Happy 2016, everyone! I know my new year sentiments are a bit late, but I was in Costa Rica this past week (more on that soon!) and only now do I have the chance to wish everyone an amazing, successful new year. Bring it 2016! Let’s do this!
I think January is the sort of month that demands comfort food, don’t you? Although we had a pretty mild December here in New York, January came in full swing and reminded us that it is, in fact, still winter, and that we’d best treat it as such. Temperatures plummeted and consequently, the need for warm, cozy eats skyrocketed. Here to save the day? This pot pie, which is pretty much as comforting as comfort food gets. It’s a mashup between beef bourguignon and chicken pot pie, and combines the best elements of the two into one sumptuous dish. Here, the cognac, thyme, beef and red wine of beef bourguignon meet the crackly pastry, tiny peas, leeks, carrots and potatoes of chicken pot pie, and yield a meal that’s warm, rich and deeply flavored.
It’s also a meal that demands a bit more involvement than the average- vegetables must be cut and ready before beginning, and there’s frying, sauteing, baking, and baking again. But it’s truly worth it, and as a piece of this savory pie will demonstrate, nothing beats comfort food. Especially comfort food that’s as delicious, hearty, and luxurious as this.
Yields: one 10″ pie, serving approx. 8 people
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Why I love this recipe: this is the ultimate cold weather comfort food, a mashup of classic beef bourguignon and cozy pot pie. Beef chunks are coated in flour, which helps with browning, and then sauteed with leeks, carrots, peas, potatoes and beef bacon in beef stock and wine. The whole mixture is then baked until soft and velvety and finally, it’s enveloped by a crackly, flaky puff pastry cover, yielding a hearty, beefy dish.
Notes: in a dish like this, where so many ingredients are called for, it’s easiest and neatest to begin with vegetables that are already cut and peeled as needed (as written in the recipe below), and only then beginning with the recipe. And have everything nicely arranged- mise en place!
For the pot pie:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1″ pieces
- 3 slices beef bacon (I like Jack’s brand)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 small potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons cognac or whiskey
- 4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups beef stock or broth
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 large egg, beaten to blend
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°.
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Season ½ cup flour with salt and pepper. Add beef and toss to coat; shake off excess.
Working in batches as needed (to avoid steaming meat), cook beef, turning often, until browned all over, 8–10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
Fry the beef bacon in same pot, flipping once or twice, until brown and crisp. Remove from pot, let cool and crumble into bits.
Add back to pot, along with ¼ cup water and cook, scraping up browned bits, then add onion, leek, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and parsley and return beef to pot. Add cognac or whiskey and simmer until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add thyme leaves, bay leaf, stock, and wine and season with salt and pepper; bring to a simmer.
Add the potatoes and peas to the pot. Cover pot and braise in oven until beef is very tender, 1–1½ hours.
Meanwhile, working with one at a time, roll out pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface until about 4” larger than baking dish (a 10″ pie pan). Place 1 sheet on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill. Transfer remaining sheet to baking dish. Lift up edge and let dough slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1” overhang. Transfer stew to baking dish. Brush edge of pastry with egg.
Using a cutter, punch out a circle in the center of chilled pastry. Drape pastry over filling and trim to a 1” overhang. Press edges of dough together to seal and fold overhang under. Crimp edge, then brush top of pastry with egg.
Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 30–35 minutes. Let pot pie cool slightly before serving.