Thursday, May 8, 2014

Recipe: Beef and Bacon Pie

A slightly different version of this recipe originally appeared on my old blog, Stella Matutina.

a slice of beef and bacon pie on a blue-grey plate

A week or so ago, my grandmother issued one of those vague, sometime-in-the-near-future-maybe-possibly dinner invitations.

To give you some context, my grandmother is a disabled eighty-eight-year-old who can no longer cook. So while this was a nice gesture, I figured it maybe wasn't the best thing for her.

"Why don't I bring you Mother's Day supper instead?" I asked.

"That would be fine," she said, quick as you please.

My grandparents are both ever so fond of beef and bacon pie, my favourite recipe from A FEAST OF ICE AND FIRE by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer. They love the sweetness the fruit imparts, and we all agree the splash of vinegar adds just the right level of acidity to the gravy. Since it's our favouritest pie in all the land, I knew it was the perfect choice for Sunday supper and a good one to share with y'all to boot.

Alas, I'm afraid there's no way to make it suitable for vegetarians. It's meat or nothin' here.

a beef and bacon pie, fresh from the oven and nicely golden on top

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup very cold butter
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of saffron (optional)

Or you can buy a readymade double crust pie shell.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup diced bacon
  • 500-700g (1lb-1.5lbs) ground beef (if your grocery store yields a larger packet, you'll probably have some leftover filling)
  • 1/3 cup chopped prunes
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • several grinds of fresh black pepper

Pasty Directions:

For the best results, make sure you chill everything in the fridge for an hour or two before you begin.

If you're using saffron, dissolve it in the water.

Roughly chop or grate the frozen butter into the flour, then work it through with a pastry cutter until it's crumb-sized.

Add the yolks and the water, then toss everything with a fork to combine. If the mixture is disinclined to come together, you can add up to 1/3 of a cup more water.

Once the dough just sticks together, divide it into two flat discs and chill it in the fridge while you get on with the rest of it.

Filling and Assembly Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Cook the bacon in a large, high-sided pan over medium heat until it's nice and crispy. If it yields a lot of fan, drain most of that off; if not, leave it in the pan to add some extra flavour to the pie.

Add the beef and cook until it's no longer pink, then add the prunes, dates, raisins, vinegar, and spices. Give everything a good stir.

Add the beef broth, then sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir well to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low and let everything cook until a nice, saucy gravy forms.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the filling cool slightly.

beef and bacon pie filling, fully prepared and ready to deploy

Roll one pastry disc out until it's the right size to fit in the bottom of a 9" pie pan. Place it in there according to your preferred method (I fold it in half, then in half again before I lift it into the pie plate and unfold it) and trim the edges so they're even with the inside of the pan.

Add as much of the meat mixture as you possibly can. If there's extra, your small, hungry dog will appreciate a little of it on his food, while you may wish the scarf down the rest as you wait for your pie to cook.

Roll out the remaining pastry and lay it atop the filled pie. Trim it so it falls about half an inch to an inch beyond the edge of the pan, then fold the edges under and give 'em a bit of a crinkle so they look all pretty.

Brush the top of the pie with a little beaten egg and cut a few vents in it. I usually go with an X in the middle, followed by four to six holes evenly spaced around the outside.

Place the fully assembled pie on a cookie sheet and bake it for about forty minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling bubbles. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for at least twenty minutes before you cut into it, lest the hot filling run everywhere.

The pie is great for any meal of the day and can also be eaten with a slice of bleu cheese tucked under the crust for additional zip. Leftovers reheat nicely at 350°F/175°C for about twenty minutes. You can use the microwave if you're in a hurry, but the resulting pie will be a little soggy.

the very edge of a pie crust, nicely indented

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