Hannah of Rise and Shine  was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.
Pie, Pie, Me oh My, I love Pie!
Pie is definitely one of my favourite comfort foods. Pastry just works with anything and everything! It makes a casserole better, a curry better, not to mention custard or lemon curd! But sweet foods were off our list! Never mind, it doesn’t take much convincing for me to make a pie. My only issue was how long it takes to get a truly lovely beef pie.
Many times in the past, I have made recipes using beef that was easy to prepare – not much fat, because I tend to be a little too pedantic when it comes to removing the fat from my meat. Gravy beef often just looks like took much effort, and I go for something like rump. Although it is easier to prepare, it doesn’t have the same flavour, and doesn’t fall apart and stay moist like this gravy beef did.
I had to be disciplined and only remove the major pieces of fat, leaving behind the fat running through the meat, and we were rewarded in the end. The rich gravy with wonderful flavours paired just beautifully with the buttery flaky pastry that was our challenge for this month. The pastry was super easy to make (I used a food processor, not sure if I was supposed to – but it made it that much more easy, and I needed to put my feet up and rest my back after the prep work for the casserole filling).
Thanks to our host, we sure were in the mood for comfort food last night. I had everyone commenting on how lovely the pie was.
Slow-Cooked Beef and Mushroom Casserole
Recipe by Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert
This mix can either be cooked and served with rice, veggie mash or in a pie casing (as is done here).
Serves 8 (fits into one lasagna dish)
Time: 2 hours of cooking, plus ~30min prep (+ 30 minutes, if making into a pie)
1 kg gravy beef, large pieces of sinew discarded, remaining meat cut into chunks 2-3cm diameter)
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoons olive oil (more or less, depending on your pan)
2 onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped or sliced
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 carrots, chopped
400g mushrooms, quartered (or cut into sixths or eighths if mushrooms are large)
1 tablespoon cornflour + 1 tablespoon water – optional, for thickening at the end if required
1 quantity of flaky pastry below – or 2 sheets shortcrust pastry + 2 sheets puff pasty
Combine the plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and oregano. Lightly coat the beef pieces, removing excess flour. Discard remaining flour mix.
Heat a large saucepan over medium/ medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and fry about one third of the beef for a few minutes on each side. Remove, and repeat with remaining batches or meat. (depending on how much the meat sticks, may determine how much oil to add).
Once all the beef is seared and removed from the pan, add a tablespoon of oil and cook the onion, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt together for a few minutes on medium until slightly translucent (it will cook for a long time, so don’t worry too much). Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the wine and allow it to come to the boil. Cook to remove anything stuck to the bottom of the pan, and reduce until there isn’t much liquid left in the saucepan.
Add the beef back into the saucepan along with the beef stock, tomato paste and mixed herbs. Cook on low, with the lid on for 1 1/2 hours (now is the stage to make the pastry if you haven’t already done so, and aren’t using pre-made shortcrust and/or puff pastry). Then add the carrots and mushrooms and cook, without the lid, for a further 30 minutes. (If you plan on serving without cooking in a pie, you may want to add the carrots earlier – maybe 45-60mins before cooking). While this is cooking, you can preheat the oven to 180C, and start to prepare for the pie (if making).
The beef should be falling apart by this stage. This is now ready to serve, or you can thicken the juices if it requires thickening. I removed all my mix, and left only the extra sauce in the saucepan. Combine the cornflour and water and whisk it into the juices, cooking it on medium heat. You may decide to cook for longer or add more cornflour if you like.
Flaky Pie Crust
This recipe was by our host this month, Hannah of Rise and Shine
(These instructions are for a round pie dish, if making a lasagna dish, roll out pastry into rectangles, both before chilling and after) I used a food processor for the whole process
Servings: about 8 (one 9 1/2 inch (24 cm) pie), or one lasagna dish
3 1/2 cups ( 840 ml)(17 ¼ oz)(490 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (13 gm) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons (9 gm) salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) cold shortening (I always use butter flavored), cut into pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) (6 oz) (170 gm) cold unsalted butter (I didn’t use shortening, and used a total or 280 g butter)
1 cup (240 ml) ice water
1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Drop in shortening and quickly grate butter directly into the bowl using a cheese grater.
2. Using your fingers, a fork or a pastry cutter, work butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it’s broken down into course, chunky crumbs. Stop mixing when the largest crumb is about the size of a pea.
3. Using a fork, quickly stir in very cold ice water. Turn the rough dough and crumbs onto a floured surface.
4. Knead just until dough starts to hold together in a rough mass, up to 10 times. Do not over mix! You will be able to see chunks of butter in the dough and this is a good thing.
5. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before use. The dough will keep in the fridge for a full day, or you may freeze the dough for up to 3 months (and bring back to a thawed chill before rolling).
11. Roll out one half of the chilled dough about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick using a floured rolling pin on a well-floured surface. Once your round of dough is about ten inches (25 cm) across, dust the top with flour, pick the round up from the counter and dust under the dough again before rolling out completely to about 15 inches (38 cm) across. Hold your pie plate up to the round of dough to ensure it is large enough to fit your pie plate.
12. To set the dough into your pie plate, fold the round of dough in half, then in half again to create a large triangle of dough. Point the tip of triangle of dough into the center of the pie plate and unfold. Be careful not to stretch the dough while you ensure that you have the dough tucked into all corners.
13. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.
14. Roll out the top crust and cover the filling. Trim excess dough and seal the edge crust by folding the top dough layer under the bottom and pinching the dough together with your fingers or pressing with the tines of a fork.
15. Bake in the lower third of your oven until the pastry is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes (Mine only took 30 minutes, so check after 15 minutes to get an idea). To ensure the bottom is browned, you may choose to prop an electric oven open using the handle of a wooden spoon for the last ten minutes of the baking time. If at any point you fear the top crust is over-browning, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time. Serve immediately while warm.