Now I have to admit I don't eat all that much beef but I do love a good pie, especially a hearty pie, with chunks of beef and bacon in a full-bodied gravy.
I guess you could call this a deconstructed pie because this pie doesn't have any pastry on the bottom, instead it has these awesome cheesy, herby, pastry twists on top that not only look impressive but taste so good!
Today's recipe is adapted from Taste.com.au, please visit their website and search "Slow-Cooked Smoky Beef with Cheesy Herb Twists" if you'd like to see where I got my inspiration from. I dabbled with the quantities and a few of the ingredients because I find myself always wanting stronger flavors so I made some additions including adding capsicum and chilli powder and also opted for a cheddar cheese spread in the twists just because I want to see how it would work. I also didn't have any "pale ale" on hand so simple beer had to do as did the puff pastry sheets in place of "Careme puff pastry". I also added a little soy sauce to the gravy as I just feel it creates a greater depth of flavor.
The pastry twists on top are striking and are a piece of cake to create and you could even make the twists on their own and serve as an appetizer or snack with sauce or dip. The picture below is how the pie looks before the bake. I love this rustic look and we all know that "rustic" is always in. Let me assure you as far as pies go - this one is a winner!
Ensure that you are happy with the seasoning and flavor of the meat before you bake it with the pastry on top
If you feel at any point that your gravy might be evaporating too much just add a little more beef stock to keep the mixture moist (but not runny) and to avoid a dry pie. I didn't have this problem but I did keep an eye on the level of the gravy as I was cooking it.
If you feel the gravy is evaporating too fast, you can also just keep your lid fully closed as it is simmering. I barely had the lid open to keep most of moisture in and I also ensured that once it was simmering away nicely that I put the pot on one of the smaller burners to get the perfect simmer.
If you don't eat beef, try this recipe with lamb - it will work just as well
YOU WILL NEED
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
1.2 kg | 2.5 pounds chuck steak, excess fat removed and cut into about 2.5cm/ 1 inch chunks
150g | 5 ounces hickory smoked bacon (regular bacon will also do)
1 onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves finely chopped, minced or crushed
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoons chilli powder
3/4 cup beef stock
3/4 cup beer
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
Fresh rosemary about 2 x 8cm | 3 inches pieces, finely chopped (stalks removed)
200g | 7 ounces mushroom sliced/roughly chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper
Cheese Pastry Puffs
4 sheets puff pastry
10 tablespoons cheddar cheese spread (I used the Kraft cheddar cheese spread you buy on the shelf) OR 1 cup grated cheese
4 chives finely chopped
5 tablespoons continental parsley finely chopped
1 egg lightly beaten
Chili flakes (optional)
In a large saucepan/pot add 1 tablespoon oil and in batches, over medium-high heat, cook beef until brown ( a little char on the meat adds to the flavor but do not burn). Cook batches in even layers in the pan and do not overfill. Once cooked, empty into a large bowl and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan and over medium-high heat add the onions, bacon and capsicum and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions, capsicum and garlic are soft and the bacon is fragrant.
Add the smoked paprika, chilli powder, beef stock, beer, tomato paste, soy sauce and chopped rosemary and stir through and bring to the boil.
Add the beef back to the saucepan, partially cover with a lid so that a small amount of steam can vent out and simmer for 1 hour.
After one hour add the sliced mushrooms, stir through and simmer for a further 40 minutes, partially covered or until the meat is tender.
Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.
Place your meat mixture into a 25cm/10 inch round baking dish, and add a little freshly cracked black pepper over the top and set aside.
Place one pastry sheet on a board, add evenly spread half the cheese spread and evenly sprinkle half the chives and half the parsley over the sheet. Sandwich with another pastry sheet on top. Slice the pastry into 8 evenly spaced slices from top to bottom, then twist each slice multiple times and then coil into a spiral circle and place on top of the meat mixture. Continue placing the twisted and coiled pastry evenly over your meat mixture until they are all used and repeat the process with the remaining pastry, cheese and herbs.
Brush the pastry with the lightly beaten egg and sprinkle some chilli flakes if desired.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with your favorite salad or veggies, potato mash or chips and enjoy!