When most people are down to their last $20, there are a few things they might consider doing. Some might build a fortress and barricade themselves in a corner until the next payday. Financially savvy people would probably find a way to invest that $20 and double it by the end of the week. Unsurprisingly, my husband Scruff did neither of those things. Instead, I married a man who once spent our last $20 on…. ramekins! Yes… RAMEKINS!!! Despite already having a set at home, he claims he was powerless against the well-placed big colourful sale signs and eye-catching flashing lights. That week, we had to dig into our savings just to get on the bus. Thanks to Scruff, we now had a new low point in our financial history.
Luckily every cloud has a silver lining, and when you own a lot of ramekins you have an excellent excuse for making pot pies. There are a few different pies we make at home, but for our blog I thought I would start with a steak and Guinness pie for St. Patrick’s Day which in my defence was only last week. This pie has big chunks of meat seared in a hot pan before being cooked in a pressure cooker with Guinness, mushrooms, rosemary, sage and nutmeg. The Guinness turns into a delicious gravy, and the meat becomes tender. After being divided into four of our many ramekins they are topped with pastry that is then cooked in the oven until puffy and golden.
My tips for making a good pot pie:
- Cut largeish pieces of meat. I found 2cm x 2cm pieces to be about the right size.
- Remove as much fat as possible from the meat. I’m normally very pro-fat when it comes to cooking, but the issue is that as the pie cools the fat will very quickly separate. Trust me, it is not at all appetising. So buy the leanest piece you can find, trim the fat, and use a non-stick frying pan so you don’t need to use as much oil for frying. I promise there will still be enough flavour.
- Brown the meat properly. Have the heat up high in a non-stick frying pan. Place the pieces of the meat in the pan, being careful not to overcrowd (you will probably need to fry in batches). Wait until one side is cooked before flipping, and fry until dark brown bits start to appear on the meat. It’s not enough for it to just change from looking raw to cooked, for it to be “browned” it needs to go that extra step further. Don’t keep moving and flipping the meat constantly as you won’t get the same effect, and don’t stress about bits of meat getting stuck to the pan as this will all come off when you deglaze.
- Be generous with the herbs and seasonings. This dish only has a few key ingredients, so the herbs and seasonings play a big role in adding flavour.
- Cooking time matters. I’ve specified 25 minutes exactly in the pressure cooker because 5 minutes more or less will mean either meat that’s lost its texture or meat that’s too chewy. Of course every pressure cooker is different, so if you don’t get the right result the first time round just adjust. The main thing is to aim for meat with bite that’s still chewable.
- Keep an eye on the pastry as it cooks, especially in the last five minutes to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- These pies are absolutely magical served with Colcannon. I just followed the recipe on Taste.com, but there are lots of recipes out there and it’s basically just cabbage mixed with mashed potato made up with lots of cream and butter (I told you I am pro-fat).
One of the best things about this recipe is the leftover pastry. I slather the pieces with Nutella or strawberry jam and pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Once cooled I dust them with icing sugar and dessert is sorted. I’m no saint when it comes to food waste, but I do get a really good feeling when I manage to create something from leftovers.
Finally, this is a pressure cooker recipe just because we’re a bit obsessed at the moment, but you can also make this on the stove top. Cook the meat for about 1.5 hours, adding the mushrooms in the last 20 minutes.
So, if you also have ramekins at home you need to use and don’t mind that St. Patrick’s Day is only 360 days away, then please give this recipe a go.
Pressure Cooker Steak and Guinness Pot Pies
Chunks of steak cooked with Guinness, rosemary, sage and nutmeg, then topped with golden puff pastry.
- 2 red onions peeled, cut in half and finely sliced
- Oil for frying
- 1 kg beef chuck steak cut into 2cm x 2cm pieces (Note 1)
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 250 ml Guinness
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml tomato paste (equivalent to 1 sachet/50 gm
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 sprigs rosemary leaves
- 4 sage leaves, whole and bruised
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 decent grating of nutmeg
- 200 gm mushrooms thickly sliced
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml cornstarch
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan at medium high or in your pressure cooker on saute function and cook the onions until soft. Place the onions in the pressure cooker if using a fry pan or in a bowl if using the saute function on your pressure cooker.
Season the beef chunks with 1 tsp of salt and freshly cracked pepper. Add roughly 1 tbsp oil to the fry pan / pressure cooker and sear the beef chunks in batches. Once all the meat is seared, place into the pressure cooker (if using a pan). (Note 2)
While the frying pan / pressure cooker is still hot, pour in the Guinness. As it comes to the boil scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Pour the juices into the pressure pot (if using a pan).
Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, herbs and nutmeg to the pressure pot. Combine well and cook on high pressure / stew setting for 25 mins.
Carefully release the valve and depressurise as instructed in your user manual. Remove the lid and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 5 mins on saute setting.
While the mushrooms are cooking, preheat the oven to 180 C / 356 F and start to defrost one sheet of frozen puff pastry.
When the mushrooms are done, add 2 tbsp of cornstarch and 3 tbsp of cold water to a small bowl and combine well. Add it to the pot and stir until the gravy is nice and thick.
Check the seasoning of your pie filling and adjust it to your taste. Then turn your pressure cooker off.
Divide the pie filling between four large ramekins. Wet the rim of each ramekin, then cut 1cm wide pieces of puff pastry and press down over the rim (see picture for example).
Take the second sheet of frozen puff pastry so it can start to defrost.
Going back to the first sheet, cut out circles just slightly larger then your ramekins. Lay on top of each ramekin and use a fork to press down onto the pastry-lined rims. (Note 3)
Create an air vent by either cutting a cross in the middle, piercing the pastry a few times with a fork, or using a shape cutter to remove a portion of the pastry. Repeat with the remaining ramekins and second sheet of puff pastry. (Note 4)
Brush the pot pies with the beaten egg and then cook in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 C / 356 F fan forced. (Note 5)
- Use the leanest piece of meat you can find, and trim any excess fat.
- To sear the meat, make sure it cooks long enough on the one side to form dark brown patches. Be careful not to steam your beef by overcrowding the pan. I recommend frying in batches and using your fry pan over the pressure cooker for this step.
- Press down quite hard with the fork. You want the pastry to really stick together to form a seal.
- Make dessert out of the pastry scraps. Spread with jam, Nutella or any other spread, then put in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until pastry is puffy and golden. Once cooled dust with icing sugar.
- Keep a close eye on the pastry to make sure it doesn't burn.