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Computer Crashes, Techy Mr. Hubby | Steak & Ale Pie

I am one of these people who attracts computer crashes like a honey attracts bees.

And there is nothing more irritating to a grown woman such as myself than when the computer decides to collapse on me like a souffle and all I can do is stare at the bright blue screen talking rude gibberish in a vocabulary meant clearly for drones and not for humans.

That and the fact that I am further paralyzed from touching something lest I ruin the situation further and so I must wait for techy persons such as Mr. Hubby to come to my rescue. For some unfathomable reason Mr. Hubby like a breed of other techies seem to have this overwhelming urge to explain all that they're doing to fix the darn thing while they're doing the fixing!

I don't mean to be ungrateful but I, for one, couldn't care less because all I want is this doggone thing fixed so I can get on with it! And the more Mr. Hubby engages in techy drone talk with me the more my brain feels like its being stuffed with cotton wool.

And when I bring this fact kindly to Mr. Hubby's attention he has this to say -"Behind every successful woman is a man...providing tech support!"

So there you have it - it is under such excruciating circumstances that I have come to the realization that I now have a mere hours before I must cart a large potluck sized steak and ale pie for our community gathering.

Now for most women, this wouldn't be a problem because I suspect most women have their recipes nicely categorized in folders and such. Mine are all crammed into the computer - a computer that has only just, after extensive CPR, blinked back to life and in the interim valuable time has been lost.

Besides having to compile a grocery list, do the shopping and cooking at neck breaking speed, I have yet another challenge on my hands -

What's the challenge you ask?

Well, traditional steak and ale pie has a lovely puff pastry top that covers the whole thing but since we're going to be so many for us at the gathering I shudder to think what the state of the puff pastry will be after all the shoveling. 

The question is, how to prevent the puff pastry from crumbing into smithereens and withstand the digging and prodding?

After a restless night, I had a moment of clarity!

I am channeling the concept behind chicken and dumplings and intend to do the puff pastry topping not an one humongous sheet but rather 2" circles thus making shoveling  (around the pastry) all the more easier and so very potluck friendly! See for yourself!

There you have it and it worked like a charm!

Everyone could help themselves to the little puffy heaven without having a detritus of crumby pastry to deal with at the end.

By no means is this a traditional recipe. Traditional recipes do not use celery and frown at the use of mushrooms or rosemary.

I have used my artistic license freely  and used  this as an excuse to  incorporate extra bits of celery, herbs and half used onions that were pleading to be used up. Various and countless sources of inspiration have all together in the creation of this dish. 

This is definitely a rich and wholesome pie. It's amazing to taste the beer flavors in the stew mature turning from bitter to a rich and deep flavor. I hope you'll give this a try and guzzle down cold pints of Guinness with it!



Recipe for

Computer Crashes, Techy Mr. Hubby & Potluck Steak & Ale Pie Serves 4-6

Shopping list:

1 packet Puff pastry, 2 sheets (Pepperidge Farm) or from your favorite bakery

3-1/2 lbs. Beef chuck 1-3/4 tsp salt 2 tsp ground black pepper

3 stalks celery (to yield 1-1/4 cup sliced) yellow onion, to yield 2 cups chopped

1 lb. potatoes

1 large carrot 1 turnip (optional - not everyone loves the pungent flavor) 8 oz. button mushrooms 1-1/2 cups beef stock 1-1/2 cups stout or pale ale (for lighter flavor)

1 egg for egg wash


Onions - Peel, discard the skin & tops and dice into 1/2" chunks. 

Celery - Discard root and leaves. Cut into 1/4" thick slices. Garlic cloves - Peel, crush and roughly chop

Mushrooms - Cut off the stems and discard. Wipe with a damp cloth and halve.

Potatoes - Peel and cut into 1" chunks.

Carrot - Peel, discard tips and cut into 1" chunks (same for turnip if using) Thyme - Leave on stems.

Rosemary - Strip the leaves from the stalk and roughly chop

Beef - Cut away the skin and fatty portions. Cut the meat into 1" chunks. Dry between kitchen paper towels. Add 1/4 cup all purpose flour and mix using clean hands. Puff pastry - Remove from freezer and refrigerate to defrost.

Method: Use a very large pot or ideally a Dutch oven.

Heat the olive oil & add the butter and melt on medium heat. Add the meat  in batches and on medium- high heat, brown the meat on all sides - about 3-4 minutes per batch. 

Return all the meat to the pan and add the garlic, onions and celery. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes until the onions shows softening. Add remaining flour and stir till combined.

Add the potatoes, mushrooms, carrot, turnip if using, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, beer, herbs, tomato paste, salt, black pepper and sugar. Bring to boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook on low heat for approx. 45 mins to 1 hour.

Crack the lid about an inch to allow some of the excess water to evaporate and cook the stew for another 30 minutes on medium heat.

Cook's Note: If after this time there is still plenty of water (you want to have the stew thick enough to spoon - unlike a soup) then take the lid off and evaporate excess water.

Once the stew is quite thick but still has a gravy to it, mix 1 tbsp. cornstarch to 2 tbsp. water. Stir till dissolved and add to the stew. Stir and simmer the stew on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

About 45 minutes before serving, spoon the now thick stew into pie dishes. Also remove one of the pastry sheets and unroll onto a clean working surface. Return the other pastry sheet to the refrigerator to keep cool.

Cook's Note: This is important or the pastry will not puff up properly.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F.

Using a small glass or a 2" cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, press the rim into the pastry sheet making 2" circles as close as possible and as many as you can manage.

If you are assembling the 2nd pie as well then proceed with the process till both pie's are assembled.

Beat an egg with 1 tbsp. water and using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash on the top of the pastry circles and not on the sides on the pastry or they won't puff up.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 - 40 minutes. Check in 30 minutes to see if the pastry has puffed up and is a nice golden brown. If not give it another 5-10 minutes.

Cook's Note: Do not go by the baking times on the pastry box! I almost had a heart attack when the pastry did not puff up in 15 minutes but that only refers to pastry baking on trays and not on pies.




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