What lies beneath
Hiding under the pastry of this beef pie are soft, salty oysters – it’s an Irish tradition you’ll be keen to adopt.
BEEF, OYSTER AND STOUT PIE
Prep time: 30 mins / Cook time: 3 hours Serves: 4-6
The first chef I ever worked under had come from the famed Ballymaloe House in Ireland. I recall an Irish dinner where, apart from experiencing my first Guinness hangover (a hideous thing), I got to play around with things like Carrageen moss and make Irish soda bread and such. This pie was a standout.
I’d never had beef and oyster in the same mouthful, and in spite of my initial 17-year-old scepticism, I was smitten. The oysters add a beautiful, soft saltiness to the sweet, mellow beef. Big call to make, but I think this may be my favourite pie of all time.
I’m deliberately vague about the number of oysters to add, as I think it comes down to preference. In any case, use fresh ones in a pottle, as the liquor that they come in will help to flavour the pie wonderfully. Preferably go for Bluffies, though Pacific will do.
You may use whatever kind of beer you like for this dish; preferably something nice and dark – I used Garage Project’s Aro Noir like the good patriot that I am, but you may want to be properly Irish about things and use Guinness.
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1kg beef brisket or shin, chopped into
rough 1-2 inch chunks
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
Generous bouquet garni of herbs such as rosemary,
bay, thyme and oregano
1 x 330ml can dark beer (see above)
400ml beef stock
1-2 dozen pottle oysters
400g good puff pastry (Paneton is good)
1 egg, beaten Preheat the oven to 160C.
In a large, lidded casserole over a moderate heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, followed by the garlic and onion. Saute gently for 8-10 minutes until soft and translucent. Dust the beef in the seasoned flour, and fry in batches just to brown the outside. Add to the onion mix with the bouquet garni and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add the beer and stock, bring to a simmer, then put the lid on and pop in the oven to cook slowly for at least two hours, until the beef is meltingly tender.
Remove beef from the oven, remove bouquet garni and stir in the oysters and liquor from the pottle. Taste and season accordingly.
Bring the heat of the oven up to 180C. Transfer the mixture to a shallow pie dish and use the pastry to line the top, then decorate as you see fit. Brush with beaten egg and bake for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is a lovely golden brown.