I am making slow cooker beef and mushroom pies for my husband, because he can’t find good ones at a decent price in the supermarket.
Note that this is a long, labour-intensive process, and involves me chopping / sauteeing / preparing all sorts of delicious, delicious things that I love and can no longer eat. I’ve finished prepping the filling, it’s in the slow cooker now, and I’m taking a break while the dishwasher cleans up for me before heading back into the kitchen and starting dinner (which is going to be five-spice duck again because I am determined to enjoy the last couple of days before I am doomed to the Diet Of Incredible Boringness). And after we have dinner I’m gonna have to head back in there to set up the pastry and bake all the tasty, tasty pies that I cannot enjoy myself, so that my husband can have them for lunch and make all his co-workers jealous. (Seriously, he has admitted that the reaction he got when he took one of my homemade beef-and-Guinness pies in to work is a large part of the reason why he wants these! XD)
…Yeah, I love him all right. XD
– currently taking a break after dinner while the puff pastry for Da Hubby’s pies thaws
– dear gods the Chinese five-spice duck is still delicious
– serving it on a bed of steamed bok choy was a wonderful idea, A+ meal design me, would nosh again
– the filling for the pies smells AWESOME. Like, ‘surely one little taste would not make me suffer…?’ awesome. Sadly for my tastebuds I remember all the times when ‘just one taste’ of something I shouldn’t eat either did make me suffer, or tempted me into eating way more than ‘just one taste’ and then there was the suffering anyway, so nope. Nuh-uh. Not gonna do it. XD
The two on the left were deliberately made ‘lower’ in their ramekins so that I could put lids on them – easier to keep them safe on the way to work! And yes, I was very restrained and didn’t eat any of the filling. XD
Recipe for DELICIOUS STEAK AND MUSHROOM PIES THAT MEL CAN’T EAT:
Ingredients: 1kg gravy beef 750g onions 400g mushrooms (get fairly developed ones, the flavour is stronger) 250g bacon garlic (as much as you like, hehhehheh) about 40g butter 40g plain flour 2 cups dry white wine 2 cups beef stock rosemary thyme any other herbs you feel like flinging in (make a bouquet garni out of your herbs if you can, it’s easier than fishing stems out and missing one) pepper/salt to taste olive oil frozen puff pastry (you will need at least six sheets, eight if your ramekins are smaller than the ones I was using, even more if you’re making little pies) an egg
Equipment you will need: A largeish slow cooker (or a rice cooker with a slow cooker setting) A frypan A smallish whisk Ramekins or pie plates to bake your pies in (you can make awesome little pies with a large muffin tray!) A pastry brush Assorted knives, at least one good spatula, plus various bowls and measuring cups to hold All The Stuff conveniently while you’re getting things ready (the saute-ing stage is much easier if everything is in separate bowls ready to be dumped into the pan as you need it) A cookie sheet or grill tray to put all your pies on Baking paper (best) or tinfoil (does OK) to keep the inevitable gravy overflow off the tray and make cleanup WAY easier.
Dice the beef into smallish cubes, chop the onions, take the rind off the bacon and slice it into little bits (leave the fat on), clean and slice the mushrooms. If you’re using whole garlic cloves, slice them fairly thinly and dump them in with the onions.
Heat oil in a frying pan; brown the beef in small batches and put it in your slow cooker. Saute the onions and garlic together until they’re going translucent and smell delicious (*sob*), transfer to slow cooker. Fry the bacon until it’s browned and the fat is coming out nicely, transfer it to the slow cooker as well but leave as much of the fat as possible in the pan. Fry the mushrooms in the bacon fat and leftover oil until they’re tender, transfer them while leaving as much of the juice etc as possible behind.
Melt your chunk of butter in the pan and mix it up with all the leftover tasty juice; get your whisk and gradually add the flour, whisking it into the butter etc. Cook the mixture, whisking continually to prevent it burning, until it starts going browner (this takes a few minutes). Then add the stock a little at a time, WHISKING LIKE YOUR ARM IS GOING TO FALL OFF. (This is important. You can whisk fairly gently while you’re cooking the flour and butter mixture, but once you start adding the stock you need to whisk it in quickly and completely before you add more, or it will go all lumpy and ick. Expect your arm to get tired. 😛 It works beautifully, though, and this is what deglazes all the tasty residue off the pan and makes your eventual pie gravy REALLY GOOD.) Pour the thickened stock mixture into the slow cooker, add the red wine – don’t put in the full two cups if it looks like you have plenty of liquid – grind in pepper and salt, stir everything together, poke your herb bouquet into the middle of it all, and set the cooker for six hours on low.
Wander off and get your duck ready for dinnerplay World of Warcraft do something else for five hours or so, then get the puff pastry out to thaw. (Too soon and it goes all squishy and hard to work; too late and it’s still solid.) Buzz off and eat the duckdo a few more quests until the timer is about to go off; turn on the oven and preheat it to 200 C.
Fish out the bouquet garni and throw it away, stir up your DELICIOUS TASTY PIE FILLING and smell how awesome it is. Set up your ramekins / pie plates / muffin tray with pastry linings, spoon in the filling (carefully – you will probably have more gravy than you really need, don’t overfill things), top with more pastry. Seal the edges by pressing them together with the tines of a fork, trim extra bits off, and stab the top a couple of times to let steam etc escape. Beat the egg with a fork and brush it over the tops of the pies (or use milk, either works fine).
Line your cookie sheet or grill tray with baking paper (or tinfoil, or resign yourself to scrubbing it), arrange your pies, and bake them for 25 minutes. (Note: some people prefer to make the filling one day, cool it in the fridge overnight, and bake the pies the next day. I tend to want it over with in one go, but separating the work that way is… probably smart… and if you’re eating the pies right after baking them the flavour will have had time to develop. If you’re baking them to freeze and eat later, it doesn’t make much difference.)
NOW YOU HAVE PIES. You can either:
– eat them right now
– keep them in the fridge for a couple of days (wrap them in cling wrap or the pastry tops will get rubbery), or
– wrap them in cling wrap / put them in ziplock bags and freeze them, in which case you can reheat them in a microwave any time you want. Possibly at work, taunting your co-workers. XD