Friday, 21 February 2014

Meat Pie with O'Brien Farms: a recipe and review


A couple weeks ago, MJ and I found this awesome-looking recipe for beef-mushroom-Guinness pie, and we knew we wanted to make it...and then eat it. All of it. But I'm new to cooking meat, and really new to cooking beef, so we knew we needed some really good cow to be increase the chances that I'd get this right. (It also helps when your best friend is a veteran Executive Chef. I'll admit that right now.)

O'Brien Farms shared some of their stewing beef (also called 'chuck') for this recipe. We'd never tried O'Brien beef before, despite being familiar with the name; O'Brien is a favourite around the Ottawa Valley. The owner, Dan, is a fourth generation beef producer, and a lovely man with a big smile. His cows are all born and raised in the Ottawa area, and are antibiotic- and growth stimulant-free. 

O'Brien offers a refrigerated delivery service that can come to your home, or to your business. When I met up with Dan to grab my beef, he was running a delivery to Churchill's in Westboro (so maybe head down there if you want to try their beef without having to cook it yourself.) They're also available at a wide variety of Ottawa stores, and will be at the Ottawa Farmer's Market at Brewer Park this season.

I'm no master chef, but I know what I like--when I put it in my mouth. MJ, on the other hand, pulled the fresh chuck out of the fridge and started oohing and ahhing immediately. The plump, beautiful meat wowed her completely, and she reminded me that there's a special pleasure in cooking when you're using really lovely ingredients. 

The beef was a pleasure to work with. As we walked through the steps of the recipe, the beef cooked up beautifully and the scent filled the entire house, bringing curious noses to spy on what we were doing. It was super juicy, tender, and the flavour was out of this world. If you're not prepared to have factory beef ruined for you, don't try this beef. If you're ready to have beef taken to a whole new level, try this beef. Chuck isn't a very expensive or special cut, so that helps you to understand just how fantastic this locally-raised meat truly is.


The recipe, found on (and also copied below), was a pretty easy one to follow, without a lot of complex ingredients or techniques. What you must remember, though, is that is will take time. The longer you simmer the beef in the beer and broth, the happier you're going to be when you eat it. Do NOT reduce the simmering time.

The deep, rich flavour of the Guinness stout really played nicely with the natural delicious flavours of the beef. Mushrooms, of course, always go great with beef flavours, but they definitely were second fiddle in this recipe, with the meat taking centre stage. We went with a pre-made crust this time, to reduce prep time and because I'm a dairy-free gal (so sometimes a dairy-free pie crust from scratch can be a bit tricky). It didn't really matter what crust we used, though: what everyone fought over was the filling.

I think we would double the filling amount next time. There just didn't seem to be enough of that Guinness, mushroom, and O'Brien beef filling to go around. 

It didn't look pretty on the plate, I'll admit, but the deliciousness of a meat pie is usually inversely proportionate to how pretty it looks. (If a pie holds together perfectly, there's a good chance it's dry or the gravy's gone thick.) This pie was so good, I had family requests for more of it the very next day. If you're going to pig out on some fine red meat, O'Briens is the way to go...and this meat pie recipe is a great way to show it off.

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound cubed beef stew meat
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1/3 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Irish stout beer (such as Guinness
1 1/4 cups beef stock
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, or as needed
1 teaspoon water
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1.Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and brown the beef stew meat on all sides, about 10 minutes; set aside. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and cook the bacon just until it begins to brown; stir in the onion, carrot, mushrooms, garlic, and sugar. Cook the vegetables until soft and browned, 10 to 15 more minutes.
2.Stir in the flour until smoothly incorporated, and gradually mix in the Irish stout beer and beef stock. Mix in the thyme, bay leaves, and the reserved cooked beef. Cover, and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes; stir occasionally. Remove the cover, turn the heat up to medium, and let the stew boil until slightly thickened, about 15 more minutes. Mix cornstarch with water, and stir into the stew; let simmer for 30 more minutes to blend flavors. Remove from heat; discard bay leaves.
3.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
4.Spread the filling into a 9-inch pie dish; trim the puff pastry into a 10-inch circle, and place on top of the filling. Pinch and crimp the edges of the pastry with a fork, sealing it to the dish; cut 2 steam vents into the pastry with a sharp knife. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg.
5.Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is browned, 30 to 40 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE steak and Guiness pie (though I can't eat the "pie" business being gluten sensitive). Jamie Oliver has a spectacular recipe too.


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