The Irish have their own version of National Braai Day, called St Patrick’s Day – the day their country comes to a standstill and has one big party. I’ve been to some St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin as part of my ongoing research and development of National Braai Day. Every single pub in Ireland serves a fantastic pie made with steak and stout. I’ve adapted their recipe to suit our local braai conditions. You make the pie filling in a potjie and you braai the pastry on a grid over the coals. Alternatively, just serve the awesome contents of your potjie on a bed of mash or with a piece of baguette bread!
- 2 tots olive oil
- 1 kg steak (chuck is best, other- wise rump; cut into blocks of 2 cm × 2 cm)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tot cake flour
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 carrot (peeled and finely chopped)
- 2 sticks celery (finely chopped)
- 1 tot chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley; or use 1?2 tot dried mixed herbs)
- 1 can or bottle stout (about 400 ml)
- 250 g button mushrooms (halved)
- 1 packet puff pastry (400 g, completely thawed)
- Heat the olive oil in a large flat-bottomed potjie over a hot fire. Add the steak cubes, salt and pepper and stir. Shake in the flour, and then stir well to distribute the flour evenly over everything. The bottom of the pot will seem a bit dry, but don’t worry too much about it. Fry for about 5 minutes until the pieces of flour-coated meat turn golden brown.
- Add the onion, carrot, celery and herbs, then fry for another 5 minutes.
- Now pour in the stout. Stir to loosen any sticky bits on the bottom of the pot, and then bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, cover the pot, and then simmer over low heat for 1 hour. It is very important to keep the heat low. ‘Low heat’ means a few coals, and no flames of any significance under the pot.
- When the pie filling in the potjie is nearly ready (after about 1 hour of total cooking time), unroll the puff pastry from the packet. Now you have two options: either cut the pastry into the shape of the bowls you’re going to serve the pies in, or cut it into squares that you will put on top of the filling on plates or in bowls. Braai the pastry shapes in an oiled, closed hinged grid for about 20 minutes over very mild coals. Turn the grid often until the pastry is golden brown and crispy. Don’t braai them too fast, as there is a good chance they will burn if you do. The pastry will look like it is starting to ‘melt’ at first; don’t worry, it will soon firm up and become easier to handle if you just carefully turn it quite often. This part is optional, you can also just serve the filling on a bed of mash potatoes or with pieces of baguette bread.
- When the filling is ready, take the potjie off the fire and stir well. The liquid should be thick and glossy. If not, cook uncovered for a few minutes to let it reduce and thicken. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve by dishing up the filling into bowls or onto plates and then put the braaied pieces of pastry on top of each of them. You could also serve the pies with mashed potatoes if you like.
Although Guinness is the internationally famous example of stout, it’s by no means the only one. You can make this recipe just as effectively with a local favourite like Castle Milk Stout.
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