I was going so well for a moment there, wasn’t I? Bright and happy. Perky, even.
And then, with no explanation at all, I crashed. Spent three days incapacitated. In bed and facing a wall of exhaustion and anxiety coupled with a rather perplexing case of being totally unable to stand upright for more than a couple of minutes without falling over.
It was bizarre I tell you. More so because, after doing as many tests as a lab rodent, nothing was wrong with me.
Well, except for those cuh-razy symptoms.
So I treated myself the only way I knew how. And that way involved sleep, sun and a sneaky drink or two.
(The last one doesn’t usually come recommended by medical professionals, but I’m no doctor and I was sick of being involuntarily incapacitated. Voluntary semi-incapacitation seemed a far better option).
So sneaky, in fact, that this pie I baked in the course of my recovery got a little look in too.
Let me tell you something about pies and I. We’re tight. Not super tight, but close enough.
Let’s just say if pie was a person, it’d be sitting just outside my inner circle of friends. You know who I’m talking about. The type that would be on your (metaphorical) wedding guest list without a word being said, but not necessarily the type you’d go on a three week overseas holiday with. Because (stick with me here) even though you lovelovelove its company and that wonderful warm fuzzy feeling it gives you when its around, it has the propensity to turn into a time eating, inconsiderate, chronic over-stayer if left to its own devices.
The kind that will unconsciously eat your afternoon alive with promises of “Oh no! I won’t be any trouble. You seriously don’t need to entertain me – just go and do your thing and I’ll be here when you’re back”.
Or with a sly “Look, you don’t really have to make my crust from scratch. Just stick with some prepackaged stuff. I won’t look down on you for it. I mean, it’d taste better, but it’s really your choice.”
And then, just when you’re ready to un-friend that good-for-nothing menace on facebook and ignore its twitter feeds, it’s out of the oven and smelling and tasting wonderful. It’s gushed over by your family and friends. It freezes beautifully and reheats as if it had just come out of the oven.
So all is forgiven and dreams of re-igniting the pie-from-scratch flame start to invade your thoughts.
Well, maybe just mine.
beef, mushroom & red wine pie
you will need:
1kg chuck steak
4tbsp plain flour
2tsp smoky paprika
1tbsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 tin chopped tomatoes (410g tin)
375ml red wine
250ml beef stock
5 sprigs thyme
400g chopped mushrooms
shortcrust pastry for the base & puff pastry for the top (store bought is ok)
how to do it:
1. Cube the chuck steak so that you have pieces no bigger than the size of your nose. I’m talking adult noses here, not childrens’. About 2cm cubed max. If you have a large nose. Toss the beef in the plain flour, paprika, black pepper and salt mix. Yes that’s a lot of black pepper. I like pepper. You can dial it down if you like.
2. Brown the beef in an oven proof dish in two batches (or more depending on the size of your pot). I’ve used a tablespoon of oil for each batch I browned. Remove the beef from the pot and set it aside.
3. Dice the onion and garlic. Toss it in the ovenproof dish and cook until it starts to go translucent. You don’t want it to brown or burn just yet.
4. Add the tinned tomatoes, wine and beef stock. Cook it down until 1/3 has evaporated then toss the beef, thyme and mushrooms in. Pop a lid on the top and bake in a 180C for at least 2 hours. Three would be better.
5. Remove the dish from the oven.
6. Blind bake a short crust pastry shell (I used a galette pastry base because I’m crazy, but it tasted awesome) fill with beef stew and top with a puff pastry lid. Consume.