness pie

One of the pages I always look forward to reading in the New York Times magazine regales on the subject of food. Surprise, surprise. The two-page articles sometimes involve the origins and evolution of certain dishes, recollections on memories of food, storytelling using food as a backdrop, or in the article that I refer to in this post — a way to cheat on a recipe.

Although I have been, on a countless number of occasions, fascinated by the recipes accompanying the articles, I had never felt the impetus to recreate one of them until I came across last week’s article on beef and stout pie. It may have been the rain inspiring a need for comfort food, or because it made me think of our friends in London, who I think by now know a thing or two about savory pies.

The story starts with Fergus Henderson, chef of renowned London restaurant St. John, giving the writer his take on what makes a good meat pie: it must be large, it must be made using a jellied pig’s feet stock (trotter gear), and it must have a great crust. The writer then suggests that, “if trotters are hard to find,” (or in my interpretation, if you would like to save yourself more than three hours of stove duty) one could use cheddar cheese in place of the trotter gear. As he points out, one of chef Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks has a recipe for meat and cheese pie, minus the trotters. So why not cheat a little? Normally, I would jump at the opportunity to cheat on labor-intensive recipes such as this one. But given the description of what the trotter gear lends to the meat pie — intensity in flavor and “lip-sticking” effects due to the collagen — I couldn’t cheat this time. I wanted the most out of my pie.

I found that Central Market sells frozen trotters in packs of three, cleaned and split into halves. I have to admit, they’re not very pretty to look at, but they are what they are. Pigs do have feet, after all. I took the time to make the trotter gear a couple of days before I made the Guinness pie, setting aside one cup of it for the recipe and freezing the rest to use in other soups or stews in the future.

In the end, I was so glad that I chose to invest three hours of my day making the trotter gear. Mixed in with the rosemary-scented Guinness stew, it coated the tender morsels of beef and vegetables with richness. This indeed created a “lip-sticking” and intensely flavorful pie, which was finished with a top of buttery, flaky crust.


Trotter Gear (adapted from here)

2 sweet yellow onions, halved
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 head garlic
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup Madeira or other sweet wine, or one bottle red wine (I used the remnants of some white and red wine)
About 1 quart chicken stock

1. Place everything but the liquids in a large pot. Pour in the wine and enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 hours, until the meat falls off the bone and, in Henderson’s words, the trotters are “very wobbly.”
2. Remove the trotters from the pot. (I did not strain the stock as was suggested here. Why get rid of the goodies if they’re going into a pie with similar flavors?) Pluck the meat, flesh and skin from the bones and chop. (There are a lot of bones.) Discard the bones. Stir the meat, flesh and skin back into the stock. Makes about 6 cups. Adapted from Fergus Henderson.

IMG_9246trotter gear

Guinness Pie (adapted from here)

For the stew:
4 tbsp butter
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
10 mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2.5 lb stew meat, chopped into bite-size pieces
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp dried rosemary
2 cups Guinness or other stout (one 16 oz can), plus 1 cup water
1 cup trotter gear or 8 ounces freshly grated Cheddar (I used trotter gear, obviously)

For the pastry:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
4 tbsp ice-cold water (you may need more or less; this was my approximation, as it was not stated in the recipe)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large, ovenproof pan fitted with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are dark in color and the moisture released by them has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
4. Season the beef pieces all over with salt and pepper. Add the beef, flour and rosemary to the pan and cook over high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
5. Add enough Guinness/water to just cover the beef. Cover the pan and put it in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and stir. If using trotter gear, stir it in now. Return to the oven and cook for 1 hour more. If it remains thin, set the pan over medium-low heat, remove the lid and reduce the liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using Cheddar, fold in about half.
6. While the stew is cooking, prepare the pastry: sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, quickly work the butter into the dough until it is the texture of coarse meal. Add ice water, a splash at a time, until a firm dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
7. Let dough warm to room temperature. Place the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, roll to the thickness of a computer mouse pad. Pour the stew into an 8-inch-square, 2-inch-high Pyrex dish or a deep 9-inch pie pan. If using Cheddar, scatter the remaining cheese across the top. 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 yolk, place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is puffy and golden.

Serves 6. The stew was adapted from Jamie Oliver; the pastry was adapted from Fergus Henderson.
guinness beef pie


Read Full Post »

I crave spaghetti with marinara all the time. Even though it’s probably the go-to staple food for any college kid, it’s like comfort food to me. I love how it is so easy to make, and I love it especially with meatballs. I saw this recipe for meatballs in the New York Times awhile back and knew that I had to make my own. I sort of grew up on Costco meatballs, so this is a relatively new thing for me. Oh, the pleasure that the homemade meatball brings! These meatballs are nothing like frozen meatballs — they are not over-seasoned or fried to achieve a spherical shape.



2 pounds ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil.

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except olive oil by hand, using a light touch. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter.

2. In a large, heavy pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add meatballs in batches. Do not crowd. Brown well on bottoms before turning, or meatballs will break apart. Continue cooking until browned all over. Remove meatballs to a plate as each batch is finished. Let meatballs cool slightly; cover and refrigerate until needed.
Yield: About 16 meatballs.


It doesn’t get any easier than this. For the sauce, I simply opened up a can of Trader Joe’s plum tomatoes with basil, diced the tomatoes, and threw the contents of the entire can in with the meatballs. The meatballs were pan-fried long enough until they were mostly cooked through; the rest of the cooking was done as the meatballs simmered in the tomatoes. To the tomato sauce I added some salt and pepper, and some sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.


Read Full Post »